Preparing for Remembrance Day commemorations is a great opportunity to talk not only about the sacrifices of the past but to talk about our contributions to peace. There are so many Remembrance Day activities out there, but most of them involve poppy crafts. One of the best ways to learn about the past is by reading Remembrance Day books. They are always a great way to introduce solemn topics while uplifting our students. Most of all, they are portable, easy to use and don’t require a lot of technology.
If you are looking for the reasons why learning about Remembrance Day in important, be sure to read our blog post called The Importance of Remembrance Day.
Although there are many books to acknowledge Remembrance Day out there here is a list of our favourites. We collect these books and keep an entire bin of them available to students.
Boys are often drawn to books about war, so this can be an interesting topic for your reluctant readers. Looking for more suggestions to get your struggling readers reading? Check out this blog post called Strategies for Reluctant Readers.
Picture books are for everyone on Remembrance Day.
The assumption that picture books are only for young students couldn’t be further from the truth. Older students love picture books, too. And they love being read to-partly because it doesn’t happen as often, but also because it takes the pressure off of reading for many students. They can just listen and enjoy a story.
Pictures books about Remembrance Day or war are often written at a much higher reading level, so they are better for upper elementary or middle school students.
A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson – Learn how the poppy became a symbol for Remembrance Day.
Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson – This is a nearly wordless picture book (great for your English Language Learners) is a great way to start the conversation about paying tribute to others.
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion by Jane Barclay – Explore the different sides of war through animal imagery in this creative look.
Bunny the Brave War Horse by Elizabeth MacLeod – Experience World War I through the story of a real life war horse.
Bear on the Homefront by Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat – A young child sends her teddy bear along with her father to the war front.
A Bear in War by Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat – Introduce students to World War I through the story of a Canadian family that exchanged letters and a teddy bear during the war.
No! by David McPhail – This (almost) wordless picture book witnesses the terrible sights and sounds of war.
What does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Radunsky – See what kids around the world say about how peace feels.
Midnight: A True Story Of Loyalty In World War I by Mark Greenwood – This books tells the story of a young Australian who raises a horse. When World War I breaks out they are separated and sent to Europe. Read to find out if they ever find their way back to each other.
The Peace Book by Todd Parr – Who doesn’t love a Todd Parr book? Another book about peace that appeals to younger students.
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon – This is a ballad about living during the war.
Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts About Peace by Anna Grossnickle Hines – This is a collection of poems about peace, illustrated with pieces of quilts.
Jack’s Bugle by Krista Bell – This is the story of a farm boy who goes to war. His bugle returns from the war with his best friend. Will it ever be played again?
Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick – The true story of a soldier who found a bear while training for World War I.
Truce by Jim Murphy – A Christmas day truce during World War I between British and German troops is described.
The Enemy: A book about peace by Davide Cali & Serge Bloch – Get two perspectives on one war war in this picture book of two soldiers on opposing sides.
What is Peace? by Wallace Edwards – A series of questions are asked to children to explore what peace means.
The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield – The story of a young soldier returning from Afghanistan learns about his great-grandfather’s time in World War II and grandfather’s service in WWII.
We also have a small collection of short expository and fiction pieces in our Remembrance Day Reading and Activities package. The topics are Vimy Ridge, D-Day and a story of a child waiting for a parent to return from Afghanistan.
Even though these are written with the focus being Remembrance Day, they can be used any time of year for social studies.
They are designed to be read by upper elementary students, but if your students struggle with reading, you may want to read the passages together as a class.
Non-Fiction Books for Remembrance Day
Highway of Heroes by Kathy Stinson – This is a great book to talk about the sacrifices our soldiers make for us, in a more modern era of the war in Afghanistan.
The Unknown Soldier by Linda Granfield – Look at memorials around the world to remember soldiers who died in war but were never identified.
In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield – Read about the story behind the the most famous poem about war.
Canada’s Wars: An Illustrated History by Jonathan Webb – A historical book explaining wars involving Canada from the Boer War to Afghanistan.
D-Day: The World War II Invasion that Changed History by Deborah Hopkinson – An easy to manage for students look at the D-Day plan that became the turning point in World War Two.
