We started our Middle Ages reading with Margaret Leighton's Twelve Bright Trumpets. It consists of twelve fictional stories, set in the Middle Ages. Real historical figures drop in and are accurately depicted, but the main action centers on young people of the time. This would, I thought, serve as a nice introductory piece for our reading this year.
We do like the book, and the girls were enjoying the stories. But I felt I'd dropped it into the wrong slot in our reading schedule. There was just enough confusion ("What year are we in again?") that I decided we'll go back to this one at the end of the year. Then, certain stories will make more sense ("Oh, yeah! I remember when we read about Charlemagne!") and Twelve Bright Trumpets will serve to reinforce our other reading, rather than introduce us to it.
From there, we moved on to Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard. We all enjoyed this one quite a lot. Set in the year 597, it follows the life of young Wolf, who is being raised in Rome after his father, a former slave, was freed by Pope Gregory. Now, Wolf longs to accompany his father and the admired monk, Augustine, on a Christian mission to the land of their birth, England. Once they've landed, Wolf encounters foreign speech, strange beliefs and unsettling danger. He also finds a lifelong friend.
Willard has a nice way of roping the young reader in fairly quickly, creating concern for her characters. At the same time, the prominence of Pope Gregory and Augustine (later bishop of Canterbury) in this story helped to fix the time period in the girls' minds. Highly recommended, and the girls' only complaint was that Wolf was not a girl.
We've just begun Son of Charlemagne, also by Barbara Willard. And, though they're enjoying it so far, they're still wishing for a female protagonist.
They'll have to wait, I think, for The Striped Ships by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. According to Kathryn the Bookworm (see the comments of this post), it's told from the perspective of a young Saxon girl. I recently ordered a used copy of it, so my girls will eventually get their wish and might stop asking me, "Why are the Middle Ages all about boys?"
Just one other quick note: the girls are loving their Color Your Own Book of Kells.