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Anglo-Saxons KS2 Books

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recommended anglo saxons books for children

Best Children’s Books – Anglo-Saxons Topic

Travel back in time to the invaders and settlers of the Dark Ages and find out more about the intriguing Anglo-Saxon period. From fighting and feasts to riddles and runes, we’ve picked out some of the best children’s books about the Anglo-Saxon topic.

This booklist offers recommended children’s books about the history of the Anglo-Saxons, selected by the experts at BooksForTopics. Readers looking for KS2 Anglo-Saxon books will enjoy entering the gripping world of invaders and settlers in Winter of the Wolves or Anglo-Saxon Boy – both chapter books that are popular choices with history lovers who love action and plenty of gruesome details.

We also recommend shorter stories like The Princess Who Hid in a Tree, which is a picturebook retelling of the Anglo-Saxon legend of Saint Frideswide.

So, if you are looking for recommended Anglo-Saxon children’s books, the BooksForTopics expertly curated reading list is here to help…

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Chapter books about the Anglo-Saxons

Tony Bradman
Chapter book
This exciting story from Tony Bradman is a popular choice in KS2 classrooms and is set just before the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Follow the story of young Magnus and his adventure-packed journey to the Battle of Hastings, as he is forced to contend with vicious family feuds and merciless claims to the throne. Full of excitement, danger and all the gore of the period, this is an action-packed novel brimming with historical details.
Michael Morpurgo
 & Michael Foreman
Chapter book

The Michael Morpurgo version of the Anglo-Saxon classic Beowulf is a popular choice for upper KS2 or for more confident readers. Morpurgo draws on the style of the original text, using rich, alliterative language but mixes it with modern themes as he retells the story of Beowulf’s epic quest to destroy the monstrous Grendel. Morpurgo’s excellent version of Beowulf is also brought to life with engaging illustrations by Michael Foreman.

Ally Sherrick
Chapter book

A gripping historical adventure featuring the Anglo-Saxon hoard that was unearthed at Sutton Hoo during WW2. The story centres on a young Londoner called George, who has been evacuated to the countryside near Sutton Hoo and is intrigued to find out about the Anglo-Saxon treasures discovered nearby. The most interesting of the treasures is a mysterious Anglo-Saxon crown carrying with it an ancient legend. Before long, George finds himself involved in an exhilarating plot to save the crown from falling into the hands of Nazi invaders. This is a gripping read that is recommended for upper KS2 – and is especially useful for helping children to make links between different periods of history.

Terry Deary
Chapter book
From the author of the popular Horrible Histories, this book is part of the 'Saxon Tales' series. The story is about King Vortigern (who may or may not have existed in real life, but many believe that he did) and his servant Mervyn, as they are faced with the threat of invading Saxons and Picts. The text, which is accompanied by fun illustrations, is easily accessible to most pupils in lower KS2) and there are three other Saxon tales in the same series, too.
Tony Bradman
Chapter book

Tony Bradman strikes again with an edge-of-your-seat historical narrative. A great book to read alongside a class topic of the Saxons and perfect for KS2, Winter of the Wolves is a short chapter book that still packs a punch with plenty of historical details and vocabulary. Set at the time of the Anglo-Saxon migration to Britain, the story offers a dramatic insight into the interplay between the Angles, Saxons and Britons in the 6th century. The story moves on quickly and is easy to follow, while still allowing space for discussions about the practices and challenges of the time.


Brian Patten
 & Chris Riddell
Chapter book
One dark night, the music and singing wake a monster from a swamp ... Warrior after warrior comes to slay the monster, but no one can outwit Grendel. Only the great hero Beowulf stands a chance - but even he is not prepared for the horror that lies in wait. A stunning prose retelling of a Beowulf tale from an author-illustrator dream-team. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+
Terry Deary
Chapter book
It's tough being a peasant in Saxon Britain. The taxes are too high, there are bandits everywhere, and rabbit porridge for dinner every night. Even worse, now the local thane, Lord Ethelbert, is plotting to take King Offa's throne, and the villagers are caught in the crossfire.Can clever young Marian keep the peace? More importantly, can she keep her head?Join master storyteller Terry Deary for a trip back in time to Saxon times and an exciting adventure.