The Vimy Oaks by Linda Granfield – This soldier’s story is told through his diary as his sits at the base of an oak tree.
Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood: A World War I Tale by Nathan Hale– Quick stories and little known facts about World War I.
The Kids Book of Canada at War by Elizabeth MacLeod– This is a great overview of war for kids, kept simple enough to understand but honest enough to be realistic.
What Was the Holocaust? by Gail Herman – This popular series has several topics about the different wars and specific biographies like Anne Frank. They are very readable for students and a favourite in our school.
Why Do We Fight: Conflict, War, And Peace by Niki Walker – A discussion of why people have conflict. This is a quick read and great conversation starter.
World War II: Visual Encyclopedia by DK Books– This is great visual book for students. This one is hard to pry away from them because it’s full of so much and the pictures are fascinating.
DK Eyewitness Books: World War II: Explore the Terrifying Global Conflict That Shaped the Modern World from D-day to the atomic bomb by Simon Adams– This is a great informational book broken down specifically for kids. This one is very popular in our school (we had to a buy a few copies).
Novels, Novellas and Short Stories are great reads for Remembrance Day, too.
Don’t save all your reading about Remembrance Day and Canada’s involvement in different wars for November. You can read about this topics all year round. They often connect to social studies and history lessons and by talking about the issues all year, you can stress the importance of learning about these events. War doesn’t just become a topic for Remembrance Day.
Most of these novels are recommended for students grade five and up. Use your discretion as a teacher, knowing your students best.
Here are some of the best novels we found and shared with our students.
Charlie Wilcox by Sharon E. McKay – A young boy spends part of the war in Halifax and part in France.
Two Generals by Scott Chantler (A Graphic Novel) – The story of young soldiers before their first battle in World War Two.
Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier and Greg Salsedo (A Graphic Novel) – A grandmother tells a story no one in her family has ever heard-how she was hidden from the Nazis in Paris during World War Two.
Remember World War II: Kids Who Survived Tell Their Stories by Dorinda Nicholson – This is a collection of short stories told by children who survived the war.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – Young Ada sneaks away with her younger brother in England when children were shipped to the countryside to avoid being in the middle of the Blitzkreig in London. It also has a sequel.
Tommy Prince: The Scout (A Graphic Novel) by David Alexander Robertson– the story of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous soldier and his encounter with a girl name Pamela.
Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific by Deborah Hopkinson – This book focuses on the war using submarines.
The Boy on the Wooden Box by Marilyn Harran – A memoir of the youngest child to survive the Holocaust.
Salt to the Sea by Ruth Septeys – The story of several unlike people who find each other in Germany during World War Two. This is a ninja favourite!
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne – A boy’s story about a friend he made during the war in Germany.
Making Bombs For Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch – This is the story of a young Ukranian girl captured by the Nazis and forced to work as a slave.
I Survived: The Nazi Invasion 1944 by Lauren Tarshis – If your students love the I Survived series, this is a great one for them, too. Max and Zena have to escape the Nazis in order to survive.
Poppies From Iraq by Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim (A Graphic Novel) – This is a young person’s perspective on growing up in Iraq during political upheaval.
When the Cherry Blossoms Fell by Jennifer Maruno– The story of a young Japanese-Canadian girl who gets interned during World War II despite her family being prominent members of Vancouver society.
Grenade by Alan Gratz – This is a gripping story about what happens during war-and the cost of it all.
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Ali Fadhil and Jennifer Roy – A young Iraqi boys live through the Persian Gulf War under the rule of Saddam Hussein.
A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata – A young Japanese-American girl moves to Hiroshima with her family after the devastating atomic bombing.
Every teacher should have a few books use from year to year for Remembrance Day, but there are new books being published each year, so we’ll always update this list to include the latest and greatest.
Be sure to check with your local librarians. They are always on top of the best books that might be available!
If you’re looking for a shorter activity because you’re crunched for time, you should check out our Remembrance Day Drama Circle. It’s an overview of the importance of Remembrance Day in Canada in simple, easy to read and understand language for upper elementary students.
What are your go to books for Remembrance Day? Share the titles in the comments below so we can add them to our list.