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Ask Slashdot: Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy For Kids? 726

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-them-started-early dept.
Jason Levine writes "My son is 8 years old. I'd love to get him interested in science-fiction, but most of the books I can think of seem to be targeted to older kids/adults. Thinking that the length of some novels might be off-putting to him, I read him some of the short stories in Isaac Asimov's I, Robot. He liked these, but I could tell he was having a hard time keeping up. I think the wording of the stories was too advanced and there was too much talking and not enough action. Personally, I love Asimov, but I think much of it just went over his head. Which science fiction and/or fantasy books would you recommend for an 8-year-old? (Either stories he could read himself or that we could read together over the course of a few weeks.)"
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Ask Slashdot: Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy For Kids?

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  • Tripods (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:48PM (#40388553)

    Christopher's Tripods trilogy is aimed at the younger reader. There's even an old British TV adaptation of the first two books.

  • by fuo (941897) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:49PM (#40388575)
    Ender's Game.
  • Heinlein Juvies. (Score:5, Informative)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:49PM (#40388579)

    'Space Cadet', 'Rocket Ship Galileo', 'Have Space Suit Will Travel' etc etc.

  • Terry Pratchet (Score:3, Informative)

    by daw1234 (585433) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:50PM (#40388597)
    Great writer.
  • Fantasy (Score:5, Informative)

    by COMON$ (806135) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#40388621) Journal
    Narnia or Dark is Rising, both are fast paced and worthy of a few chapters at a time. I was read them when I was a kid, by the time we finished Narnia I was reading the books to my parents and was way ahead of my classmates on a reading level.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#40388629) Journal
    I don't recall getting into this stuff seriously until I was 11 or 12 but names I would throw out would be Madeline L'Engle (Wrinkle in Time), C.S. Lewis (Perelandra, That Hideous Strength), Ray Bradbury (Martian Chronicles or his short stories), Lowis Lowry (The Giver), Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game although it's a long one for kids), Robert Heinlein (The Star Beast, The Rolling Stones), Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood's End), Terry Pratchett (Johnny Maxwell series) ... now, since I was young there have been a whole raft of others and I think Neil Gaiman is even writing children's books now. I guess some names I've heard that you can look into are Andre Norton, Douglas E. Richards, Terrance Dicks, Donald Moffitt, Larry Niven, Jane Yolen, Gary Paulson, etc.

    Just so you know, Asimov did edit collections of sci-fi for children (on his way to having his name on 500 books) and I think I remember Young Mutants and Tomorrow's Children being okay collections.
  • e. e. doc smith (Score:4, Informative)

    by Imagix (695350) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#40388635)
    How about the Lensman series?
  • Jules Verne (Score:3, Informative)

    by ddonato (2666703) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:52PM (#40388663)
    I'd say anything by Jules Verne. I read most of his work between 8 and 10 and I couldn't be happier.
  • by KendyForTheState (686496) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:53PM (#40388669)
    Oh, and, while not really Science Fiction, "The Mad Scientists' Club" by Bertrand R. Brinley was pretty cool.
  • Danny Dunn... (Score:4, Informative)

    by LoLobey (1932986) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#40388771)
    Books I remember liking from that age that had a science or sci-fi bent were Danny Dunn [wikipedia.org] stories (there were quite a few books, don't know if any are available) and a book called the Dinosaur and the Egg (by Stephanie Lewis?). Lit my imagination and an appetite for all things sci-ency.
  • Kid's Sci-Fi (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#40388799) Journal

    There's plenty of kid-focused Sci-Fi
    Anything with Janet Assimov's name on it is kid friendly.
    I loved the Lucky Starr series by Isaac Asimov (under the name "Paul French")
    Heinlen even wrote some kids books.

    Most of the 'big' sci-fi authors have written stories for kids.
    You just have to go looking for it.

  • SF or Fantasy? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frequency Domain (601421) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:10PM (#40389069)

    For SF, the Heinlein juveniles: Red Planet, Have Space Suit Will Travel, Between Planets, Space Cadet, etc. if your kid can deal with young-teen reading levels. If you need something younger, Asimov had "Norby" and "Lucky Starr", there were a set of books about "Danny Dunn" in the 50's and 60's, Brinley wrote "The Mad Scientist Club" for Boy's Life around the same time, and there were a bunch of "Tom Swift" books - Jr, not Sr, the latter are way too dated. Also from the 50's, check out "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet" by E. Cameron. Fifteen years ago my own kids plowed through the "Animorphs" series, but I thought they were formulaic and trite - I guess the recommendation depends on whether you're looking for "good" books or something that the kids will find engaging. In the same vein, Coville's wrote a bunch of lightweight but fun things such as "My Teacher is an Alien".

    I would NOT recommend Verne or HG Wells for modern young readers, the prose seems long-winded and obtuse by modern standards, but after your kid's hooked he can certainly go back and fill in with these.

    For fantasy, you couldn't do better than "The Enchanted Forest Chronicles" by Patricia C Wrede. Hold off on Tolkien until later, "The Hobbit" might be okay for a read-aloud family activity but is a bit much for most 8 year olds.

  • Lloyd Alexander (Score:4, Informative)

    by Medievalist (16032) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:19PM (#40389223)

    Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series for fantasy, Heinlein's juvenile stuff for SF. And don't ask him to read the books, read the books to him. Let him find his own things to read (it'll be godawful stuff in your opinion, and that's OK).

  • Tom Swift (Score:5, Informative)

    by arikol (728226) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:32PM (#40389495) Journal

    the Tom Swift books are pretty fun for kids. Crazy airplanes, spaceships, submarines, and all kinds of weird things. The books will make YOU cringe a little (not the best prose in the world and sometimes quite tacky) but may spark the imagination of a child.

    Hardcore sci-fi can start being interesting soon, but most of that does not get REALLY interesting until the children become old enough to read between the lines and see the actual point of the stories. At least a little. Books such as Animal Farm (okay, not sci-fi, but bear with me) are often seen as boring by children who haven't trained themselves to read books and understand the point. Most hardcore sci-fi isn't about robots, but rather about the human condition. Choose something simpler that really is about robots to begin with. The rest comes when the children start exploring by themselves.

  • Re:Don't try (Score:5, Informative)

    by cygnwolf (601176) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:06PM (#40390023)
    If you want to stay with Asimov, he wrote the Lucky Starr books under a pen name, they were targeted at younger boys and were much more accessible and understandable by me than, say, Foundation
  • Re:Don't try (Score:4, Informative)

    by dan828 (753380) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:20PM (#40390217)
    Some of Heinlein's early stuff was aimed at a younger audience. Red Planet, Time for the Stars, Farmer in the Sky, Podkayne of Mars, Citizen of the Galaxy, to name a few.
  • Re:Don't try (Score:5, Informative)

    by greenfruitsalad (2008354) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:58PM (#40390769)

    I also forgot to mention Terry Pratchett. He wrote quite a few books for his daughter.

    There's Johnny Maxwell trilogy which is cool, Nome trilogy which is hilarious and cool, Carpet people which is also very funny, there are also Discworld novels for kids but I haven't read those.

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