Reading is such a wonderful way to connect with your children about difficult topics, such as explaining the importance of Remembrance Day.
Over the past few years, we’ve read a few wonderfully written and illustrated books that attempt to give children some context about November 11. We thought we’d share a few, as well as a few we’re hoping to read. These titles are a good match for preschool and early school age children.
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion is one of the loveliest books we have on our shelves at home.
Growing up, I remember the large role that the Legion and all its services, especially Remembrance Day, played in my grandparents’ lives. Both my grandmother and grandfather had been involved in their own ways during World War II, serving here on the homefront. I didn’t have a chance to speak with them much about their experiences, or those of their friends, but could sense the enormity and solemnity of November 11. I very much relate to the young grandchild in Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion, trying to understand his grandfather’s uniform and medals, and the sadness that accompanies placing a wreath at a cenotaph.
A Poppy is to Remember serves as a more educational introduction to the symbol we wear and the poem In Flanders Fields. It’s recommended for ages six and up, but we’ve read it as young as four. It’s a popular choice among teachers and preschools for good reason.
Bunny the Brave War Horse is a lovely telling of the real life police horse, Bunny, and brother Bud and Thomas Dundas, who served during World War I. Children often relate well to animals and Bunny’s story of providing comfort to his riders during the war is thoughtful way to approach the heavy emotional discussions around war. The book is recommended for ages six and older.
A Bear in War is a multi-award winning tale that’s built on the true story of one family’s experience during World War I. A young husband and father enlists and heads overseas in 1915; over the two and a half years, his family exchanges letters. His young daughter, Aileen, worries about her father’s safety and sends her beloved Teddy to keep him company. While Teddy makes his way back to her, Lieutenant Lawrence Browning Rogers of the Fifth Canadian Mounted Rifles dies in the battle of Passchendaele.
Teddy returns in A Bear on the Homefront in which Aileen is now a nurse during World War II. She befriends William and Grace, siblings who have been sent from Britain to Canada to avoid the war. Both books are illustrated by Brian Deines and written by Aileen’s grandniece,
Brian Deines has collaborated with fellow Torontoian Linda Granfield on a number of children’s books about topics relating to war, soldiers, and Canada. A few titles include The Vimy Oaks: A Journey to Peace (commemorating the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge with the story of Leslie Miller, a soldier who sent home a handful of acorns from France that have grown to oak trees standing today on the family farm in Ontario) and The Road to Afghanistan (recommended for ages 7+). We haven’t read these yet but are planning to pick them up. Linda Granfield has a host of other children’s books that relate to Remembrance Day, including In Flanders Fields: The Story Of The Poem By John Mccrae.
Sitting together to read and talk about the stories in these pages are a wonderful way to introduce the meaning behind Remembrance Day with young children, especially those who are removed from the current day-to-day realities of military life. If making your way to a local service isn’t feasible, I urge you to spend some quiet moments on November 11 reading with your children and reflecting on the day.
Have you read any books that have helped explain Remembrance Day to young children? Share the titles, please, we’d love to know!