What a year, magical readers! 2020 brought with it many challenges, to put it mildly. Here at Little Witchery, we are grateful for the books that got us through this year, the silver linings that we will cherish and revisit, the books that reminded us of the magic in a world that felt like it was falling to pieces. From the stories that swept us away in fantasy to the poems that grounded us more firmly in the natural world, we don’t know what we would have done without these incredible reads. Thank you to all the authors, illustrators, and publishers who created these books, for understanding that we need magic more than ever right now, and that books are the ultimate magical portal.
The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane: The oldest and most powerful spells are written into nature. As humans become more removed from the natural world, this deep magic becomes lost. The Lost Spells is a lyrical reclamation of the magical language of flora and fauna. A beautifully illustrated collection of poems inspired by the mysterious wonders of the wild, this book completely stunned me with its elegance.
Brina: A Pagan Picture Book by Andrea Stein: This book makes my witchy inner child’s heart so happy! It’s about a magical little witch who questions her magical path and asks: what kind of which should she be? What follows is an enchanting journey that explores a variety of bewitching possibilities, while introducing basic pagan concepts like altars, moon phases, healing crystals, and hedge witchery. This gentle, rhyming story is an empowering must-read for any little witchling who is curious about their own magic.
The Hand-Me-Down Magic Series by Corey Ann Haydu: A sweet chapter book series about everyday enchantment and the magic of friendship, these books are emotionally complex and thought-provoking, but accessible and easy to read. They feature a multiracial and multigenerational Latinx family, with Spanish words interspersed throughout. With chapters that alternate between two relatable and engaging protagonists, they are sure to be a winner with young readers who like realistic stories with a touch of magic thrown in.
Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega: A spooky and fun middle grade thriller about two best friends who cast a spell that accidentally invokes evil spirits, this one is packed with 80’s pop culture references, lots of humor, and a lovely storyline about family and remembering those we’ve lost. More please!
Unfamiliar Familiars by Megan Lynn Kott: This book is pure fun. A perfectly light and humorous read for animal lovers, young and old, this book will help you to figure out which animal is best suited to be your familiar spirit.
Seance Tea Party by Reimena Yee: This book is such a gift! A cozy graphic novel about a girl who doesn’t want to grow up, this book will appeal to anyone who prefers the magic and imaginative fantasy of childhood over adult reality. It gracefully tackles the topics of loss and letting go, while retaining a colorful and fun storyline throughout.
Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk: A deeply moving and beautifully written middle grade historical novel set during the Great Depression, Echo Mountain features a wise old hag, untamed wilderness, and a lovable protagonist. A coming-of-age story that celebrates folk medicine and the beauty of the natural world, this book is for kids who want to learn to listen to their own inner voice and retain a sense of wildness. An atmospheric, tender triumph!
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh: An endearing story full of lovable outsider characters, this graphic novel contains a perfect balance of realism and magic. In this book, appearances are not what they seem: the evil witch may or not be a sweet and eccentric old lady, and Snap herself may be more magical than she ever thought. I love the diversity and inclusivity in this book: the characters are so fully dimensional, and the themes of acceptance and friendship left me with all of the warm and fuzzy feelings I could hope for.
Secrets Of The Witch: An Initiation Into Our History and Our Wisdom by Elsa Whyte and Julie Légère: Oh my goddess, the pure gorgeousness of this book! From the elegant and detailed writing to the luminous illustrations, to the red ribbon that ties the physical book shut. A wonderful introduction to witchcraft for children and young adults, it’s jam-packed with information. The perfect gift for a young feminist witch!
Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse: A charming graphic novel about a family of urban witches, Witches of Brooklyn beautifully balances enchantment and everyday reality, humor and seriousness, and sweetness and spookiness. The art is super cute and the writing is sharp! I loved how gracefully this story handled some difficult topics like separating art from the artist, how to handle major loss, and accepting one’s emotions without shame. Overall, it was a fantastic series opener and I’m eagerly awaiting the next book!
On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Méndez: This magical #ownvoices novel for middle graders is about a girl who must protect her siblings when her mother goes missing. It fuses the story of Peter Pan with themes of immigration, poverty, and privilege. Timely, accessible, and incredibly moving!
Season of the Witch: A Spellbinding History of Witches and Other Magical Folkby Matt Ralphs: A comprehensive survey of witches across history, this YA nonfiction book explores real witches, fictional sorceresses, and magical women in folklore and myth. Its large format and cute illustrations make it appealing to a wide age range. This would make a great gift for any magically curious child!
The Little Witch’s Book of Spells by Ariel Kusby: Written by Little Witchery owner Ariel Kusby, this book is our hands-on children’s grimoire full of spells, rituals, and activities to guide kids (and inner children) along the enchanted path of magic. Hope you love it, magical ones!
Ariel Kusby is a writer, children’s bookseller, and practicing witch based in Portland, OR. She is the author of The Little Witch’s Book of Spells (Chronicle Books, August 2020), a magical handbook for children 8 to 12 years old and the owner of Little Witchery, a magical community for children and adults.