Three Books for the Young Medievalist

With summer ending and kids getting back to school, I thought it would be a good time to share some suggestions for three books about the Middle Ages that would be great reads for your pre-teen medievalist!

The Big Book of Knights, Nobles and Knaves, by Adria Fruitos and Alissa Heyman

  • For ages 7 to 10

If you are looking for a way to introduce your children to some of the stories from the Middle Ages, this picture book is a great way to start. Adapted from a Spanish version, it contains retellings of eleven tales, including The Song of Roland, Robin Hood, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Each story is about eight to ten pages long, and gives a reasonably accurate (but rushed) adaptation of the original work. The stories are not desensitized for younger readers - the ending of Tristan and Isolde, for example, is told in all its tragic sorrow. 

Older readers will also like that the author uses up a little space to explain the medieval origins of these stories, noting who the author was and its importance as a literary work. They will also appreciate the artwork found in the pages of the book - it’s beautiful and elegant, with images of predominant faces and large eyes being used throughout.

Hopefully it can be a book that will inspire and entertain kids to come back to and read again and again, or have their parents read to them on a nightly basis.

Buy this book from Amazon.com

It’s Feudal, Feudal World: A Different Medieval History, by Stephen Shapiro

  • For ages 8 to 13

They are telling the truth when they say it is different from what you would expect in a kids book about the Middle Ages - they have created an incredibly visual guide, where the information is told through graphics, charts and maps. This will appeal to the reader who prefers bullet points over paragraphs and a bite-sized approach instead of going in-depth. Check out some pages here. That makes it a perfect introduction to medieval history for this generation of pre-teens.

Its 44 pages cover a lot of ground - history, religion, daily life - and the author has come up with a lot of unusual facts. For example, did you know that 20% of the books in King Edward III’s library were adventure stories, and that 47% of all infant deaths happened during the harvest season? Some of the facts and details are a little too simplified, but the book gives such a broad approach - going far past a Eurocentric view of the Middle Ages - that the younger reader will find lots to interest him or her.

Buy this book from Annick Press

I Was There … 1066, by Jim Eldridge

  • For ages 9 to 12

“It’s 1066, and Edwin is a young knight in training. He’s seen his father in battle, but there’s a new invasion and Edwin’s father has a decision to make - does he let Edwin fight?” - that is the hook to get your child to read about the Battle of Hastings. This chapter book follows a tried and true formula by telling its story through a 12-year-old protagonist, with lots of adventure and excitement. For kids who like to read fiction over non-fiction, this would be an excellent way of offering them a chance to experience a little bit of medieval warfare.

If your kids like more of this kind of historical fiction, author Jim Eldridge has penned over a dozen other similar books, going from Ancient Rome to the World War Two.

Learn more about this book from Scholastic

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