Starting Here: The Littlest TBR List

Before my official themed posts start tomorrow, I thought I’d do something quick and small: sharing my son’s Wyrd and Wonder reading list. Although  it wasn’t planned, this pleasantly aligned with the W&W challenge of the day: getting started in fantasy.

My son is only a few months old, but I’ve been reading to him since he was a newborn, and he’s been turning pages on books since he was 3 months. Books are his favorite thing; his first laugh was for a book (which I somehow managed to catch on video.) I bought some new ones for him this month that I hope will grow his interest in fantasy.

I already had a copy of 100 First Words For Little Geeks (and it’s so amazing), but I also purchased Snow Fight: A Warcraft Tale. They’re both pretty straightforward when it comes to their fantasy elements. (I’m not even going to pretend I bought Snow Fight for my son. I straight-up did it for my decade-long addiction to WoW.)

Animalia, Grandfather Twilight, Where The Wild Things Are and Flotsam don’t seem like really good fantasy choices. You’d think that picture books with elves, magic and castles would fit the bill of a fantasy list a little better.

But I chose Animalia, Grandfather Twilight and Where The Wild Things Are specifically because they started my path towards loving fantasy and all things speculative. I specifically remember spending hours with these books, staring at the illustrations and being enamored with their fantastical elements. They had this alluring otherness; they seemed to reveal places of limitless dreams, beauty and adventure. It created a longing in me for something else, and ultimately made my imagination a vital part of my happiness. And I think that in a way, that’s a key part of what it means to love fantasy.

I don’t believe that introducing children to Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis or Tolkien is the only way to grow a love of fantasy in them; I don’t think it requires tropes such as wizards, elves, castles or grand scale events. I think it can come from any impossible image—something fascinating and wondrous that gives a child their first realization that they posses the ability to imagine places and adventures unbound by the reality they live in. To learn to love that part of you, to exist within it from a young age and allow it to take you places…that’s how I want my son to start his journey towards fantasy.


[Have any picture books to recommend that transported you or your family to another place? Let me know! I’m always trying to add to my list!]  

6 thoughts on “Starting Here: The Littlest TBR List

  1. rolltosavepod

    I completely agree with the sentiment that there are many paths towards growing an interest in fantasy. Both my kids love the genre, and my son has only just started the Hobbit (he’s 10). I can’t think of any specifics that I foisted on them when they were younger – but most kids books had a wonderful element of the fantastic.

    1. The Thirteenth Shelf Post author

      I know. I’m coming to realize as an adult just how fantastical a lot of children’s stuff is. Even Dr. Seuss is technically fantasy. It’s very nice!

  2. Jenna @ Falling Letters

    Hi Rin, I’ve come across your blog while browsing Wyrd & Wonder posts 🙂 As a children’s librarian, I love what you’ve written about sparking imagination with all kinds of images, not just traditional fantasy. I hope you and your son have a lovely time reading together.

    1. The Thirteenth Shelf Post author

      Hi Jenna! As someone who spent the first half of her career working for the library system, it’s been such a great joy to introduce my baby to all the books I’ve come across in my time there. I’m so looking forward to bringing him to my old library, teaching him book etiquette and watching him grow in appreciation of the system. 🙂 Thank you for all you do for children, and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Jake is Reading

    This is so adorable! I absolutely agree with you. Where the Forest Meets the Sea had a profound effect one me as a kid. It’s an 80s picture book about the Australian rainforest that was taken from an animated film I believe. I remember imagining myself walking into forest on the pages – definitely that sense of ‘other ess’ you described. I think you can see read through on YouTube

    1. Jake is Reading

      I also loved another illustrated book but can’t remember the title and haven’t been able to find it on Google. It was about a giant red kettle-looking contraption that would wander around not knowing its purpose.


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