Best children's books about the Anglo Saxons
Travel back in time to the dawn of England and find out more about the Anglo Saxons, their stories and their lives. Teacher and literacy expert Ashley Booth shares his pick of the best historical fiction set in the time of King Alfred, including different retellings of the epic Anglo Saxon poem Beowulf.
Anglo-Saxon Boy by Tony Bradman(£5.99, Walker Books)
Magnus, son of Harold Godwinson, finds himself embroiled in a family feud that leads to the Battle of Hastings. This is a gripping and descriptive book for slightly older children, a real page turner that will have kids hooked from the start.
King Arthur and the Knights Of The Round Table by Marcia Williams(£7.99, Walker Books)
Aided by the magician Merlin, Arthur pulls the sword from the stone in this comic strip re-telling of the classic Arthurian tales. A great introduction to learning more about the Anglo-Saxon times.
Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo(£6.99, Walker Books)
The oldest surviving epic in British literature, originally written in Old English, as retold by renowned children's author Michael Morpurgo. The story follows Beowulf’s epic quest to destroy Grendel, with many other sub plots thrown in. Like the epic it retells, it is epic in its description and its ability to hook children in.
Beowulf by Rob Lloyd Jones(£5.99, Usborne)
The same epic tale but retold in a totally different way (and for younger readers in this early-reader version), Lloyd Jones will have reluctant readers hooked as this book jostles them through historically accurate, yet totally tantalising scenes of action and adventure. A must-have for any Anglo-Saxon library.
Shield Maiden by Richard Denning(£6.99, Mercia Books)
Anna is a 12-year-old who lives in a Saxon village. One day she finds a beautiful, golden horn but her life is turned upside down when a plethora of people, including a very ugly dwarf, suddenly want to capture her. A real page-turner, Denning’s book will keep KS2 reading for hours to find out what happens next.
Freedom For Bron: The Boy Who Saved A Kingdom by NS Blackman(£6.99, Dinosaur Books)
Blackman’s book focuses on a young Saxon slave whose only reward for working tirelessly all day is jeers and slaps from the other Saxon children in the village. But when a famous Saxon warlord arrives in his village he gets the chance to prove himself for the first time in his life. A tour de force of accurate history and epic adventure scenes, this is a really great book for Year 5 and 6 children.
Saxon Tales by Terry Deary(£4.99, A&C Black)
Horrible Histories author puts his unique spin on classic Saxon tales in four volumes: The King Who Threw Away His Throne, The Wich Who Faced the Fire, The Lord Who Lost his Head and The Shepherd Who Ate his Sheep. Raiders, princesses, cunning men, bandits and kings are the protagonists of exciting adventures set in the Anglo Saxon world.
Better Than Gold by Theresa Tomlinson(£5.99, Bloomsbury)
The young prince of Bernicia, Egfrid, is captured by Penda, the King of Mercia, during a raid; he is told he will be brought up in exile, as a hostage and an adopted son, in the court of his father's worst enemy. Anglo Saxon warriors' lives and battles are brought to life vividly in this engrossing story of loyalty and courage.
Shield Maiden by Stuart Hill(£5.99, Featherstone)
"No enemy may find this place; we hide it in mist and shadow..." When the king of Wessex's great hall is destroyed by the Vikings, Alfred, the king, must flee with his family, including his daughter Aethelflaed, and hide in the marshes to escape the enermy. Aethelflaed dreams of becoming a shield maiden, but will she be allowed to fight alongside her brother Edward to help defend her kingdom?