My daughter and I recently began volume 2 of Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World homeschool history curriculum. This retelling of Beowulf was recommended in those materials, and I am so glad we picked it up. The verse is powerful but accessible to children, and the illustrations really add to the atmosphere of the stories.
My daughter’s not much into battles and heroics (she prefers books about animals), but even she enjoyed this version of the Beowulf tales. She read it on her own and then encouraged me to read it on my own (“Mommy, you should really read this story!”) and then aloud to her. The language is lyrical and moving and great fun to read aloud.
An example from the very beginning when Hrothgar greets Beowulf, who has traveled across the “whale-road” to help defend Hrothgar’s people from the monster Grendel:
I knew you as a child, and who has not exulted
In your fame as a fighter? It is a triumph song
That ocean thunders to her farthest shore,
It is a whisper in the frailest sea-shell…’
When I read the end of the last of the three tales/episodes (The Fire Dragon) to my daughter she said, “Mommy, I nearly cried at that last part.”
I feel the same way.