World History Reading List,
Middle Ages

Kids learning about the Middle Ages love to read good books on knights, castles, & cathedrals.

If you can’t visit a real castle, the next best thing is to visit by way of a book. And for most Americans, this would apply to cathedrals as well. Be sure to read Cathedral: Story of Its Construction to truly appreciate some of the more amazing medieval architecture!

The whole realm of feudalism, kings, and knights holds huge appeal when teaching this time period in history. There are lots of good factual books on knights below, but be sure not to miss the historical fiction Men of Iron.

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A Year in a Castle (Time Goes By) by Rachel Coombs. Millbrook Press, 2009. E-UE
What a fun book! It starts with “Moving In,” and then progresses through every month of the year, highlighting the major events of that month in the same castle. The illustrations are wonderful, the content is great, and there are little extras besides. Every page gives you things to find, and the back holds a Glossary, a list of Books & Website, and activity ideas. This book deserves some attention!

Castle : Stephen Biesty’s Cross-Sections by Richard Platt, illus. Stephen Biesty. Dorling Kindersley, 1994. UE+
This is no ordinary book on castles! Each page includes a detailed cross section of the castles, illustrating a particular aspect of life within. Topics include construction, warfare, trades, lords, food, & entertainment.

Eyewitness: Castle (Eyewitness Books)

Castle by David Macaulay. Houghton Mifflin. UE+
Caldecott Medal. Describes how a castle typical of the late 1200’s was constructed, including its design, features, and purposes. Lots of illustrations. A Video,David Macaulay’s World of Ancient Engineering: Castle, based on this book is also available.

Castles (A First Discovery Book) by G. Jeunesse, C. Delafosse, C. & D. Millet. Scholastic, 1990. K-E
Illustrates castles, life inside them, and knights with brightly colored, transparent pages to complement every two-page spread. Simple, yet inspiring!

Knights And Castles (Magic Tree House Research Guide) by Will Osborne & Mary Pope Osbourne. E-UE +
The Osbourne’s research guides provide all the facts in a fun way, with lots of black-and-white illustrations.

A Medieval Castle (Inside Story) by Fiona Macdonald, illus. Mark Bergin. UE+

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Medieval Castle by Joanna Cole, illus. Bruce Degen. Scholastic, 2003. E-UE
The same Ms. Frizzle that has entertained kids with the science series “Magic Schoolbus” takes on history! This is a fun introduction to castles and related medieval life.

The Truth About Castles by Gillian Clements.

What Were Castles For? (Usborne Starting Point History) by Phil Roxbee Cox. Usborne, 1994. K-UE
Entertaining & Colorful!


Cathedral Story of Its Construction by David Macaulay. Houghton Mifflin, 1977. UE+
Caldecott Medal. Describes the construction of a cathedral typical of the late 1200’s. Lots of illustrations. A Video based on this book is also available: David Macaulay’s World of Ancient Engineering: Cathedral. After 25 years, the author published Building the Book Cathedral, which further embellishes his original book.

A Medieval Cathedral by Fiona Macdonald, illus. John James. Peter Bedrick Books, 1991. UE+
The crafting & artistry of the cathedral grabs our attention as the pages reveal the immense effort poured into the construction. Also covers the building’s uses & the common religious practices of the time.


Coat of Arms by Catherine Daly-Weir, illus. Jeff Crosby. Grossett & Dunlap, 2000. E-UE
The beauty of this book is that it not only has great information and lots of colorful illlustrations, but it also has some hands-on project potential! The last section of the book gives a shield shape to copy or trace so you can take everything you just learned about Coats of Arms and create your own. This last section not only gives you helpful hints, but also comes with a stencil in a back cover pocket with shapes to trace. And all this in addition to learning about the history of the Coats of Arms, the job of the herald, the life of the knight, and the design elements of their arms. Two thumbs up for this one!

DK Readers: Days of the Knights — A Tale of Castles and Battles (Level 4: Proficient Readers) by Christopher Maynard. DK Children, 1998. E-UE

Knights (All Aboard Reading) by Catherine Daly-Weir, ills. Jeff Crosby. K-E
Great choice for the beginning reader!

Knights And Castles (Magic Tree House Research Guide) by Will Osborne & Mary Pope Osbourne. E-UE +
The Osbourne’s research guides provide all the facts in a fun way, with lots of black-and-white illustrations.

The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor by Patrick O’Brien. Charlesbridge Pub., 1998. E-UE
Follows Sir James from age 7 to adulthood, revealing the Medieval/knighthood way of life, from manners to jousts and battles. Richly illustrated.

Men of Iron by Howard Pyle. Harper & Row, 1891, 1919. UE+
An adventure story of a boy’s journey from squire to knight, describing the events and ceremony like no other. We meet King Henry IV, and also experience a joust and a life-or-death combat with weaponry, armor, high stakes, and the code of chivalry. Its Middle English gives it authenticity. Illustrated.

Sir Dana: A Knight As Told by His Trusty Armor by Dana Fradon.

A Tournament of Knights by Lasker.

The World of the Medieval Knight by Christopher Gravett.

Back to the main Medieval Reading List

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