Heather Haupt is a mother of four and the author of Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys. In this excerpt from the book, Heather shares how children’s stories — in particular tales of knights and grand adventures — can help kids appreciate and embrace the virtues of chivalry, bravery, and compassion. Read on to learn more and discover her book picks for young readers.
Learning about chivalry reminds us of the importance of narrative and the role it plays in our lives. Narrative is a powerful tool used by cultures all over the world and across the expanse of time. It is the main mode for passing down history, drawing one into a community identity, teaching important lessons, and inculcating values. Narrative teaches us about the past and inspires us to act both now and in the future. Jesus used parables to teach. Charlemagne instructed Einhard to record the story of his reign. Alfred the Great had the history of the British Isles recorded. And early American history used to be a bedrock of what was taught in schools in the United States. Why? Because stories are powerful, and knowing our history instills a sense of pride in our roots and a desire to continue those ideals on which a civilization was founded.
Why do we want to introduce our boys to the grand stories of knights? Not so they can engage in bloody battles and return to feudalism. Instead, we want to inspire them to embody the ideals of chivalry, to encourage them that evil can and should be fought, and to help them overcome their own weaknesses and selflessly display courage in helping others.
Stories from this period often slip into the realm of fairy tale. But fairy tales are not a waste of time. They help shape the moral imagination. They are of infinite importance in the lives of our children because, as G. K. Chesterton reminds us, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” There is evil in the world. There is evil lurking in the hearts of humankind. Children know this. What they need are reminders that these dragons can and ought to be defeated.
Your boys will find friends and mentors as they immerse themselves in the tales of kings such as Arthur, Charlemagne, and Alfred the Great and the stories of knights such as Lancelot, Gawain, William Marshal, Saint George, and Sir Gareth.
Adventure, Chivalry, and Character Books
If You Can Get Only Four:
Other Great Medieval, Knight, and Chivalry Books:
Excerpted from Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys by Heather Haupt with the permission of TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2017 by Heather Haupt.