There is something truly awe-inspiring about a giant! These characters are truly “larger than life” and add a wonderful dose of fantasy to any story. Some giants are good and others are bad. Some like to help people, while others only want to eat them. Whatever your preference is on giants, good, bad, or ugly, we have something on this list for you. These books aren’t incredibly big, but they certainly contain some big characters, big personalities, and big adventures!
2023 Reading Challenge, these books will complete the prompt: “A story with a giant”
The BFG (Roald Dahl)
I have to start this list off with one of my favorite books about giants: The BFG. Orphaned Sophie is having trouble sleeping during the dreaded “witching hour,” and even though she knows she’ll get in trouble if she’s caught, she decides to take a peek out the window. There, she sees something completely unexpected: a giant, opening the curtains of bedrooms across the street, sticking a long, thin trumpet into the window, and blowing something inside. When he turns around and sees her, she’s snatched right from the room and taken back to his home in Giant Country. But, instead of eating her (as she fears), the Big Friendly Giant (BFG) becomes her friend. While Sophie is not allowed to return to her orphanage, for fear that the secret of giants will get out, the two will have to make a return trip to England, to save the citizens there from being devoured by the other, very wicked giants, who also live in Giant Country.
Note: I’m limiting this list to one entry per author, but I’m making a slight exception in the case of Roald Dahl. If you would like other giant-themed books by this author, consider also James and the Giant Peach or The Enormous Crocodile.
The Selfish Giant (Oscar Wilde)
In this classic tale by Irish writer Oscar Wilde, a giant creates a beautiful garden for himself. It’s so beautiful, in fact, that everyone wants to spend time in it, including the local children, who use the spot as a place to meet up with friends and to play. But, the giant is terribly selfish, and cannot stand the thought of others enjoying what he has created exclusively for himself. But, when he builds a wall to keep the children out, perpetual winter comes, bringing along other unexpected consequences. When the giant discovers to his shock that spring has suddenly returned, even though the wall is still up, he learns a very valuable lesson about kindness, compassion, and sharing the blessings that we have been given.
This is a powerful tale written for children, but which can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, including adults!
I Kill Giants (Joe Kelly)
Barbara Thorson is a bit different from her classmates. For one thing, she wears quirky animal ears on her head. For another, she has a horrible secret upstairs in her house, something so ugly and terrifying that she cannot confront it. And thirdly, she kills giants. She studies them, hunts them, and ultimately destroys them. Of course, no one believes in giants anymore, which is part of the problem. But, with her trusty hammer and extensive knowledge, there’s nothing she can’t do. But, things aren’t all as they seem. With a bully threatening her with physical violence, a possible new friend, and a deeply concerned guidance councilor dogging her every move, will Barbara be able to confront the secret she’s hiding? Or will she become consumed by it?
A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)
Seven minutes past midnight. Thirteen-year-old Conor wakes up to find a monster outside of his bedroom window. But, this isn’t the monster that Conor has been expecting. It’s not the one from his nightmare, the one he has had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. This one is very different. it’s ancient, and wild. And it wants something from Conor, something so terrible and so dangerous that he’s not sure that he is able to give it. The monster wants the truth.
This book was originally conceived by award-winning author Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Fellow author Patrick Ness stepped in to make sure the tale gets told, spinning a tale that is both haunting and darkly funny, an emotional tale of mischief, loss, and monsters–both real and imagined.
Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift)
Ship’s surgeon Lemuel Gulliver is used to travel. But, in this book, he finds himself going on a series of increasingly improbable adventures, and meeting all manner of interesting people. In Lilliput, Gulliver towers over a world in miniature, standing tall as a giant amongst the tiny inhabitants. But, it’s in Brobdingnag where he finds real giants, and finds that he is now the tiny one. On the flying island of Laputa, he discovers a society of spectators who spend so much time planning and calculating that they do not realize that their entire country lies in ruins. And on his last adventure, Gulliver meets the Houyhnhnms, gentle, intelligent horses whom he comes to admire, as opposed to the Yahoos, filthy, beastly creatures who look disturbingly like humans. This classic tale of adventure has been entertaining readers for centuries, and is a classic well-worth reading!