What does fantasy literature offer young readers that resonates with them?
Fantasy literature offers young readers both escapism and a chance to see the struggles of the real world reflected in a different manner than contemporary or realistic literature.
Fantasy literature can offer young readers a great deal. First and most obviously, fantasy literature offers escapism. Many read fantasy series such as Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and The Chronicles of Narnia because they want to experience a setting where the magical and the unusual reign supreme. Young readers can also project themselves onto the heroic characters, who are normally children much like themselves thrust into adventurous circumstances.
Fantasy can also help young readers deal with certain real-world issues, much like other genres can. For example, prejudice is a major theme in the Harry Potter books, a reflection of the many kinds of intolerance against certain groups that exist in the real world. The His Dark Materials books deal with the importance of knowledge over the ignorance imposed by social/religious structures. The The Beast Player books feature political corruption and social unrest.
Fantasy novels for children and teens also tend to have a coming-of-age element, particularly books which are part of a long-running series. The protagonist usually begins the story as an innocent child who encounters a fantastical, baffling, and even dangerous world, then grows up in that setting, gaining new abilities and becoming more mature. So not only are young readers escaping into an exciting magical world through fantasy stories, but they are also seeing their own experiences as young people facing the world for the first time in their favorite fantasy heroes.
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