Remembrance Day books and other books about war for reading and sharing with students:
1. Remembrance Day: “Lest we forget” / Jill Foran
“Canadian Celebrations provides an exciting look at the events that people take part in during Canada’s major holidays. Each title provides information about the history, symbols, and traditions of these special days.”
2. In Flanders Fields: the story of the poem by John McCrae / Linda Granfield; [illustrated
by] Janet Wilson; with an introduction by Dr. Tim Cook.
“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.”
3. On Remembrance Day By Eleanor Creasey
An exploration of Canadian Remembrance Day history, customs, and traditions. Who are the people who offered their lives in war? Why do we remember them? How do we honour their memory?
For children learning about remembrance and the human toll of war, there can be hard questions to answer. This book is meant to answer the questions kids ask about Remembrance Day and to explain how and why we honour the men and women who have served our country. Canada has developed unique ways of honouring and demonstrating respect for its war dead and veterans.
Through every generation there are Canadian families who have lost loved ones to international conflict and war. On Remembrance Day presents the origins, traditions, and customs of Canada’s Remembrance Day in a fashion that is engaging and easy to read.
4. Remembrance Day / Molly Aloian
“Each year on November 11th, millions of people in Canada and other countries in the Commonwealth take time to remember the men and women who served their countries during times of war. This book describes how people around the world hold similar services featuring poppies, poems, and special prayers.”
5. Un coquelicot pour se souvenir / Heather Patterson ; [illustrations] Ron Lightburn ; text français de Claudine Azoulay
Un po’me sur l’espoir qu’inspire le coquelicot, qui s’?panouit l? o? la guerre a d’cim? tant d’humains. Ce po’me est le point de d’part d’une vaste campagne qui vise ? aider les victimes de la guerre, tout en rappelant aux autres combien il a fallu de courage pour survivre ? cette p’riode troubl’e.
Moving text coupled with stunning illustrations by Governor General’s Award-winning artist Ron Lightburn explain the symbolism behind the poppy.
A bonus for teachers is the five-page spread all about the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” Canada’s wartime and peacekeeping endeavours, and the adoption of the poppy as our Remembrance Day emblem.
6. A poppy is to remember / Heather Patterson ; [illustrations] Ron Lightburn.
“With soothing words and illustrations aimed specifically at younger readers, children will learn how the bright red poppy became the symbol for honouring those who fought for freedom.
The text is simple and is combined with stunning paintings by award-winning illustrator Ron Lightburn. The familiar poem, “In Flanders Fields,” is included, along with information about the symbolism and history of the poppy and Remembrance Day – all geared towards helping parents and teachers explain the significance of past and present wars and Canada’s peacekeeping missions.”
7. Remembrance Day / Liz Gogerly
Looking back at the First and Second World Wars, this book investigates the origins of Remembrance Day, and how its significance has grown to incorporate conflicts up to the present day. Explaining why we wear poppies, the book goes on to explore what Remembrance Day means for people today and describes the work of the British Legion.
8. Proud as a peacock, brave as a lion / Jane Barclay; illustrated by Renné Benoit
“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”.
9. Hana’s suitcase anniversary album / by Karen Levine
“A biography of a Czech girl who died in the Holocaust, told in alternating chapters with an account of how the curator of a Japanese Holocaust center learned about her life after Hana’s suitcase was sent to her.”
10. Hana’s suitcase / Karen Levine
“In the spring of 2000, Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of a Holocaust education center in Tokyo, received an empty suitcase from the Auschwitz museum. From the moment she saw it, Fumiko was captivated by the writing on the outside of the suitcase, which identified its owner: “Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Waisenkind” (the German word for orphan). Children visiting the center were full of questions. Who was Hana Brady? Where did she come from? What happened to her? Fueled by their curiosity, Fumiko began a year of detective work, scouring the world for clues.
Writer Karen Levine follows Fumiko in her search, 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. The introduction is by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”
11. The last train: a Holocaust story / by Rona Arato
“The Last Train is the harrowing true story about young brothers Paul and Oscar Arato and their mother, Lenke, surviving the Nazi occupation during the final years of World War II.
Living in the town of Karcag, Hungary, the Aratos feel insulated from the war — even as it rages all around them. Hungary is allied with Germany to protect its citizens from invasion, but in 1944 Hitler breaks his promise to keep the Nazis out of Hungary.
The Nazi occupation forces the family into situations of growing panic and fear: first into a ghetto in their hometown; then a labor camp in Austria; and, finally, to the deadly Bergen Belsen camp deep in the heart of Germany. Separated from their father, 6-year-old Paul and 11-year-old Oscar must care for their increasingly sick mother, all while trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy amid the horrors of the camp.
