These fantasies are about magical schools, where the everyday becomes fantastic. Many of these fantasies pre-date the wildly popular Harry Potter series, but all contain similar elements, including magical teachers, and magic as part of the curriculum. Some of these stories portray schools in a magical world, where students must deal with magic as well as normal school issues such as bullying or self-esteem.
To find more books like the titles below, begin with a subject search of “schools — juvenile fiction” and a keyword search of “magic.”
Gift of the Unmage. 2007.
As the seventh child born of the union of two seventh children, fourteen-year-old Thea has not fulfilled her parents’ hope of having special magical powers, and they try a last, desperate measure before sending her to a school for those with no magical ability. However, the students can’ escape magic, and it finds its way into the Wandless Academy. Begins the Worldweavers series.
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The School for Good and Evil. 2013.
With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile, her best friend Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. When the girls’ fortunes are reversed and Sophie is at the School for Evil and Agatha at the School for Good, the girls are convinced that a mistake has been made, but in trying to remedy it they learn more about themselves and fairy tale conventions than they bargained for.
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Skin Hunger. 2007.
In alternate chapters, Sadima travels from her farm home to the city and becomes assistant to a heartless man who is trying to restore knowledge of magic to the world, and a group of boys fights to survive in the academy that has resulted from his efforts. A sequel, Sacred Scars, was published in 2009.
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Groosham Grange. 2008.
After being expelled from school, thirteen-year-old David Eliot is sent to Groosham Grange, a spooky and sinister boarding school where ghosts and ghouls rule the school and the students study witchcraft. Originally published in 1988 it is followed by Returned to Groosham Grange: The Unholy Grail.
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Jones, Diana Wynne.
The Lives of Christopher Chant. 1988.
Chronologically, this is the first Chrestomanci story. Chrestomancis are nine-lived wizards, each of whom live at Chrestomanci Castle. Their children are joined by other magically-talented children to form a kind of boarding school where the students learn about themselves and their powers. Some members of the school venture to other worlds or the current Chrestomanci travels to other worlds to deal with problems.
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Jones, Diana Wynne.
Year of the Griffin. 2000.
This is the sequel to Dark Lord of Derkholm. In this tale, younger siblings and new characters come together at the University to study magic and encounter all kinds of trouble and adventure.
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Lackey, Mercedes and Rosemary Edghill.
After her family is killed, Spirit White is taken to Oakhurst Academy, a combination orphanage and school for those with magical powers, where she and her new friends investigate when students start mysteriously disappearing. Sequels Conspiracies, Sacrifices, and Victories continue the Shadow Grail series.
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Missing Magic. 2007.
Thanks to his influential uncle Kelver, Ned’s gotten into an elite new school. But there’s a problem — everyone there can do magic. And Ned? Not a lick. Amid whispers of the terrifying Necromancers, Ned struggles to adjust to his new situation. Then, just as he’s getting accustomed to having his hair turned into snakes and his books into bricks, the Necromancers strike! Ned and his classmates are kidnapped. But without magic, how can he possibly help them escape?
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The Cadet of Tildor. 2013.
At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers, but when her mentor is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and best friend Alec struggle to do what is right in a world of crime and political intrigue.
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The Worst Witch. 1981.
It’s Mildred’s first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches; but already she knows she’s the worst at everything. When she makes a particularly disastrous mistake, Mildred decides to run away. On her way she makes a shocking discovery and must overcome her problems to save the school. The Worst Witch returns in several sequels.
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The Hound of Rowan. 2007.
After glimpsing a hint of his destiny in a mysterious tapestry, twelve-year-old Max McDaniels becomes a student at Rowan Academy, where he trains in “mystics and combat” in preparation for war with an ancient enemy that has been kidnapping children like him. Begins the Tapestry series.
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Midnight for Charlie Bone. 2002.
Charlie is reasonably happy, living with his impoverished mother and paternal grandmother. But when his father’s strange family observes his uncanny talent, he is sent to a strange school with a sinister headmaster. Soon Charlie and his new friends become part of an ancient battle that continues in the other books in the Children of the Red King series.
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Alanna: The First Adventure. 1983.
Alanna’s dream is to be a knight; so she takes her brother’s place and travels to the palace of Tortall as a page. But she must learn to accept herself and her magic before she can defeat her enemies and become a lady knight. Alanna continues her journey in the Song of the Lioness series.
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First Test. 1999.
Keladry of Mindelan is determined to be a lady knight, like her heroine Sir Alanna. She must prove herself to the other boys and her instructors as well as overcoming physical and magical challenges before she can become a page. Read more about Keladry in the Protector of the Small series.
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Sandry’s Book. 1997.
Four children, outcast and misfit among their families and peoples, are brought to Winding Circle to learn a new way of life and discover their hidden talents. Tris, Daja, and Briar’s books follow in the Circle of Magic series.
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Rowling, J. K.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. 1998.
Harry Potter has a miserable life with his relatives until magical things begin to happen and he finds himself at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. In his first year, he makes new friends and enemies and faces a terrifying challenge. Harry Potter continues his studies and faces greater evils in six sequels.
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The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. 2009
In New York Between, a parallel Manhattan that is home to various creatures of folklore, Neef meets her counterparts at Miss Van Loon’s school for human changelings, where Neef learns the basics of diplomacy and soon gets into trouble.
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A College of Magics. 2002.
Teenager Faris Nallaneen, heir to the small northern dukedom of Galazon, is still too young to claim her title, so her despotic Uncle Brinker insists she be sent to Greenlaw College, where all students major in magic. Sequel A Scholar of Magics continues the tale.
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Wizard’s Hall. 1991.
Poor Henry. It’s not enough that his mother has sent him away from home to learn magic. It’s not enough that everyone at his new school calls him Thornmallow because he’s “prickly on the outside, squishy within.” It’s not enough that the only talent he shows at Wizard”s Hall is an ability to make messes of even the simplest spells. Now, when Wizard’s Hall is threatened by a cruel sorcerer’s fearsome beast, it is up to Henry — er, Thornmallow — to figure out how to save not only his new friends but also the entire school for wizards.
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