Shorter stories about the Anglo-Saxons

Marcia Williams
Graphic Novel
Delve into the fascinating Anglo-Saxon legends of King Arthur and his knights. The tales are retold in a comic book style, with speech bubbles and many humorous details in both the text and illustrations that pupils will love. Encounter stories of King Arthur, Merlin, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, Excalibur and the search for the Grail.
Jackie Holderness
 & Alan Marks
Picturebook
The story of Frideswide, a female saint who helped to found Oxford during Anglo-Saxon times. Frideswide is a fiesty young princess who loves climbing trees. After being kidnapped by King Algar of Mercia, she uses her skills to escape. Frideswide went on to found Oxford's first Saxon church, which became Christ Church Cathedral and she is still the patron saint of both the City and University of Oxford. Her story includes adventure, suspense and a few surprises, captured in this picture book with Alan Marks' stunning artwork.
Rob Lloyd Jones
 & Victor Tavares
Chapter book

Beowulf is the story of monsters, warriors, journeys and battles. The pages of this Usborne version of the Anglo-Saxon classic Beowulf are filled with rich but accessible language and engaging illustrations. This Usborne version is the most accessible version of Beowulf for Years 3 and 4 – or reluctant readers in older years. You can also purchase an accompanying 2-week English planning pack from Ks2history.

Non-Fiction books about the Anglo-Saxons

Jane Bingham
Non-fiction
Men, Women and Children in Anglo-Saxon Times is a handy non-fiction text that allows children to pursue answers to their own questions about everyday life in Anglo-Saxon Times. Topics include what Anglo-Saxon children did at school, what people did for fun and what jobs they did. This is the kind of book that helps young readers to move beyond hard facts and begin to reflect on what life might have felt like for those living in early Medieval times.
Neil Tonge
Non-fiction
An accessible information text designed especially for the National Curriculum, this is a text pitched for teachers and pupils of lower KS2. Taking an investigative approach to history, The History Detective Investigates Anglo Saxons examines key questions and pieces of evidence from the period in order to shine a light on the period that is sometimes known as the Dark Ages.
Izzy Howell
Non-fiction
Which innovative ideas and inventions began with the Anglo-Saxons? Find out how the Anglo-Saxons farmed their land, built their houses, and organized their society. Discover how their brilliant developments in defense, law, language, and storytelling still influence the way we live today.

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Guidance: Recommended Anglo-Saxon Topic Books for Children

What are the best Anglo-Saxon books for primary schools?

Our Anglo-Saxons topic booklist for KS2 features a curated selection of books about the Anglo-Saxon invaders and settlers. The list includes chapter book stories set in Anglo-Saxon times, like Tony Bradman’s gruesomely detailed Anglo-Saxon Boy and Terry Deary’s entertaining tale The King Who Threw Away His Throne, which covers the interplay between the Saxons and the Picts.

Anglo-Saxon picturebooks are slightly more difficult to come by, but we recommend The Princess Who Hid in a Tree for a shorter tale with a strong female lead, or the comic book style King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Classroom teachers looking to share information about daily life in the Anglo-Saxon period should try the non-fiction book Men, Women and Children in Anglo-Saxon Times, which is well suited for KS2.

The BooksforTopics Anglo-Saxon Booklist has everything you need to dig into your history topic! Schools can buy full packs of the books via Peters.

Is the Anglo-Saxon story of Beowulf suitable for KS2?

Beowulf is considered to be among the most important Anglo-Saxon texts and is one of the oldest surviving poems in Old English. Although the author is unknown, the single existing copy can still be seen today in the British Museum. The famous Anglo-Saxon story of Beowulf takes the form of an epic poem, which is a long poem telling a story of heroes and warriors. Beowulf is the name of the hero of the tale, and the poem tells of how he saves the people of the Scandinavian Geat tribe by battling against monsters and dragons – in particular a famous monster called Grendel.

Although the poem was originally written down in Old English, modern translations have been made, including some excellent children’s editions that are very well suited for KS2 Beowulf lessons. Beowulf is an excellent choice of story to read as part of an Anglo-Saxon topic, and much can be learned of Anglo-Saxon culture and literary traditions by studying an age-appropriate version of the tale.

Teachers looking for a KS2 version of Beowulf might like Monster Slayer by Brian Patten and Chris Riddell, which is an excellent prose retelling of the Beowulf tale formatted in an easy-to-read layout that makes it a very suitable choice for guided reading or whole class reading sessions.

For a more challenging Beowulf text for KS2, the Michael Morpurgo chapter book version of Beowulf is a popular choice for Upper KS2 or for more confident readers. Morpurgo draws on the style of the original text, using rich, alliterative language, but mixes it with modern themes as he retells the story of Beowulf’s epic quest to destroy the monstrous Grendel. Morpurgo’s excellent version of Beowulf is also brought to life with engaging illustrations by Michael Foreman.

