Scott Farrell Comments:
Frequently when I am contacted by a school, library or other educational organization, the teachers and parents want to know what books I can recommend to introduce young readers to the stories of King Arthur, the legends of Camelot, and the history of knights and chivalry in medieval culture.
Unfortunately, today many young readers (many readers of all ages, in fact) have never heard the name “King Arthur” and don’t have any idea that a “round table” has anything to do with something other than a business meeting. This is unfortunate because on the shelves of today’s bookstores there are dozens, if not hundreds of wonderful books that explore the old tales with new vigor and imagination. These are not the images of Knights of the Round Table of generations past (romatic as those might be), but rather stories of heroic adventures based on current research into medieval culture and the lore of Arthurian legend and history. Readers who might be put off by the thought of knightly legends full of “thees” and “thous” will be surprised to see just how contemporary, complex and engaging these tales are in the hands of today’s authors. And readers and teachers alike who may think these books perpetuate stereotypes about the superiority of boys (who have all the adventures, while the girls sit and watch out of the castle windows) will surely be surprised to see that female characters have very active, dynamic roles to play – some books even feature girls as the sword-swinging heroes!
Additionally, there are some great books that take advantage of the wealth of knowledge made available through the best of today’s living history groups and historical interpretation resources. Pictures of real castles, armor and jousting really bring historical studies to life.
Follow this link for a complete listing of books about King Arthur, Camelot and medieval knights at the Chivalry Today On-Line Bookshop. (Books are arranged by age category – scroll down for mid-grade and teen readers.)
All of my live presentations include an age-appropriate reading list for attendees, and these are just some of the more commonly recommended books about knights and King Arthur. If your students are reading, or are interested in reading more about knights, medieval history and Arthurian legend, I encourage you to contact us about coming to your classroom to explore Chivalry Today!
The preceding reading list was compiled with assistance from Alida Allison, professor at the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at the Department of Comparative Literature of San Diego State University, and Chivalry Today thanks her for her advice. Parents, teachers and students who are looking for stories of medieval knights and chivalry, or for tales of honor and heroism from other cultures might want to check out the recommended reading list at the Parents’ Choice website, which features a variety of book reviews, including several written by Prof. Allison.