Talking to kids about something as big and complex and sad as war is not an easy feat. We find books are always a great way to start a conversation and here we have gathered a number of them, separated by age appropriateness, that you can share with your family in hopes of answering some of the many “why” questions you will get this Remembrance Day. We’ve selected a number of books that talk directly about Remembrance Day as well as others that talk about war, peace, and life during wartime.
Age 4 – 6 (or for all ages)
Short picture books with simple themes are the best choice for this age group. Especially when coupled with an interesting story and beautiful illustrations to keep them engaged. After reading about Remembrance Day you might want to explain what will happen in their school assembly if you have a Kindergartener or will be attending any Remembrance Day events in your neighbourhood.
A Poppy is to Remember
This beautifully illustrated book is a wonderful introduction for primary-aged children to Remembrance Day and why we wear a red poppy.
This is the story of Anna and Ivan, two young newlyweds who escape hardship in Ukraine to start a new life in Canada just as WWI breaks out. Silver Threads is a heart-warming tale of courage, love and faith with a lesson in history.
In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae
John McCrae’s infamous poem is intertwined with fascinating information about WWI, details of daily life at war, and what inspired him to write “In Flanders Fields”.
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion
While a man gets ready to march in a Remembrance Day parade he shares his story with his young grandson about how he was proud as a peacock to wear his uniform, busy as a beaver in the service, brave as a lion in battle, and an elephant who never forgets the friends he lost in the war.
The Peace Book
This recommendation comes straight from our favourite Kindergarten teacher. The Peace Book talks about all the things peace is – helping your neighbour, giving shoes to someone who needs them, and having enough pizza in the world for everyone. After reading this book with your kids, ask them what they think peace is. Their responses might surprise you.
Age 7 – 10
This age group can handle longer books with slightly more complex themes. We’ve included a few chapter books as well as some picture books as we’ve found this age group loves both equally. You may find your intermediate-aged kid gravitating toward one or the other. Encourage discussion around peace, freedom and hopefulness.
A Brave Soldier
A story of a soldier who enlists because he didn’t want to seem like a coward but returns wounded and a changed man. While beautifully illustrated, the story includes frank narratives about some of the realities of war and talks of death.
With the threat of war looming, Anna’s father moves her family from Germany to Canada. Anna is clumsy and awkward and doesn’t quite fit in with her family. From Anna is a touching story with a heart-warming ending. While this book is not directly about Remembrance Day or war, the threat of danger is what prompts Anna’s family to move and what, in turn, saves her life.
On Remembrance Day
This book explains all the reasons to celebrate Remembrance Day as well as the customs and traditions of events across Canada. Beautiful photographs of the events help illustrate all aspects of this special, sombre day.
The Unknown Soldier
Around the world there are memorials to honour unknown fallen soldiers. The author takes you on a journey in this powerful story full of beautiful illustrations and photos visiting tombs of the Unknown Solider in 14 different countries. Full of factually fascinating information, you will learn about the common themes that connect the countries and other symbols of remembrance attached to these memorials
Age 11 +
Pre-teens and teenagers can handle much more mature themes, and our book list here reflects that. A great way to encourage discussion after reading these books is to ask your kid on what they feel war has taught us and how we might stop war from happening again.
This is the first in a series of four books that follows Parvana, an 11-year old girl who lives in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan. The story is about loyalty, survival, family and friendship under extraordinary circumstances during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. When her father is arrested, the family grows desperate for money and there is only one solution to their struggles. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.
This book tells the story of the search for the owner of a suitcase that ended up in the Tokyo Holocaust Centre. The owner was young Hana Brady, a prisoner at Auschwitz. You’ll learn all about Hana, her brother and family and how their happy life was turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis.
This book follows 14 year-old Luka, a slave worker in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Desperate to be free he manages to escape and join a group of Ukrainian resistance fighters. This book makes some of the lesser-known events of the Second World War accessible and engaging for younger readers.
While we have separated these books by what we feel is a suitable age range, you know your child best, so we recommend reading the book before sharing it with your kids to make sure it is appropriate.
By: Michelle Hughes