The Middle Ages is one of the most exciting time periods for homeschool history! When I teach my children any historic time period, I believe in the power of historical fiction for bringing it to life. I’m going to share a list of the best medieval books for kids that will probably provide more books than you will have time to read, but then, who knows? This list will work for any family, using any curriculum, on any schedule. I’ve included easy readers and full, unabridged historical novels (as well as a few non-fiction illustrated books).
[Scroll to the bottom for a free printable PDF of this list]
Get ready to dive in deep to medieval knights, princesses, nobility, dragons, peasants, black death, the crusades, samurai warriors, and all that goes with the medieval times using short stories, full-length novels, and beautiful illustrations.
The Medieval books in this list cover roughly the period 500-1500 A.D. with historical fiction, picture books, easy readers, full novels, and interactive books (like drawing, coloring, puzzles, and even models to build). I have been collecting these books for many years, and typically purchase them used online or at used book sales. They are so fun to have, and are worth a place in your home library for your children and grandchildren to enjoy.
We use Mystery of History as our homeschool curriculum, and have integrated most of the books in this list for my children over the years. There’s something for everyone here: voracious readers, visual learners, beginning readers, little ones fascinated with picture books, and hands-on activities.
The early middle ages period is also referred to as the Dark Ages, the dawn of medieval Europe just after the fall of the Roman Empire in 476.
How we use these books
First, let me stress that you don’t have to buy each book on this list! Peruse it and pick out what you and your children want. This is a BIG LIST of IDEAS, and I hope you will read it as such. You might want to focus on a certain aspect of the Middle Ages, so find the books that help you do that! Some of these links include a free study guide for those that want to follow rabbit trails. Maybe your kids thrive on the detailed coloring books, and maybe they won’t touch them with a ten foot pole. You might have kids who prefer illustrated non-fiction instead of historical novels. That’s okay! Every kid is unique, and your homeschool will be unique, too.
I have five children (two are grown now), and often include a niece or nephew in my homeschool days, so there’s always been a big group of kids using my reading lists. We always have one read-aloud going. For that, I pick something really fun and that I want all of my students to hear. I’ll read for up to an hour a day from this one while the kids do something quiet with their hands (drawing, building, painting nails, etc.). Additionally, I assign a different book to each child, something possibly suited to their age and interest.
For instance, right now I am reading The Great and Terrible Quest aloud to my 11 and 14 year old kids. (The 16 year old already heard it with me the last time we studied medieval history.) The 14-year-old-boy is reading A Samurai’s Tale, and the 11-year-old girl is reading The Door in the Wall. They must read for at least 30 minutes per day from their books.
I’ve been homeschooling for 22 years, so over these years I have acquired quite the homeschool library. I buy books used whenever I happen on them: at library book sales, yard sales, eBay, Thrift Books, etc. I always have a nice selection right in our home! This list will help you shop in a similar manner, but will also help check out or reserve books at your local library.
The following list contains affiliate links.
I will link to Exodus Books as often as possible, because I want to support a small business run by Christians (and they carry almost everything!). There are also links to Amazon, in case I couldn’t find a specific title available on Exodus. Both places sell used copies of many titles, so look into that if you’re building a home library.
The medieval period (or the Middle Ages) spans roughly 500 to 1500 A.D. Obviously, historians will differ somewhat on this timeline. The period between 500-1000 is also called the Dark Ages. Use your history curriculum as your guide. However, if you’re looking for a medieval timeline to match these books against, this one at Medieval Chronicles is helpful.
Some of the books in this list are not going to fall in any particular part of the timeline, because they are simply “medieval” or “Middle Ages.” Others will have a more definite time period. I also have some favorite non-fiction titles and activity books to share.
So let’s get to the list!
- Draw and Write Through History: The Vikings, Middle Ages, and the Renaissance – I have used all of the Draw and Write Through History books from Creation to modern times. They include step-by-step drawings of historical people and places, plus cursive copywork throughout.
- Coloring Books for Boys – Dragons – My boys could not get enough of these illustrations!
- Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure by Cindy Neuschwander — get all of the Sir Cumference books!
- Illuminated Manuscripts (Dover Coloring Book) by Marty Noble – great for quiet artwork while listening to one of the historical novels below!
- Design Your Own Coat of Arms: An Introduction to Heraldry by Rosemary A. Chorzempa – Provides everything you need for a fun hands-on project about heraldry.
- Usborne Solve it Yourself: The Prisoner of Portcullis Castle – try to find this on eBay or Thrift Books, or from an Usborne rep. It’s a fun interactive adventure!
