Fantasy Library Lessons – Intro to Fantasy

This semester in English, the Year 7 students are studying Fantasy. It’s a genre I love reading myself and I love that we don’t allocate them a class novel, instead the students can pick anything from the genre – graphic novel, novel, manga, short story – to read for the semester. They can read multiple books or just stick with one. They also do a film study and a creative writing piece. It’s a fun unit that has changed over time and I love where it is heading. Because I see each class once a fortnight, I can tie my library lessons into their fantasy unit.

I work on a flexible timetable and sometimes it can seem like an unattainable mission to get classes into the library. Especially high school classes. And I can understand why. The curriculum is crowded, teachers barely have enough time to cover the content they need to, plus they lose so many lessons for public holidays, student-free days, sports carnivals, and special events, and then there is also the extra hassle of getting students to class on time let alone moving them to the library.

But, this year, I have been able to book in all Year 7 English classes for fortnightly library lessons. Now I have access to the whole Year 7 cohort. It’s a very exciting opportunity. The change to high school means lots of skills they need to learn and a key time to continue to build and support a love of reading. But now that I have them coming, what should I do with them?

I usually do a mix of information and digital literacy skills and topic relevant activities, as well as lots of book talks and time for reading, browsing and borrowing. Integrating their English unit on fantasy with all of this offered some great opportunities for fun activities.

Intro To Fantasy

Now, I love talking just as much as I love writing overly long blog posts. So while I could very happily stand in front of the classes and wax lyrical about the virtues of the fantasy genre, I’m not so sure the students would enjoy it. So, instead I try to live by my goal to make sure it’s the students who do the most talking in my library lessons.

For the intro to fantasy lesson, I start by sorting the students into groups. I use coloured slips of paper, cut into squares and in a basket or box or whatever I have on hand.

Each group then completes one of four rotations. I’ve used a variety of these in the past and usually try to add something new each year.


Selecting a fantasy book. As they each need to select a book to read, I prefer to do this in smaller groups, rather than on-mass. Having just one group enables me to talk with each student, get to know them and their interests and guide them to a book they are more likely to enjoy.

The Magic Swamp. As a group, the team must work together to cross from one section of the library to another. They cannot step foot on the swamp (carpet), lest they face an untimely demise. They can only use magical lily pads (five pieces of green paper) to cross the space. The lily pad can be placed multiple times but must have a body part touching it at all times or it will float away. The lily pad cannot be dragged along with a foot or hand, it must be stationery when placed.

Storytelling. Many fantasy characters gather around a fire and spin yarns. I love the Story Cubes and I have quite the collection. I give the group the dice and they have to tell a story together. The students really love this simple activity.

The Round Table. Solving riddles is often featured in fantasy novels. This activity asks students to watch a section from The Lord of the Rings, where Frodo and Gollum ask each other riddles. The group scan a QR code with an iPad to watch it and then solve a few riddles.

VR Fantasy world – using phones and VR headsets to scan codes and explore 360 videos of fantasy worlds in VR. There are a few awesome fantasy world rollercoaster 360 videos available on YouTube, which gives students a great VR experience.

Explore the Fantasy LibPath. This is a page I have created on our library platform. It has links to book recommendations, fantasy webcomics, book trailers, and information about the fantasy genre. The students access this on their computers or with the library iPads via QR codes.


These are some of the rotations I have done with groups. I have now reduced it to just the top four, as the YouTube app no longer supports VR on iPhones so I need another solution for that and we do the last one as a whole group in another class. I have found four groups is manageable and they get a little longer at each rotation.

I also make sure each group, aside from the one selecting novels, can work independently. They have instructions, iPads, QR codes and everything they need. I explain the rotations at the start of the lesson and that means I can focus my whole attention on the group selecting novels. We borrow all together at the end.

I’ve found this to be a fun introductory lesson. It could easily be spread out to multiple lessons. It also gives me plenty of time to work with students to select a fantasy novel that they are most likely to read.