Like with robots, children’s picture books about knights are few and far between. I’m not sure why. Have superheroes in capes replaced them? Do castles and dragons no longer captivate children’s imaginations? I’d say no, at least from my experience with my son from ages four to six, because he loves knights.
Kids’ books about knights also suffer from the same illness as children’s books in general: lack of diversity. With the very small number of children’s books that feature people of color or other diversity, there’s not much space left for books with diverse characters with knights, pirates, dinosaurs, dragons, fairies, magic, firefighting, princesses, and superheroes. So far I have not found any knight books featuring people of color! Not even books I didn’t like. I realize the traditional knights, castles, and dragons come from a European historical background, but I still wish there was more going on in this topic. Especially since even medieval Europe wasn’t all white, see art history site medievalpoc for inspiration!
With that caveat, here are my son’s favorite books about knights that I enjoyed as much as he did. Enjoy, and please leave any suggestions in the comments, especially for diversifying our reading list!
Knight Night by Owen Davey. I thought five year old Boy Detective would find this book too simple, but he was completely engrossed by the transformation of familiar daytime scenes and objects into the rich imaginary world of knights and castles. This is a beautifully illustrated book and perfect for bedtime.
Elephant Joe, Brave Knight! by David Wojtowycz. If you don’t think this is funny, you’re going to think it’s really dumb. Elephant Joe and Zebra Pete set off to rescue a damsel in distress from the Dark Knight. But the damsel in distress is not who she appears to be, and there’s this frog who keeps commenting from the sidelines… you know what? It takes like five minutes to read. Just check it out from the library and let me know what you think. :)
Cornelia Funke’s The Princess Knight, with illustrations by Kerstin Meyer. Violet is incensed when her father offers her hand in marriage as the prize for a jousting tournament. Her youngest brother offers to win the tournament to save her, but she says “Thank you, but I think I’d better see to it myself.” Her dad may end up regretting all that swordplay, jousting, and horsemanship training she’s had. The art in this one uses interesting multi-level page layouts that remind me of something, maybe medieval tapestries? (People who know anything about art, please feel free to correct me here.) It’s lovely, focused, and confident. One of our fave picture books about both princesses and knights.
The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie dePaola. I’m not a big dePaola fan in general, it’s just not my style. This book, though, overcame that with its humorous premise and fun details. A knight who isn’t really into fighting, a dragon who has nothing against knights – what happens when the two meet? A friendly little tale that celebrates thinking outside the box and finding your true calling.
The Knight Who Took All Day by James Mayhew. Funny sendup of a pompous knight and the squire who serves him. At five years old, Boy Detective had a very good grasp on who the real heroes of the story were. And all the people (who behaved well) lived happily ever after.
And that’s the list! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing on social media or with friends!