Long before Rowling, there were writers engaging children with stories of ordinary children having extraordinary adventures. Many of these books involved fantasy or science fiction. Often, the hero or heroine felt like a misfit in the reality of everyday life but was transformed by being transported, at least for a time, to an alternate reality. Still other books involved boys and girls coping with their lives being changed by death or war.
C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" is a terrific series for children. The book "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" has been particularly popular. Younger children enjoy hearing the books read aloud while older children often prefer to read them on their own.
One of the authors who is frequently compared to J.K. Rowling is Roald Dahl. While he is best known for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," he also wrote a number of other children's books. Several, including "James and the Giant Peach" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" have been made into movies.
Other authors Rawlings' fans might enjoy are Madeline L'Engle, whose book "A Wrinkle in Time" was awarded a Newbery Medal in 1963, and Diana Wynne Jones, who is also an award winning author. Her books "Archer's Goon," "Castle in the Air," and "Howl's Moving Castle," all received the ALA (American Library Association) Best Book for Young Adults designation. They are written for 8 to 12 year olds.
If you have younger children looking for extraordinary adventures, they will probably enjoy P.L. Travers' "Mary Poppins" and Mary Norton's "The Borrowers." This list would not be complete without "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett, my all-time favorite. In any case, as you can see, if your children enjoyed the Harry Potter books, there are many other appealing books available to them.
If you have never read any of the Harry Potter books, find out what all the excitement is about. Move around Scholastic's Official Harry Potter site to learn about Rowling's Harry Potter books. Scholastic is the American publisher of the Harry Potter books, and this site has interviews, games, discussion guides, and more for parents, teachers, and kids. After visiting the site, when you look for books that will appeal to children who like the Harry Potter books, you'll have a better idea of what that means.