Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Do Read Beowulf to Your Children

We just finished reading Beowulf the Warrior by Ian Serraillier for our Church History Year.  The original poem Beowulf was written in Old English about the 8th century.  The setting is Denmark and Geatland (Sweden) in the 6th century.  It coincides nicely with our introduction of Christianity to the Anglo-Saxon people, who were pagan.  Beowulf was the most valiant warrior king who ever lived. In his youth, he battled and defeated the wicked monster Grendel and his mother, and later he challenged a fire-breathing, terrorizing dragon.  

Since Beowulf's rediscovery in the 1800s, it has been retold and published in great versions for children.  Every kid should read or hear the story of Beowulf.  This is not the first time I have read this Serraillier version to my kids, but they still love this heroic adventure story every time.  The one thing I would suggest, if you do not know the story and want to read it aloud to your kids, is to first read it yourself to become familiar with the language and the plot.

After reading it this time, my kids put together posters of their favorite parts.

Wiglaf aids Beowulf fighting the dragon, by my 10-year old

Beowulf takes off Grendel's arm, by my 8-year old

Beowulf the hero destroys Grendel's mother, by my 7-year old
Following are other great versions for children, many of which are in modern English:  

The Hero Beowulf - Eric Kimmel

Beowulf - Gareth Hinds

Beowulf - Michael Morpurgo

Favorite Medieval Tales - Mary Pope Osborne

Beowulf A Hero's Tale Retold - James Rumford

Beowulf - Welwyn Katz


Sharon Henning said...

It looks as though there are some great illustrated versions. I love illustrated versions of folk lore and myth not because they're easier to read (for me or children) but the art is usually quite wonderful. And I do think it may be easier for children to follow along and can put quality art into their imaginations. It also looks like your children have artistic imaginations already.

Ruth said...

Hi, Sharon,
Yes, some of these are favorites, especially for their illustrations. Speaking of illustrations, when choosing picture books w/ my kids, I always open the book and peek inside at the illustrations first. : ) While it is preferred that they use their imaginations first when listening to a story, sometimes it is just as fun to enjoy a good illustrator.