I received this letter this morning from a pastor:

I suspect you are far too busy to mess with this, but I am a pastor and a family has asked a very intriguing question which I’m not capable of answering. I posted it on my blog, but my readership is small. Then it dawned on me that you, a Christian author of fantasy, would be in the best place to offer some suggestions. So, if you have opportunity, it would bless this family if you could help them out. Here is the post that will explain the situation. In essence, what can a dad read his 9 and 6 year old after have finished Narnia?’

Interesting timing. Just yesterday, I received this:

Love your website and loved your book, Through the Screen Darkly. I was wondering if you could recommend any books for me to read aloud to my four, soon to be five, year old son. We are almost through with The Tale of Despereaux, and I was looking for something else that he might enjoy.

I have already responded to that letter with a few suggestions. Five and six-year-olds need different kinds of stories than nine-year-olds, so here was my response to him.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a beautiful children’s story by the same author, DiCamillo. But it has some heavy, sad chapters, so use your best judgment. Maybe read it yourself first… I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

When he’s a little older, maybe seven or eight, I’d recommend DiCamillo’s The Tiger Rising.

Can you tell I’m a DiCamillo fan?

Also: Michael Ende’s Momo is hard to find, but worth it. Probably for seven or eight year-olds.

Have you read Peter Pan with your son? The original? It’s marvelous. I recently rediscovered it.

Since then, I’ve thought of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, which would probably serve ages 7-9 better. Or the fairy tales of George Macdonald: The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and the Curdie, The Golden Key. Why not Roald Dahl, with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach?

I would also very highly recommend Mark Helprin’s A City in Winter and The Veil of Snows for 9-year-olds. All of these are great read-aloud books for families too. My wife Anne recommends The Door in the Hedge, by Robin McKinley.

What fantasy would you recommend for 5-6 year-olds? 7-9 year-olds?

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