In the spring of 1945, the boys see British planes flying over the camp, and a spark of hope that the war will soon end ignites. And then, they are forced onto a dark, stinking boxcar by the Nazi guards. After four days on the train, the boys are convinced they will be killed, but through a twist of fate, the train is discovered and liberated by a battalion of American soldiers marching through Germany.
The book concludes when Paul, now a grown man living in Canada, stumbles upon photographs on the internet of his train being liberated. After writing to the man who posted the pictures, Paul is presented with an opportunity to meet his rescuers at a reunion in New York — but first he must decide if he is prepared to reopen the wounds of his past.
“The Last Train is the harrowing true story about young brothers Paul and Oscar Arato and their mother, Lenke, surviving the Nazi occupation during the final years of World War II.”
12. To hope and back: the journey of the St. Louis / Kathy Kacer
“Lisa and Sol board the luxury ship St. Louis in Hamburg, Germany, on May 13, 1939. Lisa and her family are in first class; Sol and his parents are below in tourist class. The children have mixed feelings–they’re excited to be beginning this voyage to a better life and sad to be leaving their old lives behind. They are Jewish, as are almost all of the 937 passengers on board, and although war has not been officially declared in Europe, the Nazis have been persecuting Jews for years. As they set sail for Cuba, the atmosphere on the ship is optimistic, led by the German captain Gustave Shröder, who is determined to see his passengers to safety. But as they learn that Hitler’s propaganda has turned the country against them, the mood changes to despair. They are turned away–first from Cuba, then the United States, and then Canada.
The story of Lisa and Sol is set against the tragic true history of the St. Louis. Denied entry from port after port, the captain was forced to return his Jewish passengers to Europe, where many died in the Holocaust. Through the eyes of Sol and Lisa, we see the injustice and heartbreak that were caused by the prejudice and hatred of so many.”
13. No pretty pictures: a child of war / Anita Lobel
‘The beloved Caldecott Honor artist now recounts a tale of vastly different kind — her own achingly potent memoir of a childhood of flight, imprisonment, and uncommon bravery in Nazi-occupied Poland. Anita Lobel was barely five when the war began and sixteen by the time she came to America from Sweden, where she had been sent to recover at the end of the war. This haunting book, illustrated with the author’s archival photographs, is the remarkable account of her life during those years. Poised, forthright, and always ready to embrace life, Anita Lobel is the main character in the most personal story she will ever tell.The beloved Caldecott Honor artist now recounts a tale of vastly different kind — her own achingly potent memoir of a childhood of flight, imprisonment, and uncommon bravery in Nazi-occupied Poland. Anita Lobel was barely five when the war began and sixteen by the time she came to America from Sweden, where she had been sent to recover at the end of the war. This haunting book, illustrated with the author’s archival photographs, is the remarkable account of her life during those years. Poised, forthright, and always ready to embrace life, Anita Lobel is the main character in the most personal story she will ever tell.”
14. Faces of courage: young heroes of World War II / by Sally M. Rogow
“Depicts the struggle for survival by brave young people who risked their lives to defy the Nazis. There is Kirsten, a young Danish girl who helped save a group of Jewish children from the clutches of the Nazis. Yojo, a Gypsy teenager, guided downed British pilots over the Pyrenees Mountains to freedom in Spain. Jacques, a blind French teenager, organised a student resistance group called Volunteers of Liberty. The Eidelweiss Pirates were German teenagers who opposed the Hitler Youth and aided homeless Jewish children and runways. And Jacob, a young Pole, concealed his Jewish identity and went to work in a German armament factory. Three of the stories relate the heroics of real people; the others are about fictional characters but are based on documented events..”
15. Rescuing the children: the story of the Kindertransport / by Deborah Hodge
“This important book tells the story of how ten thousand Jewish children were rescued out of Nazi Europe just before the outbreak of World War 2. They were saved by the Kindertransport — a rescue mission that transported the children (or Kinder) from Nazi-ruled countries to safety in Britain.
The book includes real-life accounts of the children and is illustrated with archival photographs, paintings of pre-war Nazi Germany by artist, Hans Jackson, and original art by the Kinder commemorating their rescue.”
16. Passage to freedom: the Sugihara story / written by Ken Mochizuki; illustrated by Dom Lee; afterword by Hiroki Sugihara
“The true story of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Schindler, who, with his family’s encouragement, saved thousands of Jews in Lithuania during World War II.
As a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania in the 1940s, Chiune Sugihara had a chance to help thousands of Jews escape the Holocaust through Japan, but it was against his government’s orders. When his five-year-old son Hiroki asked, If we don’t help them, won’t they die? Sugihara decided to assist the refugees.
Based on Hiroki Sugihara’s own words, Passage to Freedom is the first fully illustrated children’s book to tell Sugihara’s heroic story, highlighting his courageous humanity, and the importance of a child’s opinion in his father’s decision.”