In two weeks, on November 11, Canadians will observe Remembrance Day. It is so important to teach our children to honour those who have given and are giving their lives to protect our country and our freedom. We live in a great country and it’s easy to take it for granted!
War can be a difficult topic to broach with our children – but it is a part of our history and can be spoken about with sensitivity. Thankfully, there are a plethora of good books that artfully and tactfully teach us about the stories and aspects of war and the lives of those who have served.
11 Remembrance Day Books for Kids
Picture Books for Remembrance Day (Kindergarten to Grade 3)
In response to his grandson’s questions, a granddad 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 as he charged into battle. The room is filled with an imaginary menagerie as the child thinks about the different aspects of war.
The true story of how a tiny stuffed bear named Teddy became an enduring memento of a Canadian family’s love during World War I. Teddy now lives in a glass display case at the Canadian War Museum and is one of its most beloved exhibits.
A Poppy Is to Remember explains the symbolism of the poppy. This gorgeous book, with paintings by award-winning illustrator Ron Lightburn, includes information on Canada’s wartime and peacekeeping endeavours, and the notable poem, In Flanders Fields.
Remembrance Day Non-Fiction (Grades 4-8)
Brewster honours the men who fought at Vimy Ridge as well as those who gave their lives. Contains photographs, illustrations, glossary, index and selected bibliography.
Canadian World War II pilot Charley Fox, now in his late eighties, has had a thrilling life, especially on the day in July 1944 in France when he spotted a black staff car, the kind usually employed to drive high-ranking Third Reich dignitaries. Already noted for his skill in dive-bombing and strafing the enemy, Fox went in to attack the automobile. As it turned out, the car contained famed German General Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, and Charley succeeded in wounding him. Rommel, who at the time was the Germans supreme military commander in France orchestrating the Nazis resistance to the D-day invasion, was never the same after that. Author Steve Pitt focuses on this seminal event in Charley Fox’s life and in the war, but he also provides fascinating aspects of the period, including profiles of noted ace pilots Buzz Beurling and Billy Bishop, Jr., and Great Escape architect Walter Floody, as well as sidebars about Hurricanes, Spitfires, and Messerschmitts.
“Loved and were loved, and now we lie / In Flanders fields.” Learn how unknown soldiers are honoured worldwide with monuments, memorials, tombs, tributes and symbols. See how genetic identification leads to fewer “unknowns.” Includes photos, artwork, glossary, index and timeline.
A young fighter pilot’s action-packed account of some of the fiercest battles of WWI — fought, for the first time, thousands of feet above the ground. Packed with nail-biting, high-flying action and fascinating insights into the early days of aerial warfare, Fire in the Sky is sure to be the new favourite of young history buffs and adventure-lovers alike.
Grade 7 and up (more sensitive content)
The Battle of Passchendaele has come to epitomize the horrors of World War I, but also uncommon leadership and extraordinary heroism. This thoroughly illustrated, accessible account of the battle tells the story of Canada’s triumph and tragedy.
Mariatu Kamara was 12 and living in a small village in Sierra Leone when young rebels cut off her hands. Discover her astounding journey from her war-torn country to a new life in Canada and a role as a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Winner of the 2009 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction.
Remembrance Day Read Alouds
June 6th, 2004 will mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day, when Canadians landed on Juno Beach. This outstanding book contains unpublished accounts of D-Day eyewitnesses and participants, and through their eyes we are able to see what it was like to live through the assault on Hitler’s Atlantic Wall and the massive invasion that followed. Captivating photographs and memorabilia bring these stories to life.
Writer Karen Levine follows Fumiko Ishioka in her search for the owner of an empty suitcase delivered to the Auschwitz – from present-day Japan, Europe and North America back to 1938 Czechoslovakia and the young Hana Brady, a fun-loving child with a passion for ice-skating. Together with Fumiko, we learn of Hana’s loving parents and older brother, George, and discover how the family’s happy life in a small town was turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis. Full of mystery, Hana’s story comes to life through the eyes of Fumiko and later her brother George, who now lives in Canada. Photographs and original wartime documents enhance a journey that bridges cultures, generations and time.
If you’d like to do a unit study, check out these materials and ideas available from Northwoods Press.
- story about real Canadian secret agents
- critical thinking activity – Ethical Dimensions in History
- Christian critical thinking activity – Is there ever a time for a righteous lie?
- resource links for critical thinking topic
- spy code activity
- resource list: non-fiction, fiction, biography, videos, websites
What can we do to honour our veterans?
Last year was the first year we have been able to make it to a memorial ceremony. It was sobering and phenomenal, and if you are at all able, I highly recommend attending one! The number of our veterans are dwindling, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to let them know you’re grateful for their service, and to teach your children to honour their sacrifice.
As well, consider doing one of these simple remembrance activities:
- Write to the troops, and let your Canadian Armed Forces members know you appreciate their service by sending a message using the Department of National Defence website.
- Write to Veterans and Canadian Armed Forces members, by participating in the “Postcards for Peace e-cards,” or “Valentines for Vets” projects.
- Wear a poppy.
- Lay a wreath at the cenotaph with classmates and friends.
- Plant a garden of remembrance (in the spring! Learn about flower symbolism)
- More ways to remember