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7 children's books to celebrate St George's Day

Think of St George and you're probably picturing a heroic knight slaying a ferocious dragon but like many saints the story of St George is a bit of a mystery.

Although we celebrate St George's Day today on 23rd April, St George in fact was born in the 3rd century AD – more than 2,000 miles away in modern day Turkey. And he never set foot in England at all.

George was renowned for his holiness and bravery, became popular with early English kings and his feast day was celebrated in England from the 9th century onwards. And during the reign of Henry VIII the George Cross was used to represent England and has been used ever since. In 1552 St George was adopted as the sole patron saint of England.

The story of St George killing a dragon was a legend brought back from Asia by the Crusaders in the 12th century, long after the time that he lived. Legend has it that George arrived upon a village where a dragon was terrorizing the local people. In the Middle Ages the dragon was commonly used to represent the Devil. There are many versions of the story of St George slaying the dragon, but most agree that a town was bring terrorised by a dragon, a young princess was offered to the dragon, when George heard about this he rode into the village, slayed the dragon and rescued the princess.

Take a look below at some of our favourite children's books telling the story of the legend of St George.

We have included Jackie Morris' incredible Tell Me A Dragon in here as every child is fascinated by dragons and in this very welcome reissue they are stunningly brought to life in all their glorious variety, through the words and pictures of a real artist. It's a truly imagination-stirring read that will excite young readers, ignite their imaginations and those of the adults reading to/with them.

And we mustn't forget The Dragon Machine which although not about the story of St George, it's the perfect introduction to the legendary world of dragons. The Dragon Machine uses a clever mix of text and illustrations to describe how George, a young, overlooked boy, becomes aware of dragons hiding all around him. But when it becomes apparent that they don't belong in George's ordinary world, he endeavours to do the best for his new friends and find them the home they deserve. A heart-warming and magical tale from award-winning illustrator, Helen Ward.

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