- Medieval Costumes Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney – a fun way to bring medieval fashion to life, especially for girls! Color, cut, and dress-up the paper dolls!
- Make This Model Medieval Castle (Usborne Cut-Out Models) – This is hard to find, but search anyway! I wish Usborne would re-release this because it is a really fun and easy way to learn about castles. Another similar one is Easy to Make Playtime Castle by A. G. Smith: it’s super hard to find in an affordable price range, but you might find it on eBay or somewhere. Keep the title handy!
- Medieval Fashions (Dover Coloring Book) by Tom Tierney – I love this (and all similar coloring books) because of the descriptions under each coloring picture. It’s educational AND fun!
- Castles of the World Coloring Book by A.G. Smith – A really interesting interactive look at the different types of castles built around the world.
- Life in a Medieval Castle and Village Coloring Book by John Green – This one is packed with beautiful illustrations and detailed information.
- Days of the Knights is an easy DK reader that is great for a young boy who can’t get enough of knights, castles, and battles!
- Castles by Usborne Beginners is similar to Days of the Knights; an easy reader for the very young student, with plenty of colorful illustrations.
- The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle – We have the Illustrated Classics version and the Classic starts version of this story. They are both abridged and perfect for young readers!
- The Minstrel in the Tower by Gloria Skurzynski A fun twelfth century adventure for young readers!
- Who in the World Was the Secretive Printer? The Story of Johannes Gutenberg for young readers.
- The Gifts of Wali Dad: A Tale of India and Pakistan Retold by Aaron Shepard – A fun story of humility and generosity.
- Three Samurai Cats – Honestly, I got this book for my cat-obsessed daughter! It’s a cute one that helps the reader understand the world of the Samurai.
- Chanticleer and the Fox: Adaptation by Barbara Cooney is a fun adaptation from Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
- The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola
- Marguerite Makes a Book – Created for young readers, I think this book is also suitable and interesting for older kids. It is all about the medieval book making process, and is perfect when learning about illuminated manuscripts and the spread of the written scriptures!
- A Frog Prince by Alix Berenzy – beautiful artwork!
- Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola
- Canterbury Tales by Barbara Cohen – adapted and illustrated for young children.
- The Time of the Church by Suzanne Richterkessing – Even as a Protestant, I appreciate these simple little books that explain the seasons of the Church (there are more in the series).
- St. George and the Dragon
- How to Unmake a Dragon by Catherine Gruben Smith – Check out their whole site! It’s an amazing resource for Medieval homeschooling.
- Ivanhoe by Sr Walter Scott – This one is a great classic to be read alongside 11th century history. It includes Robin Hood and much talk of Normans, Saxons, King Richard and Prince John after the 1066 invasion of William the Conqueror. The unabridged version would be a great read-aloud or high school novel; there is also an abridged version by Great Illustrated Classics.
- The Samurai’s Tale – There was a lot happening outside medieval Europe, and this book is a great story for that! My boys especially love this one. “To read this book is to immerse oneself completely in 16th century Japan, when powerful warlords struggled for supremacy. It is the riveting tale of a boy, born a noble but made a slave, who must work his way through the servant ranks to achieve his goal: to become a samurai.” (Exodus Books)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle – a classic!
- Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle – another great adventure by Howard Pyle, this time in medieval Germany. So much history woven into this one!
- Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray – an exciting adventure story set in thirteenth-century England.
- The Dragon and the Raven by G. A. Henty – One of my favorites that tell the story of King Alfred the Great of England and the Viking invasion. (I have a free study guide for this book on my website, too.)
- Wulf the Saxon by G. A. Henty – another great book by Henty, this time about the Norman invasion of England. (I have a free study guide on my website for this book.)
- The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
- St. George for England by G.A. Henty – yet another Henty novel!
- The Striped Ships by Eloise McGraw – I love all of her books and this one is no exception. It’s a perfect historical fiction novel for learning about the Norman Conquest of England in 1066!
- The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle – wonderfully written in an old-fashioned English, it really brings the Middle Ages to life! I recommend this one as a read-aloud because there is plenty to discuss, like words we no longer use but that have shaped the English language. I think it’s a must-read so students understand where many parts of our popular culture originate from, like the term “holy grail” and the knights of the round table.
- The Fall of Arthur by J. R. R. Tolkien – If you have Arthur fans or Tolkien fans in your house, you might need this one!
