Virginia Kahl’s Picture Books
Many of this author/illustrator’s stories feature “A long time ago there lived over the waters a Duchess, a Duke and their family of daughters.” Though they have 13 daughters, don’t neglect reading these to your boys too. Not only will they love the medieval knights, castles and feudal life, they will enjoy the rhyme and meter as each story is written in poetry. Five in a Row, Volume 3 calls for The Duchess Bakes a Cake, but don’t miss The Baron’s Booty, The Perfect Pancake, The Habits of Rabbits, Plum Pudding for Christmas and more.
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
This could have been a pick for books dealing with adversity as well. Author/illustrator de Angeli’s warm and inspiring tale centers on a young boy, crippled by the plague, who learns that there is always a door in the wall, no matter how insurmountable it may seem. Implicitly teaching an invaluable character lesson that one’s hardship and suffering may be the advantage needed to scale the wall that God has placed before us.
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
A story for middle-elementary readers, Otto is the son of a German Robber Baron caught up in a terrible feud with another family. Though he suffers greatly, Otto finds solace and comfort and doesn’t lose faith that love is more powerful than hate. An exciting tale not to be missed.
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
Set in Poland in the 1400s, a refugee to the city of Krakow is caught up in a mysterious adventure involving some alchemists, a famous gem, and the legend of the trumpeted Heynal. Based on historical fact, this early Newbery winner seamlessly weaves fact and fiction together in a captivating story. For middle-elementary readers on up.
The Black Fox of Lorne by Marguerite de Angeli
Longer than many of de Angeli’s more popular books, this should be on your list of must-reads while studying the Middle Ages. An exciting tale of twin Viking boys, using their shared identity to save the day, this book also gives a unique perspective on “the terrible Norsemen” landing along the coast of England. Invaluable insight behind the reason many Vikings left their homeland in search of a new place to settle. For upper-elementary readers.
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle
Though we’ve featured this book before, I can’t leave this tale of a young boy training for knighthood off of this list. Set during the reign of King Henry IV of England, this is an adventurous tale of a boy on a quest to redeem his family. For upper-elementary readers.
The Prince and the Page by Charlotte Yonge
By the author of The Little Duke this is the story of a young son of Montfort who rose against the king in the Barons’ War. Taken to serve as a page to the king’s son, Edward (soon to be known as Longshanks), our hero soon learns to respect his Prince as he accompanies him on a Crusade. For upper-elementary readers.
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Set during the Hundred Years’ War between England, France, and Spain, this classic by the author of Sherlock Holmes is sure to be a hit with middle school readers on up. A boy joins the service of a noble Knight in his band of archers. Authentic details of daily life and customs of the Middle Ages permeate this exciting tale.
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
A classic tale of England after the Norman Conquest. This book offers its reader the unique perspective of feeling what it must have been like to be a Saxon in the days of Norman rule–holding on to ancient customs of your people, seen as “savage” by the “cultured” foreign rulers of your land. Ivanhoe is a bold and noble knight fighting for his land and lady, at odds with both the Norman rulers and his family. Though a ten-year old boy first recommended this book to me, I’d say it would appeal more to Middle- or High- School readers.