Veteran’s Day or Armistice Day or Remembrance Day – however we call it, we all observe this day to honor those who fought for peace; to remember our veterans of the past and of today. So don’t forget to remember, take a moment to honor them, and keeping this in mind, here are 11 Children’s Books for Veteran’s Day as I continue with the theme of featuring children’s books this fall Children’s Book Week.
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11 Children’s Books for Veteran’s Day: Remember and Honor
The Christmas Truce
There are many books with this title; and I read and loved two of them. So here are my quick thoughts on each one. I had read about the truce in a story in the Reader’s Digest years ago (Can’t recall the name) and recall being awed and emotional about it.
About the truce (excerpted from the description of the second book here): The Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of the most extraordinary incidents not only of World War I but of all military history. Providing inspiration for songs, books, plays, and movies, it has endured as an archetypal image of peace. Yet much about the historic event remains shrouded in myth and legend.
The first ‘The Christmas Truce‘ is by Carol Ann Duffy and illustrated by David Roberts.
Carol Ann Duffy proves her literary and poetic skills once again as she poignantly and beautifully retells this true story, which is one for the ages. David Roberts’ drawings are hopeful and inspiring while showing readers that this beacon of hope is shining in the middle of a grim, dark war. A must-read.
The second ‘The Christmas Truce‘ is by Aaron Shepard and illustrated by Wendy Edelson.
In this fictional letter — illustrated in authentic detail by Wendy Edelson — award-winning author Aaron Shepard draws from firsthand accounts of soldiers at the front to portray the truce in its true nature and spirit.
Aaron Shepard uses a fictional letter from a soldier who was part of the Christmas truce to his sister to relate the story of the Christmas truce in this telling. With beautiful illustrations and a touching heartfelt letter from a brother to his sister, this read was one that tugged at heartstrings effortlessly.
Hana’s Suitcase: The Quest to Solve a Holocaust Mystery by Karen Levine
In March 2000, Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of a small Holocaust education center in Tokyo, received an empty suitcase from the museum at Auschwitz. On the outside, in white paint, were the words “Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Orphan.” Fumiko and the children at the center were determined to find out who Hana was and what happened to her all those years ago, leading them to a startling and emotional discovery.
This book is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, as so many such true stories set during wars tend to be. Karen Levine uses a dual POV and timelines to move between the stories of Fumiko and the children as they research, and Hana’s story itself which changed for the worse when the Nazis arrived in their little Czech town.
Hana’s Story brought to mind Anne Frank’s story as well a few other reads, including Yellow Star and Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. I am yet to finish reading this one, but have paused it for a while, as it is definitely a truly moving story.
In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae
In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield and illustrated by Janet Wilson (10 – 14 years, and up)
In this award-winning book, the lines of the celebrated poem are interwoven with fascinating information about the First World War (1914-1918) and details of daily life in the trenches in Europe. Also included are accounts of McCrae’s experience in his field hospital and the circumstances that led to the writing of “In Flanders Fields.”
Many of you might have read the poem “In Flanders Fields” or heard of it. This book takes readers into the story behind it. The book intersperses the lines from the poem each one accompanied by illustrations from Wilson with Linda Granfield’s narrative that talks about the history of the poem and the story of John McCrae himself.
Wilson’s illustrations help tell a story of the war that inspired the poem as readers get a look into the goodbyes, the war-trenches, the makeshift hospitals, the poppies growing where the soldiers now lie. And Granfield’s narrative is rich with information as well as photos and illustrations.
The Lion Above the Door
The Lion Above the Door by Onjali Q. Rauf (9 – 11 years, and up)
From Onjali Q. Rauf, the award-winning and best-selling author of The Boy at the Back of the Class, comes an incredible story about missing histories and the concept of a universal family, told with humour and heart.
I recall wanting to read other books by Rauf but somehow never got to them. This one is a current-read-in-progress but I am so very engrossed in it. Well, I had to take a break to share these books with you here, but I am heading back to it as I can’t wait to continue reading it. Rauf’s writing is lyrical and I am amazed at how the book effortlessly ties together the historical aspects of the war that the protagonist starts researching, and the issues he is facing – of racism and feeling like the odd one out.
Midnight: A True Story of Loyalty in World War I by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frané Lessac (5 – 9 years, and up)
At once sobering and inspiring, here is the true tale of a World War I cavalry soldier and his heroic horse, Midnight.