Teachers looking for a simpler version of the Beowulf text might like to try Rob Lloyd Jones’ Usborne version of Beowulf, which also has accompanying KS2 Beowulf planning available to purchase.

Which are the best Anglo-Saxon stories for KS2 teachers to read aloud?

If your class likes action and excitement, then Anglo-Saxon Boy is a top choice of class novel for KS2. This exciting story from Tony Bradman is set just before the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Follow the story of young Magnus and his adventure-packed journey to the Battle of Hastings, as he is forced to contend with vicious family feuds and merciless claims to the throne. Full of excitement, danger and all the gore of the period, this is an action-packed novel brimming with historical details.

For something that digs deeper into history and is a little more suited to mature readers in Upper KS2, we recommend Ally Sherrick’s The Buried Crown, which is a gripping historical adventure featuring the Anglo-Saxon hoard that was unearthed at Sutton Hoo during WW2. This is a gripping read that is recommended for older children with a little knowledge of both Anglo-Saxon and World War 2 history, and is especially useful for helping children to make links between different periods of history.

For a more light-hearted and entertaining set of Anglo-Saxon KS2 stories, lower KS2 classes will love the Saxon Tales series by Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary. The texts are accompanied by fun illustrations and are easily accessible to most pupils in Year 3 and Year 4. Choose one or read through all four of the Saxon tales in the series: The King Who Threw Away His Throne, The Lord Who Lost His Head, The Witch Who Faced the Fire and The Shepherd Who Ate His Sheep.

Are lesson plans or resources available for any of the recommended KS2 Anglo-Saxon books?

You’ll notice that some of the books we select for our booklists also feature downloadable resources like worksheets or teaching packs that have been provided by our publishing partners. Teachers looking for Anglo-Saxon KS2 planning could try the guided reading notes that come with The Buried Crown, offering chapter-by-chapter discussion questions, writing opportunities and cross-curricular ideas for KS2 teachers.

For Year 3 or Year 4 English planning, we’d recommend the lesson plans produced by KS2History to accompany Beowulf, which forms a 2-week literacy unit for lower KS2. A complete Anglo-Saxons KS2 history unit is also available from the same website.

How are the books for this BooksForTopics reading list selected?

Each of our history topic booklists contains a carefully curated selection of books to support the teaching of the primary curriculum. Curriculum relevance is at the heart of our curation process – alongside quality and classroom suitability – and our thorough analysis of the history requirements for KS1 and KS2 helps us to select the most relevant books for schools teaching each of the topics.

In the case of the Anglo-Saxons topic, the National Curriculum for Key Stage 2 states that pupils should be taught about ‘Britain’s settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots’ as well as ‘the Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the Kingdom of England to the time of Edward the Confessor’. Our Anglo-Saxons booklist includes children’s fiction and non-fiction texts that explore themes of invasions, raids, settlements and kingdoms as well as stories that relate specifically to daily life in Saxon times. The books cover topics about the Anglo-Saxon invaders and settlers, the legacy of kings like Alfred the Great and Athelstan, crime and punishment in the Dark Ages, epic poems like Beowulf and the battle for land between different tribes.

Our review panel of teachers and education experts provides information about which books support the curriculum effectively, as well as writing detailed reviews for some of the books that we feature too. In addition to our Review Panel feedback and curriculum analysis, we work with a team of booksellers to make sure that the books on our lists are readily available from publishers in order to supply them to schools and classrooms. Schools can buy full packs of most of our topic booklists directly from Peters.

Which other KS2 history topic booklists are available?

Our booklists span the range of the KS2 history curriculum as a selection of wider thematic booklists that offer further depth and historical interest.

If you are looking for children’s books that match a particular historical period, travel back in time with our handpicked selection of recommended children’s books about history. From books for children about the Stone Age and Maya topic books to children’s books about Roman Britain and World War 2 children’s novels, we’ve got a mountain of quality-checked book recommendations to support your topic.

For children learning about ancient civilizations from around the world, try our Ancient Egyptians topic booklist and books about the Ancient Greeks. The early to middle ages are well covered in our booklists about Viking invaders and settlers and Tudor books for children, whereas our Victorian topic book recommendations and WW2 booklists bring readers up to speed with more modern history units.

Some of our history booklists are more thematic and span larger periods, such as our list of Black British History children’s books or the Crime and Punishment KS2 booklist.

Be sure to check out our full range of topic booklists if you are looking for children’s books themed around a particular history topic. Here are a few popular favourites you might also like:

Where can I purchase the books on the BooksForTopics Anglo-Saxons booklist?

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