I have one child who loves history. His favorite topic of study is knights and the middle ages. I’m trying to include more interest-led units in our homeschool line up, so a unit on European Middle Ages seemed like a no brainer.
I had no problem finding books for this unit study . . . well almost no problem. There are a plethora of books available. I was looking for age-appropriate books that weren’t steeped in sorcery for this particular unit. I still found so many great books. Here are some of the books we included in our book basket or as read alouds for our European Middle Ages unit study.
Be sure to keep a look out for my upcoming post that details everything we did in our Middle Ages unit study. And, just for reference, at the time of this unit study, my kids were 10, 8, and 3. I’ve also included a video to show you inside some of the books.
Books in bold were our favorites.
- Walter the Baker – This fun Eric Carle book takes a look at the fabled origins of yummy hand twisted pretzels.
- The Knight and the Dragon – This nearly wordless story takes a humorous look at what happens when a knight and not-so-fierce dragon prepare for battle.
- The Squire and the Scroll – This allegory explores the importance of overcoming temptation as a brave squire sets out with his knight, facing danger and temptation at every corner. The squire trusts the words of his scroll, which will not lead him astray.
- Small Knight and George – Small knight must defeat a dragon – but he doesn’t really want to fight. See what happens when Small Knight makes an unlikely friend while searching for a fierce dragon.
- Knights (Usborne Beginners) – A fantastic introduction to knights, this easy non-fiction reader is filled with photographs, illustrations, and little bits of information.
- Castles (Usborne Beginners) – Another great book from the Usborne Beginners series, this one explores all things medieval castle.
- If You Were a Kid in a Medieval Castle – I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite book. It tries to mix a storyline in with factual tidbits here and there, but I found neither to be very well developed. My kids did enjoy the pictures.
- A Medieval Feast – Follow along with the preparations for a grand feast! With captivating illustrations, and opportunities to dive in with more facts and details, this is a great way to explore what medieval feasting was all about.
- Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything – I realize this isn’t really a European book, but I was hoping it might pique some curiosity about the Eastern world, and it did! I do recommend this one for kids 8 and up.
- Saint George and the Dragon – Often when we thing of the middle ages, we imagine knights slaying dragons. This book was everything my kids hoped for in a medieval tale. They also appreciated the detailed medieval style illustrations. (Some of the pictures are pretty graphic.)
- The Kitchen Knight – Another classic knight tale, Sir Galahad disguises himself as a kitchen helper to discover who his true friends are. When help is needed to rescue a fair maiden, he is quick to volunteer and prove himself as a knight. But who wants help from a mere kitchen worker?
- Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci – So many times brilliant people in our world are teased and made fun of because their minds don’t work like the rest of us. Such was the case for Fibonacci. Little did his peers know that Fibonacci’s discoveries would be discussed and praise for centuries to come.
- Look Inside a Castle – One of the top favorites in our home, this lift-a-flap book follows Adam as he discovers life as a page and what it takes to become a knight.
- A Year in a Castle – There is so much to discover on these pages. My kids like following the various characters over the course of a year to see what shenanigans they get into. It seems we discover something new every time we look at this one.
- The Making of a Knight – This is one of my children’s all time favorite books. I’ve already upgraded it once from a copy that was falling apart and I’m going to need to do that again soon. The beautiful illustrations and captivating story are a perfect introduction to knighthood in the middle ages.
- Robert the Bruce: The King in the Spider – Engaging illustrations tell a true story of persistence.
- The Very Last Castle – An adorable tale about being brave and not fearing something just because it’s different. This is great for all ages from preschool right on up.
- Castles Magnified – This fun seek and find book is filled with loads of images and information to help your kids learn all about Castles in the Middle Ages.
- The Hawk of the Castle – This is one of my favorite books from this unit study. The illustrations are absolutely stunning as the author takes a closer look at falconry in the middle ages.
- Sir Cumference Series – Follow along as Sir Cumference, his family, and friends embark on many activities that help them discover math all around them. There are several books in this series.
Text Heavy Picture Books
- Knightology – If you like the other books in the “ology” series, you’ll like this one. Filled with flaps, envelopes, and interactive elements, take part in a medieval quest as you learn more about the truth behind Sir Lancelot and the knights of the round table.
- Dragons: Legend and Lore of Dinosaurs – In this interactive book written from a Young Earth Creationist’s viewpoint, the author compares legends of dragons from around the world and suggest that dragons and dinosaurs are one-in-the-same.
- You Wouldn’t Want to be a Medieval Knight – Like other books in this series, the author uses cynical wit to explore an often glamorized period of history.
- You Wouldn’t Want to be a Viking Explorer – Life for Vikings surely wasn’t glamorous. See why in this book from the “You Wouldn’t Want to . . .” series.
- The Medieval Messenger – What would tabloids have written if they were around in the Middle Ages? Find out in this humorous newspaper-style picture book.
- 50 Things You Don’t Know About the Middle Ages – If you’re looking for a book full of facts about the Middle Ages, look no farther. I found that this book did have facts that were new to my kids, not found in other books.
- Castle – With its stunning pen and ink illustrations, this book explores medieval live through the construction of a fictional castle and its surrounding village. The mix of storytelling and architecture is unique and engaging.
- Cathedral – Muck like Castle, this work from David Macaulay gives us a glimpse into the role religion played in the Middle Ages though the construction of a beautiful Cathedral.
