20 Books Like ‘Harry Potter’ To Read Instead of Supporting J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has alienated a huge portion of her fanbase recently as she continues to double down on her transphobia.
Unfortunately, the books themselves are also deeply problematic: anti-Semitism, fatphobia, racism, and cultural insensitivity are just a few of the issues baked into the once-beloved fantasy series. Long story short, there are better, more inclusive, less hateful books out there, and their authors are worth supporting.
If you want to stop supporting J.K. Rowling and find alternatives for Harry Potter in your life or gift someone else a better book, you might want to start with the suggestions below. The following list of books like Harry Potter that won’t support Rowling is by no means exhaustive, either. These are just the tip of the iceberg.
The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
The late Ursula K. Le Guin was a fantasy master who wrote some of the most beloved books of all time. Among them are The Books of Earthsea, which make up a sprawling epic set on the titular fictional archipelago.
The first book, The Wizard of Earthsea, introduces the main series protagonist: a young mage named Ged. Ged possesses immense power and goes to a magical school to learn how to wield it, but he breaks off a lot more than he can chew and ends up traveling all over the place as he continues to learn how his power works and what he can do with it.
An Epic Series of Failures by Chris Rylander
Chris Rylander’s An Epic Series of Failures begins with The Legend of Greg, which introduces the eponymous hero. Greg Belmont is a normal kid with just one friend at the fancy prep school he attends, and he’s relatively close to his dad.
When Greg learns that he isn’t human and is actually a dwarf with magic abilities, he and his dad are kidnapped by the villainous Bro-Troll and he’s plunged into dwarven history as war begins to brew between the dwarves and their sworn enemy, the elves.
Fablehaven by Brandon Mulla
The Fablehaven series follows two siblings, Kendra and Seth, who discover that their grandfather is the current caretaker of a magical creature sanctuary. There are rules in place at Fablehaven that keep evil at bay, and the land is very carefully balanced through these almost sacred laws.
However, Seth isn’t a rule follower. When he breaks one, all hell breaks loose and he and Kendra have to not only clean up his mess, but also defeat evil forces to save the entire world.
The Forgotten Five by Lisa McMann
The Forgotten Five follows a group of kids whose supernatural criminal parents have either disappeared or died after fleeing society for an isolated island safehouse. Birdie can talk to animals; Brix is super athletic and self-heals; Tenner is a super-swimmer with night vision and enhanced hearing; Seven is a human chameleon. Cabot hasn’t shown any powers yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
When Birdie finds a note from her dad telling her to return to Estero City, find her mom, and deliver a map to her, she and her friends have to leave their private island and deal with the rest of society for the first time. As if that isn’t bad enough, the kids will likely be labeled as criminals the second they show their powers. But what choice do they have?
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Lyra Belacqua goes on a mission north to save her best friend from child snatchers. Along the way, she discovers there are multiple parallel worlds, falls in love, and meets her birth parents, neither of whom are particularly good people.
Once Lyra leaves her relatively secluded life at Oxford University, where she was left as a baby following a great flood, she learns she has a much greater purpose than she ever could have guessed. The world is going to war, and she’s a key player who can determine the fate of everyone in every world.
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Christopher Paolini’s four-book series known as The Inheritance Cycle follows a young farm boy named Eragon, who discovers that he’s actually destined to be a Dragon Rider. He names his dragon Saphira and together, the two of them must train, fight, and eventually save the world.
Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi
Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found introduces the titular hero, a middle schooler determined to restore magic to Brooklyn. His father, King Preston, is one of the most powerful magicians in the world, but now he’s missing—and it’s up to Kingston to figure out what happened, especially since his dad apparently took all the magic with him.
Magicians are leaving Echo City, Brooklyn en masse, but not Kingston. He’s determined to solve the mystery with the help of his cousin Veronica and his friend Too Tall Eddie, without letting anyone else see the same fate as his missing dad.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Imagine if Alice of Lewis Carroll’s The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland was a princess about to inherit the beloved and bizarre land—but then the Red Queen stages a successful coup and Alice’s only chance for survival means escaping into the mortal realm through a portal, her bodyguard the Mad Hatter by her side. Then when she’s of age, she returns to find her home world in shambles and must fight her evil aunt to reclaim her throne.
That’s the basic concept of Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars, a trilogy following Alyss Heart and Hatter Madigan as they fight to restore Wonderland to the glorious world it once was.
The Merlin Saga by T. A. Barron
The Merlin Saga, also known as The Lost Years of Merlin, tells a version of the Merlin myth that begins with him washing up on the shores of Wales with no memories, no name, and nowhere to call home. He begins to train in the enchanted land Fincayra and slowly uncovers how his fate and the isles are connected. Eventually, he learns that he’s going to become the greatest wizard of all time, and the series follows his progression from there.
Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
On a remote island in Wales, there’s an abandoned orphanage—the titular Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—and sixteen-year-old Jacob begins to uncover its secrets after a family tragedy sends him on an unexpected journey. Whatever happened here, it was more than “peculiar.” Monsters lurk in the dark and nothing is quite what it seems.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
In The Mysterious Benedict Society, dozens of children reply to a newspaper ad seeking particularly gifted kids. They’re put through a bizarre series of tests that only four of them pass, and then they’re given a top-secret mission. Reynie, George, Kate, and Constance must go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where there are no rules, and stop the mysterious Mr. Benedict’s twin from brainwashing the entire world.