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knights by J.R.R. Tolkien – Tolkien was a master of Anglo Saxon history and languages, so it’s no surprise that he wrote his version of Sir Gawain!
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain is a really fun twist on King Arthur’s story.
- The Lullingstone Secret by Jill Masters
- The Great and Terrible Quest by Margaret Lovett – one of my all-time favorites! It will have you guessing until the end!
- Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett
- The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli – Set in the fourteenth century, the classic story of one boy’s personal heroism when he loses the use of his legs. Easy for young readers; download a free unit study here.
- Beowulf, Dragon Slayer by Rosemary Sutcliff – Highly recommended by others, though we have not read this one. I recommend it because every other Rosemary Sutcliff book we have read is amazing!
- Beowulf by J. R. R. Tolkien – another Tolkien gem for high school readers!
- Arabian nights – A few of these stories are recognizable as Disney movies, but there are so many more, and they are much older than Walt Disney!
- In Freedom’s Cause by G. A. Henty – subtitled a story of Wallace and Bruce. All of Henty’s historical fiction books are excellent! They are great to read aloud, or work well for middle-school and high school students.
- Leif the Lucky by Ingri & Edgar Parin D’aulaire – All of the D’Aulaire books are wonderful, and this is no exception!
- The Travels of Marco Polo – Highly recommended for high school, or to skim through for his rich descriptions of medieval Asia and the Great Khan! I love it when an original source is easy to read, and this one is.
- The Adventures and Discoveries of Marco Polo -We read this version from Landmark Books; see if you can find a copy of it. Excellent easier read for students, as are all of the Landmark Book titles!
- The White Horse King – a wonderful biography of Alfred the Great. Good reading for middle school and high school.
- Fine Print: A Story about Johannes Gutenberg
- Usborne Internet-Linked Medieval World – as above, excellent non-fiction! It’s a chronological look at the major events and people in the Middle Ages, with a timeline, drawings, and actual photos of historic relics. Suitable for anyone who can read. I assign readings all the way through this as they correlate with our history curriculum.
- The Usborne History of Britain: The Middle Ages – this is part of a set on Britain, and as with all Usborne books, it is a perfect mix of illustrations and short chunks of text on Medieval England. Great for young readers, but also older readers with a short attention span.
- King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak by Laurie J. White – It’s so fascinating to learn the origins of the English language. Great guide for parents to teach from or for older kids to read.
- The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil – another awesome trip through the evolution of the English language.
- Royal Panoply: Brief Lives of the English Monarchs by Carolly Erickson – short biographies of the kings and queens of England. I have read this aloud and also assigned it to the older kids to read as we move down the timeline.
- History of Britain & Ireland: The Definitive Visual Guide (DK Books) – This is a basic text in our homeschool! Similar to an Usborne book with lots of illustrations and facts.
- Great Civilizations of the East (Illustrated History Encyclopedia) – Recommended by Mystery of History, this is a good one similar to the one above.
- Step Into Ancient Japan by Fiona Macdonald – This is a non-fiction book packed with bits of information and illustrations. Includes activities you can do with your kids! My son was obsessed with everything about ancient Japan (okay, he still is) and he read this book several times.
- Chivalry: An Ancient Code for Our Time (A study for high school students to adults) by J. Aaron Gruben – I really love this as a character study for boys! And here is one for younger boys.
- Celts: The History and Legacy of One of the Oldest Cultures in Europe by Martin J. Dougherty – slightly before Medieval times but still relevant.
- Celtic Warriors by Tim Newark
- 100 Things You Should Know About Knights and Castles by Jane Walter – This is another “fact” book with tons of illustrations!
- Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages by Marsha Groves – Mostly print with some illustrations, but full of great information.
- Everyday Life in Medieval Times by Marjorie Rowling
- Medieval Clothing and Costumes by Margaret Scott
- Medieval Feasts and Banquets by Tehmina Bhote
- David Macaulay’s books are a fascinating blend of architecture and lifestyle. I cannot imagine a homeschool history without these amazing works. Castle, Cathedral, and Mosque – These are classics and must-haves for every homeschooling book list! With detailed illustrations, Macaulay tells the complete story of construction of these great feats of architecture and the medieval village around them.
- Cross-Sections Castle by Stephen Biesty – If your kid needs lots of illustrations, this is the book you need! Colorful detailed cutaway illustrations of life in a medieval castle bring the middle ages to life! BIG book.
Well, this should get you started. : ) Print out the PDF below to carry this list with you to the library or to a used book sale. And if you like this one, check out my American History book list for children here.