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Books to help children and teens understand Remembrance Day

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It’s Remembrance Day today, and this year Remembrance Day seems to have a particular grip on public awareness in the UK because it’s the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year of this century.

This morning, Philippa Dickinson, MD of Random House Children’s Books, tweeted the title of a book that she thought would help children to understand Remembrance Day: Teresa Breslin’s Remembrance.

There’s a fair number of children’s non-fiction titles about Remembrance Day itself listed on Amazon, but I am not familiar with them.

Here, though, are four books that I think give children and teenagers a strong sense of the horrors of fighting the First World War:

Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo

Private Peaceful Michael Morpurgo

Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer (The realities of trench warfare are only a peripheral part of this book, but a powerful one.)

Testament of Youth by Vera Britain

Of course, Remembrance Day isn’t just about soldiers in the First World War, but, though I could think of several great children’s books about the Second World War (among them Anne Frank’s Diary, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Carrie’s War, Goodnight Mister Tom, The Endless Steppe), I couldn’t think of any about the experience of being a soldier or of working with soldiers in wars other than the First World War other than Bernard Ashley’s The Little Soldier.

Please comment or tweet if you can recommend books about the realities of fighting in the First World War or any other wars.

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4 Responses to “Books to help children and teens understand Remembrance Day”

  • It doesn’t really focus on the realities of fighting, but I do like Friend or Foe by Michael Morpurgo. A crashed German pilot saves an evacuee from drowning. Then the boy (and his friend) has to decide what to do. Does he turn in the man who saved his life just because he’s the enemy?

    It’s an excellent book to share with a class, good for discussing moral dilemmas.

  • The First World War is definitely harder to find suggestions for – maybe because WWII plays a much larger part in school curricula? My nominations for WWII books, though, are The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

  • The Machine Gunners, Robert Westall; The Silver Sword&, Ian Serraillier; Flambards series, K.M. Peyton; We Couldn’t Leave Dinah, Mary Treadgold; The Book Thief, Markus Zusak; The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne; Diary of Anne Frank; In My Hand, Irene Gut Opdyke; Hitler’s Canar, Sandi Toksvig and Bali Rai suggested Auslander by Paul Dowswell.

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