I don’t know what it is about stories of horses; they often leave me in tears. Black Beauty did so, as did the Son of Black Beauty, and then yet another joins the ranks with Midnight. A story simply told through pictures and minimal text, it is a sad reminder of the impacts of war on us.
Poppy Field by Michael Morpurgo and illustrated by Michael Foreman (7 – 11 years, and up)
A new picture-book classic celebrating the poppy’s history, from two legends of children’s literature. Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy.
Michael Morpugo’s books never fail to impress and leave an impact, and this one is no different, from what I have read so far – another current read. Accompanied with beautiful illustrations by Michael Foreman, this story by Morpugo is proving to be so very heart warming. This book, along with the one following (The Poppy Lady) is connected to the poem In Flanders Fields
The Poppy Lady
The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara E. Walsh and illustrated by Layne Johnson (7 – 11 years, and up)
When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers.
While I knew that the poppy is the symbol to honor soldiers, I had no idea of the story behind it. This book thankfully educated me on this knowledge gap, and does it so with beautiful drawings and a straightforward information filled narrative that never gets boring or complex for its young readers, and yet works very well for older readers too. Once again, a picture book introduced me to yet another unsing hero – Moina Belle Michael!
Proud As A Peacock, Brave As A Lion
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion by Jane Barclay and illustrated by Renne Benoit (4 – 6 years, and up)
Much has been written about war and remembrance, but very little of it has been for young children. As questions come from a young grandchild, his grandpa talks about how, as a very young man, he was as proud as a peacock in uniform, busy as a beaver on his Atlantic crossing, and brave as a lion charging into battle. Soon, the old man’s room is filled with an imaginary menagerie as the child thinks about different aspects of wartime. But as he pins medals on his grandpa’s blazer and receives his own red poppy in return, the mood becomes more somber.
I loved how this book teaches so many things to its readers in this tender conversation between a little boy and his grandpa. We learn a little about grandpa’s wartime efforts and trials, while simultaneously learning many similes and their use. A book that works very well to read aloud together.
Rolling Thunder by Kate Messner and illustrated by Greg Ruth (4 – 8 years, and up)
Lines of bikes are miles long,shining, half a million strong.Rumbling, grumbling, engines roar.Peace signs. High fives. Spirits soar.Every Memorial Day in Washington, DC, more than a million veterans and their supporters gather for the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom, a demonstration that pays tribute to the men and women of the US armed forces.
I hadn’t known of this tribute/ride until I read this book. Kate Messner is one of my will-read authors. Any time I see a book with her name on it, I will be sure to read the book, and she doesn’t disappoint her reader(s) in this book either. Messner’s lyrical narrative shows readers the journey of this ride for freedom through the voice of a child making it with his family in memory of others. We understand the reason behind it and have a chance to be a part of this somber and emotive event. Greg Ruth’s illustrations in a selected palette of colors is gorgeous and emotive.
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Jeff Gottesfeld and illustrated by Matt Tavares (7 – 10 years, and up)
With every step, the Tomb Guards pay homage to America’s fallen. Discover their story, and that of the unknown soldiers they honor, through resonant words and illustrations.
I am trying to recall if I visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on an ages-ago trip to D.C. but my memory fails me. However, reading this book, and looking at the hyper realistic photo-like stunning artwork and the descriptions, I don’t believe I have. I am not sure why or how I missed it except to think we had a really short visit to the area.
This book is a reverence, a homage. To the unknown soldiers who lost their lives for country, to the tomb guards themselves. Gottesfeld’s language is neither patronizing nor complex, and conveys the somberness of this memorial, and the duty of the tomb guards beautifully. Matt Tavares’ artwork, as I mentioned earlier, is stunning and an apt accompaniment to the narrative in tone and reverence.
The Wall (Reading Rainbow Books) by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler (7 – 10 years, and up)
A young boy and his father visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler, this read is oh so beautiful and poignant. Here, we watch the story unfold as a young boy and his father visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. to find his grandfather’s name among the thousands of names on the memorial.
The artwork is realistic and stark and beautiful, and the story told with emotion and in a simple, straightforward narrative, yet sure to have a lasting and powerful impact.
- 10 of the Best WWI Fiction Books: On My TBR
- When Stars are Scattered
- Book Review: The Book of Lost Names
- Nonfiction Week 3: On the Way to Becoming the Expert: has many books around WWII
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read any of the featured books? As always, I welcome your thoughts and recommendations.