Family reading recommendations

A Medieval Feast, by Aliki (author and illustrator)

A Medieval Feast follows the lord of Camdenton manor as he prepares his home for a visit from the king. Everyone living in the manor has a job to do, from weaving new garments to preparing bedchambers or making the feast itself. When the king comes, he and his entourage eat the many fantastic dishes—birds baked into pies, roast pigs, even a peacock with its feathers on—prepared for one long meal that lasts all day.


An Abecedarium: Illuminated Alphabets from the Court of the Emperor Rudolf II
, by Lee Hendrix and Thea Vignau-Wilberg (authors)

Explore the alphabet illuminated by Joris Hoefnagel, a painter at the court of Rudolf II. Embellished with masks, animals, plants, and other symbols that convey the power of the emperor, this rich alphabet is nothing like you’ve ever seen before!


Art and Architecture
, by Stewart Ross (author)

From cathedrals to manor houses, monasteries to manuscripts, this book describes how art was made during the medieval period. Discover how books were illustrated or how stories were told in stained glass windows through these tales of life in medieval times.


Illuminated Manuscripts, by Janice Anderson (author)

This book documents the art of manuscript illumination and its development and flourishing during the medieval period. Often produced in convents, monasteries, and abbeys in medieval Europe, illuminated manuscripts provided expression for the outpouring of faith experienced by people living during the medieval era.


Magic in the Margins: A Medieval Tale of Bookmaking, by W. Nikola-Lisa (author) and Bonnie Christensen (illustrator)

Simon, an orphaned son of peasants, gets a one-of-a-kind opportunity when he is adopted by monks in a monastery. The work of the monks is to illuminate, or illustrate, manuscripts, and they begin to teach Simon their work. But before Simon can illuminate a book on his own, the monastery’s father gives him specific instructions—he must learn how to capture mice.

Marguerite Makes a Book
, by Bruce Robertson (author) and Kathryn Hewitt (illustrator)

Inspired by an illuminated manuscript in the collection of the Getty Museum, Marguerite Makes a Book follows a young girl named Marguerite as she helps her father illuminate a book of hours. Marguerite journeys throughout medieval Paris to gather supplies in order to finish the book and is rewarded with the opportunity to finish the book herself.

The Medieval Flower Book
, by Celia Fisher (author)

The Medieval Flower Book explores the meaning of flowers to medieval audiences. This book showcases an alphabetical collection of around one hundred of the most important flowers in medieval manuscripts. These beautiful medieval illustrations are reproduced alongside descriptions of the flowers’ use, meaning, and growing patterns.


The Medieval Menagerie: Animals in the Art of the Middle Ages, by Janetta Rebold Benton (author)

In medieval times, imagination abounded. This book traces the medieval depiction of animals, real and imagined. Including everything from imaginary creatures like dragons and unicorns to animals like lions and monkeys, which were rarely seen by European eyes, this menagerie has been assembled from cathedrals, manuscripts, and paintings created during the medieval period.


Download Medieval Bologna reading recommendations (pdf)

Rare Books Video and Activity

At Home Activity: Illuminated Letter

(click here to download a printable PDF of the activity)

Please consider supporting the Frist Art Museum with a donation. Your gift is essential to our mission of serving the community through the arts and art access in particular. We truly appreciate your generosity.