World History Reading List
Middle Ages, c. 400’s – 600’s

King Arthur books dominate this section of the Medieval reading list. Books are listed in chronological order, and include titles on the fascinating Attila the Hun, followed by lots of choices on King Arthur & others, including Sir Gawain & St. George.

From there we move to China, and then the beginnings of Islam in the Middle East.

Lastly, Europe brings the Saxon Invasion of Britain and the rather gruesome, but classical, tale of Beowulf.

World History Crafts

400’s: Attila the Hun

The White Stag by Kate Seredy. The Viking Press, 1937, 1965. UE+
Newbery Medal. A dramatization of old Hun-Magyar legends of pagan gods, moonmaidens, and the Red Eagle, where the people are supernaturally led from Asia westward and are given their powerful leader, Attila.

500’s: King Arthur and other (semi-) legends

Knights of the Round Table Buy From

The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier, illus N. C. Wyeth. *JH+
This version of the story gives lots of detail about knights. *Old English vocabulary can be challenging.

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (Puffin Classics) by Roger Lancelyn Green. UE+

King Arthur : Tales from the Round Table ed. Andrew Lang, illus. H. J. Ford. JH+

Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illus. Trina Schart Hyman. Little, Brown & Co., 1984. E-UE
Caldecott Medal of Honor. Based on Spenser’s “Faerie Queen,” a heroic knight rescues a damsel in distress from a ferocious dragon.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo by J.R.R. Tolkien. HS
Translation of the legend that was first written down c.1400.

The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Elanore M. Jewett. UE+
Newbery Honor. A young boy in England (in 1171) looks for artifacts of King Arthur.

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table retold by Emma Gelders Sterne & Barbara Lindsay, illus. Gustaf Tenggren. UE-JH
Full-color illustrations, many of which are full-page, highlight this book. The tales are told in short chapters, beginning with the Sword in the Stone, and ending with Lancelot and Guinevere (whose relationship, incidentally, was tactfully told). Tales in between include those of knights that are not commonly known, and lots of knightly exploits and adventures.

The Legend of King Arthur: A Young Reader’s Edition of the Classic Story by Howard Pyle by David Borgenicht, illus. Luigi Galente, Simone Boni, Francesca D’Ottavi. E

The Once and Future King by T.H. White. JH-HS
See The Sword in the Stone by the same author, below.

The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. JH-HS
Classic Arthurian tales. The rest of the 4-book series includes: The Story of Sir Launcelot and His Companions, The Story of the Champions of the Round Table, and The Story of the Grail and the Passing of Arthur. Advanced UE

The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White. JH-HS
King Arthur, the boy; the first book in a four-part series based on Le Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. The other books, in order, are: The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill Made Knight, and The Candle in the Wind, which can be hard to find. All 4 books are combined in The Once and Future King, listed above.

The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla. E-UE+
A young boy’s adventures set in the exciting world of King Arthur and his knights.

Tales of King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone by Hudson Talbott. Morrow Junior Books, 1996. E-UE
With large, full-color illustrations, the stories of King Arthur captivate the reader’s attention. Also in this series are Tales of King Arthur: King Arthur and the Round Table and Tales of King Arthur: Excalibur.

500’s: China

Lady of Ch’iao Kuo: Warrior of the South, Southern China, A.D. 531 (The Royal Diaries) by Laurence Yep. Scholastic, 2001. E-UE
Fictionalized diary of a real Chinese princess in 531 AD.

600’s: Islam

What Do We Know About Islam? (What Do We Know About Religions?) By Sharukh Husain. 1995. UE+
Explains what Islam is, where it originated, and how it has influenced world culture.

A 16th Century Mosque (Inside Story) by Fiona MacDonald, illus. Mark Bergin. Peter Bedrick Books, 1994. UE+
This book spans the centuries. Covers Mohammed, the spread of Islam, the Muslim civilization, and also the Ottoman Empire and its key rulers before detailing the mosque.

600’s: Saxon Invasion of Britain

The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff. JH+
Based on “The Gododdin,” an early British poem, dramatizing a battle against the invading Saxons in the A.D. 600’s.

700’s: Beowulf, c. A.D. 725-1000

Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo, illus. Michael Foreman. UE-JH
Colorful and well-illustrated, this book continues where most editions for this age leave off. It includes all 3 parts of the Boewulf saga: Grendel’s defeat in Part I, the battle with Grendel’s mother in Part II, and the dragon and the death of Beowulf in Part III. This version would be my choice for the older (& Jr. High) child because it’s easy to read, easy to understand, and holds your interest with illustrations on every page.

Beowulf : A Verse Translation, translated by Frederick Rebsamen.

Beowulf : A New Telling by Rober Nye. JH+
Written as a short story in modern English. The author identifies his work as an interpretation, rather than a translation. Recommended reading before tackling a translation. Caution: The monsters and their exploits are gruesome.

Beowulf the Warrior by Ian Serraillier. UE+

Beowulf: Dragon Slayer by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Favorite Medieval Tales (see Middle Ages: General Topics, Medieval Life)

The Hero Beowulf by Eric A. Kimmel, illus Leonard Everett Fisher. E*-UE
Finally! The retelling of Beowulf for children with full-page illustrations accompanying the story of Beowulf’s victory over Grendel.
*Caution: If your child is easily upset or frightened, Beowulf is still probably not a good reading choice! Although this version and its illustrations are tactful, the story still includes a horrible monster, as well as the monster’s arm being ripped off during the battle with our hero.

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