Talking to children about Remembrance Day (November 11th) is not always easy. These books will help.
On November 11th, Canadians will be attending military parades, ceremonies, and observing two minutes of silence at 11:00 a.m. This holiday commemorates military men and women who lost their lives in the First World War. Veterans and those killed in action in more recent wars are sometimes also commemorated during this holiday; however, it was originally introduced to mark the ending of the First World War on November 11th, 1918. Remembrance Day is observed in all commonwealth nations.
In Canada, poppies are a stark reminder of the world’s painful war histories, as well as a way to honour those who gave their lives to preserve our freedoms. Children may ask about poppies and may want to commemorate the holiday. While speaking with children about war can be difficult, some authors have paved the way to begin the conversation. The following children’s books will help young children learn about Remembrance Day, and will be excellent resources for years to come.
A Poppy is to Remember, by Heather Patterson
This excellent children’s book retells the story of World War I in an age-appropriate way, and recounts the poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae. McCrae was a Canadian military physician who wrote this poem after caring for several wounded soldiers, and after watching many more give their lives for their countries. The story of the ending of the war, the significance of the poem, as well as the poppies it immortalizes, is set against beautiful illustrations in this book. One page quotes the poignant poem, which is now in the public domain:
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, circa 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In addition to being a conversation starter about the Great War, this book also offers an opportunity to discuss poetry and the power of the written word.
Remembrance Day and the Poppy, by Helen Cox Cannons
This children’s books covers important events in world history, including World War I and the sacrifices made my soldiers during times of war. It also covers the symbolism of he poppy, and how sales of artificial poppies help to raise funds for veterans in Canada.
While talking to children about war can be a difficult task, keeping the memory of those who died to secure our freedoms is important. If you are unsure about how to start the conversation, these books will help.
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