This book follows the tradition of teaching history in a story-based format. The often-politicized "social studies" approach to history focuses on economic and class underpinnings of historical events and on interpreting history rather than teaching its facts. Why are we not surprised that this leaves kids - from elementary through high school - totally disinterested and annoyed? If a kid remembers what 'feudalism' is, but can't recall a single story about Charlemagne, Richard the Lionheart, or Barbarossa, their history teacher may want to look into actually teaching history "If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten," said Rudyard Kipling.
To create a memorable narrative for kids, I have gone back to many original sources of historical tales and anecdotes, such as medieval chronicles and sagas, and retold their stories in a way most likely to engage a modern kid. I haven't included any gruesome details, nor anything outside of traditional family-friendly morality. The list of historical and legendary figures featured in this book includes: King Arthur, Charlemagne, Erik the Red and Leif Eriksson, Alfred the Great, Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror, El Cid, Thomas Becket, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart, Frederick Barbarossa, St. Francis, Marco Polo, Dante, Fra Angelico, Joan of Arc and Johannes Gutenberg. I believe that illustrations are important in helping kids (and grownups ) visualize and retain a historical narrative. So this book is richly illustrated with reproductions of historical paintings and photos of medieval artifacts. I selected mostly late 19th century and early 20th century realistic paintings to most accurately portray historical events, costumes, and environments.