- The Duke and the Peasant – With beautiful paintings, this book looks at the changes that happen in a castle over the course of year. This would be great for art study or as a different way to explore the seasons.
- Medieval World – This larger format book takes medieval selections from the Usborne History Encyclopedia. It includes medieval times from around the world. While my kids were mostly interested in European Middle Ages, including other parts of the world was a great way to pique their curiosity. The internet quicklinks were also a big hit.
- DK Eyewitness Knight – I considered doing a more narrow unit on knights and using this as our spine. In the end I decided to expand things a bit, but this is a great source for all things medieval knights.
- Picture That: Knights and Castles – This is a MUST HAVE for any family that enjoys adding picture and artist study to their homeschool line up.
- World Almanac Library of the Middle Ages – This for sure has more of a textbook/traditional encyclopedia feel, but deeply covers all sorts of middle ages topics. I would recommend for middle school and up unless you have a younger child who’s truly obsessed with all things Medieval.
- Knights (Usborne Discovery) – This one can be hard to get ahold of, but if you can, I highly recommend it. It’s my favorite Knight encyclopedia by far. My kids really enjoyed it as well and were sad when we had to take it back to the library.
- Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor – This highly visual volume includes armor as well as weapons all throughout history. Of course the section from the Middle Ages is quite extensive and VERY interesting.
- Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor (updated?) – We didn’t actually use this exact book, but it appears to be an updated version of the one we checked out from our library. It’s much more easily accessible, so I thought I would include both.
- Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages – Part of a series called “Medieval World,” these books dive into various aspects of life in the middle ages.
Early Chapter Books
- Marguerite Makes a Book – With computers and print-on-demand services, we live in a world where anyone can make a book. Books weren’t always so easy to make – especially with the beautiful illustrations of the middle ages. Follow along as Marguerite works to help her father create a very important book in this stunning illustrated chapter book.
- The Kingdom of Wrenly – To be honest, I know very little about this series, but it came up a lot in my searches and I know it’s popular among early chapter book readers, so I thought I would include it for you to check out.
- The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Illustrated Classics) – We haven’t read this book in particular, but this series is a big hit in our house, so I included it in this list.
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (Usborne Graphic Novels) – The classic tale of Robin Hood in graphic novel form. My kids love this one.
- Graphic Medieval History (Series) – These graphic novels contain factual text as they explore real stories of the middle ages. Due to the graphic violent content, I recommend these for middle grades and above, but they could e GREAT for reluctant or struggling readers.
- Plagues (Science Comics) – We enjoy adding these books to our unit studies as we are able. This one is perfect at it explores the science behind the plague that took so many lives in the Middle Ages as well as other plagues and viruses throughout history.
- Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess – Written from the perspective of a young boy who is sent to his uncle’s castle for a year to serve as a page, this is a fun look at everyday life in a castle.
- Robin Hood: The Classic Adventure Tale– There are so many versions of this classic take for younger readers. This one was complete with absolutely stunning illustrations (though one is violently graphic). Not only were the illustrations captivating, but I loved the richness of language used to retell this classic adventure.
- The Door in the Wall – This family favorite about a boy in the middle ages who loses the use of his legs, but becomes a hero despite his struggles is one we love so much we have it in audio and print formats. The kids have read/listened to it many times.
- Adam of the Road – We planned to listen to the audio version of this on a road trip that ended up getting canceled, so I can’t say a lot about this book. It’s about a boy who traveled with his father as a wondering minstrel. When his dog is stolen and his father disappears, Adam goes on a search to find the ones he loves.
- Roland Wright: (Future Knight, Brand-New Page, At the Joust) – Filled with humor, wit, and a fun pet mouse, this trilogy is a favorite in our house. We’ve read them aloud several times and we never get tired of the antics of Roland as he rises from being a mere peasant working in his father’s armor making business to having the opportunity to become a page in a castle.
- The Apple and the Arrow: The Legend of William Tell – I’m sure you’ve heart of William Tell, but do you know the story behind the name? Find out in this riveting read.
- Life as a Knight (You Choose) – We have a lot of fun with these as read alouds. We enjoyed the knight one for this unit study but other that would work well with this unit include the Vikings and Middle Ages books.
- Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker) – Loaded with great information about the Middle Ages, this is a perfect companion to the Magic Tree House book. It also works great as a stand alone book, which is how we used it.
- Crispin and the Cross of Lead– Crispin doesn’t know much about who he is. He becomes even more confused as he finds himself fleeing for his life upon his mother’s death. He has always been a nobody, but if that’s the case, why is wanted so badly and in so much danger? The Middle Ages were a rough time. Because of some of the the depictions in the book, I recommend this for kids ages 10 and up.
- The Mice of the Round Table – This book didn’t end up being a good fit for our family, so I didn’t read the whole thing, but of what I did read the writing was fantastic and the storyline quite clever. While it isn’t a good fit for us, I included it as this interesting spin on the King Author tales and legends may be great for your family.
- Days of Knights and Damsels – Filled with crafts, costumes, recipes, and information, this is a classic activity book that encompasses many facets of the Middle Ages.
- Build It!: Medieval World – If you have a LEGO lover, these super easy builds might be all your child needs to enter a world of Medieval LEGO building bliss.
- Break the Siege – If mini catapults and table top wars sounds like your idea of a good time, this is the right book for your kiddos!
Have you read any of these books? What are your favorites? Are there any great books I forgot to add? Leave a comment below so none of us miss any great resources!
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