Books for Norse History

When we dive into a history topic we pull in SO many books. We always, always start with the mythology. I love that we’re still in periods of history with a lot of mythology and I’m not quite sure what we’ll do when that stops, It is by far our favourite part. In addition to good mythology books, yes, the DK photo fact books are essential, but I find that we get a far better sense of the period and learn about key events better through historical fiction about the period. We always spend time talking about which parts of the historical fiction books are accurate/close to the mythology and which parts are made up.

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Here are the books we’ve loved during our Norse study:

We loved D’Aulaires Greek Mythology, and their Norse mythology book doesn’t disappoint either. I do with a couple of the creatures who live on Yggdrasil had been named rather than just described, but the stories flow so well and there is just so much that’s great about this book.

Nat Geo’s Norse Mythology I read, but did not read to the kids. It contained more details and was written in a more matter of fact style than the D’Aulaire’s book. Great for an older student, or for the adult that wants to have more background knowledge.

Vicky Alvear Shecter’s books have been our go to as soon as we finish the traditional mythology stories for Greek, Egyptian, and now Norse mythology. Thor Speaks is told from the point of view of Thor, the books is supposed to be “scary,” and is beautifully sarcastic. Her books cover mythology but also important factual events and characters. We’ve loved all three of these books.

Arthur and the Golden Rope is such a sweet picture book about a small boy who saves his town. It is not a traditional Norse mythology story, but it pulls in Fenrir and several of the Norse gods. I actually read this book to my 6 year old first, to draw her into the traditional mythology.

Thor’s Wedding Day is a late elementary level novel retelling of the story of the theft of Thor’s hammer by a giant who demands Freya’s hand in marriage. Loki suggests that Thor dresses up as Freya to get the hammer back. It’s a funny one!

So, so, so glad we stumbled across this book. The Dragon’s Hoard contains a series of short stories adapted from Viking sagas – the stories the Norse told about themselves. We hear about the invasion of Scottish islands, monsters and zombies, kings, and some great riddles. This is a must read!

Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? Life as a Viking is written in the same style. Readers either raid the monastery at Lindisfarne, travel south through England raiding a you go, or participate in the battle of Stamford Bridge. Fiction, but based upon fact.

Odd and the Frost Giants is a sweet interpretation of a traditional legend, Odd is a boy who wants to be a hero. Another good story for younger children, but can be enjoyed by all.

My 9 year old has loved the entire Thunder Girls series. Based more loosely on the traditional myths they are much more fiction than traditional tale, but they certainly get the essence of the Norse gods and goddesses across. Joan Holub has so many great historical fiction books for elementary readers – from leveled readers, early chapter books, to these short novels – she’s worth a look.

So I didn’t love the Percy Jackson books. The Magnus Chase books are a bit better, but they aren’t as engaging as some of the novels below. However 9 From The Nine Worlds follows Thor on a jog through the nine worlds, describing a good description on each realm. I think this could be read without reading the Magnus Chase novels.

We loved this novel with a strong female lead. The Last Shadow Warrior is very much fiction and set in the present day, Abby is proud of her Norse heritage as she sets off to save the world.

Another set of novels with strong female leads. The Valkyrie series of books are very age appropriate for upper elementary readers. Freya is very concerned with the gravity of her role as a Valkyrie and doing the right thing. It also looks like this author has other mythological fiction series.

The Magic Treehouse books are great for emerging readers. We actually read this one quite a while before our Norse unit, but it provided great background knowledge.

The Blast Back books are a great hit of factual information in a book short enough to read aloud in one sitting, or as a lower elementary chapter book. This was great to start peppering in the facts once we moved on from mythology.

Magic Treehouse Fact Trackers pair so well with the beginning chapter books. A little bit of a higher reading level they provide bite size chunks of information about the Vikings!

Who Was Lief Eriksons provides great biographical knowledge of the first European to set foot on the North American continent. Who Was books are always a hit in our house.

You Wouldn’t Want to be a Viking Explorer! has all the gore and disgusting bits second plane kids love. Lots of facts in a cartoonish style.

We enjoyed looking at all the factual information and photographs in DK Findout Vikings! Great for my lower elementary kids to find about about many different parts of Viking life.

The next step up from a DK Findout, the Eyewitness Viking book is great at providing more details for my upper elementary kid.

So many great books! What did we miss?