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel
In The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, twelve-year-old Emmy is shipped to a prestigious English boarding school called Wellsworth because her dad disappeared years ago and her mom doesn’t have time for her. Before she leaves, she finds a box full of medallions in her family’s attic, along with a note that says they belonged to her dad.
At school, the symbols from the medallions are etched into the walls and books. Emmy and her new friends Jack and Lola dig into the mystery and find a secret society, the eponymous Order of Black Hollow Lane. The society may have had something to do with Emmy’s dad’s disappearance, and she’s determined to discover the truth.
The Pandava Quintet by Roshani Chokshi
In Aru Shah and the End of Time, the first book in Roshani Chokshi’s Pandava Quintet, twelve-year-old Aru’s frequent lies get her in trouble when three of her schoolmates call her out. To prove she doesn’t lie all the time, she agrees to show them that the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed. After this, she tells herself, she’ll never lie again.
Unfortunately, the lamp is cursed, and lighting it has major consequences. Aru accidentally frees the demon Sleeper, whose duty is to raise the God of Destruction. To stop Sleeper and save her mom and friends, who are now frozen in time, Aru has to find the reincarnations of the five Pandava brothers and journey through the Kingdom of Death. It’s a lot for one girl, but she’s pretty sure she can manage…
Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson
Pennyroyal Academy takes place in a fairytale-type world where an anonymous girl emerges from the forest and walks into the middle of a war. She enrolls at the titular school, which trains princesses and knights to fight witches and dragons, and is given the name “Evie.” Becoming a princess is a grueling process for her, especially when she figures out how personal the war is to her.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is a demigod, though he doesn’t figure that out until he’s attacked by monsters on a school field trip and later discovers his teacher is the mythical centaur Chiron.
In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, he goes to Camp Half-Blood, where he meets dozens of other demigods and learns his godly parent is none other than Poseidon, god of the seas. He also makes fast friends with Annabeth and Grover, who accompany him on a series of deadly quests to save the camp, New York City, Olympus itself, and the world.
Redwall by Brian Jacques
Redwall is the incredible saga of Mossflower Wood, where its mice are besieged by the one-eyed rat Cluny and his terrifying army. Cuny vows to conquer Redwall Abbey, and the mice’s only hope is to find the legendary Martin the Warrior’s lost sword.
A young, inexperienced apprentice named Matthias is sent to find the weapon. Whether he succeeds or fails, the fate of his people lies in his hands, and that’s a very heavy burden for one small mouse to bear.
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
Michael Scott’s The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel trilogy fictionalizes the actual person in tune with the legend that he was an alchemist who discovered a way to live forever, rather than a French scribe who died in 1418. In this book series, Flamel’s tomb is empty and he continues to live, protecting the Book of Abraham the Mage as it contains the secret of eternal life.
When Dr. John Dee plans to steal the book and destroy the world with it, Sophie and Josh Newman suddenly have to cope with their destiny: saving the world.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky introduces Tristan, a seventh grader, as he attempts to cope with what he considers his worst failure. He and his best friend, Eddie, were in a bus accident together and Tristan survived. Eddie didn’t. Now, Tristan cherishes Eddie’s story journal and dreads being sent to his grandparents’ Alabama farm to grieve in peace.
Unfortunately, his first night there, something steals Eddie’s journal and Tristan chases the creature down, then plays tug-of-war for the notebook under a tree. In the last moments, Tristan punches the tree and accidentally opens a portal into the MidPass, which is far more magical than mundane Earth. He’s thrown into battle alongside African American folk heroes and West African gods and tries his hardest to save the world.
The Uncommoners by Jennifer Bell
The Uncommoners trilogy follows Ivy Sparrow and her big brother, Seb, in the wake of their grandmother, Sylvie, being rushed to the hospital. In her absence, the house is ransacked and a bizarre police officer shows up to arrest them with a toilet brush. The siblings narrowly escape to an underground, magical city called Lundinor.
Evil is descending on the city and the Sparrow family is connected to an incredibly powerful object. They have to recover it and discover their family’s secrets before it’s too late for them to stop the villains.
The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts
The Witches of Willow Cove follows teenage witch Abby Shepherd as she tries to get ahold of her magic and being in seventh grade all at once. Then her hometown, Willow Cove, sees a bunch of bizarre and scary events while her best friend starts being secretive and deceitful. It’s messy, and Abby doesn’t know what to do.
But when the mysterious Miss Winters tells Abby she isn’t the only teenage witch in town, things slowly start to add up. Both Abby and this other witch are connected through something that happened in the past, and Miss Winters—who’s also a witch—offers to train them to use magic so they can begin putting the pieces together. However, Miss Winters also seems deceitful, and Abby isn’t so sure about what’s to come.
(featured image: Sourcebooks Young Readers; Penguin Random House; Saga Press; Rick Riordan Presents; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Disney Hyperion / The Mary Sue)
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