Oh bugger, where do I find Viking stories for KS2?!
So over here in the UK after much online debate and anger and general unrest, the new National Curriculum has kicked off this week. Whoopeedoodles, now let’s get on with it said all the teachers. However, a new curriculum means new teaching plans, new resources, new ideas and I’ve already had a couple of my locals finding me to ask for recommendations.
One particular section of the new NatCurr that’s causing a bit of a kerfuffle is the Viking and Anglo-Saxon periods that kids in KS2 can now expect to cover at some point. So, without furthur ado, here’s a little mini list of the recommendations I’ve been giving my locals 🙂
Sigrun’s Secret by Marie-Louise Jensen – I’m rather fond of Jensen as a writer and although this book has a bit of a teen feel to it from the cover, Year 6’s should be ok with it. Sigrun is a fantastic character and the trial/debate scene at the end could easily be extended outside of History lessons. A good way to look at Viking life in England too, as well as their more seafaring and warlike ways. It also gives a good account of life as a Viking woman too. There is a bit of a love interest yes, but from what I remember this doesn’t go much beyond kissing and a wee bit of fancying.
How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell – Not exactly hard to recommend this, since everyone except me it seems has seen the HTTYD films by now. Very silly, great for a laugh (I still crack a smirk whenever I think about that rulebook), and best of all, it’s part of a series! Perhaps best for Years 3 and 4 as not terribly challenging for upper KS2, this books are not terribly factual butthey are fantastic for getting the more reluctant kids interested in the subject – nothing like a dragon for sparking (sorry) interest.
There’s a Viking in my Bed by Jeremy Strong – One for struggling readers, probably more Year 3 than any of the rest of KS2, Jeremy Strong is a stalwart of Kids books and I remember his books from when I was still physically a kid myself (I don’t think mentally really counts, does it?). Siggy gets into all sorts of mischief after he falls off his boat and washes up in an innocent seaside town and although not exactly rolling in Viking facts, like HTTYD he will charm reluctant Historians.
My Story: Viking Blood by Andrew Donkin – Ah, where would we be without My Story? This one unsurprisingly focuses very much on the Viking warrior life but is carefully written to be as factually accurate as possible. Any History project can benefit from a sneaky peek at the My Story series to see if there’s a corresponding book.
Beowulf: Dragonslayer retold by Rosemary Sutcliff – You can’t do Anglo Saxons without Beowulf! Although the adult version can get a bit gritty (or a bit dry, depending on who you’re talking to), Sutcliff more than knows what she’s doing and you can’t really beat a bit of sea-haggery, fire-worm and man-wolf killing to engage readers. Plus, it gives you the chance to talk about oral storytelling and the idea that some stories did not exist on paper until many centuries after they were first told. Which I find rather cool….
The Saga of Erik the Viking retold by Terry Jones – a seafaring story yet again of a Viking warrior, only Erik is hoping to find the land where the sun goes to sleep at night. Engagingly written and yes, it is that Terry Jones.
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table retold by Roger Lancelyn Green – Yes yes yes, the legend of Arthur dates back to either medieval times or the Victorian era depending on which author’s interpretation you’re reading, but one, I’m nowhere near fussed being that particular and two, the point is that King Arthur himself is supposed to be Anglo-Saxon and in my opinion if you’re going to get your kids to read myths and legends, Roger Lancelyn Green’s retellings are some of the best for upper primary school kids.
Myths of the Norsemen retold by Roger Lancelyn Green – As above, you can’t really beat Mr Green for his mythical retellings for upper primary school kids and I think if you tackle the Vikings you have to include the myths in the lesson plans too. I also love the cover – always had a soft spot for Thor…
The Sleeping Army series by Francesca Simon – From the lady who brought you the phenomenally popular Horrid Henry series comes these new series set in a modern Britain with a strong belief still in the old Norse ways. Aimed at perhaps the younger half of KS2, it would be stupendously easy to tie at the very least the first book in this series in with a trip to the British Museum and the Lewes Chessmen. I happen to know that copies of the Chessmen are readily availble from the Museum shop to use as props for those who can’t get their classes down to London Town.
Do you know of any I’ve missed out? Please let me know!