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6 Remembrance Day Picture Book Recommendations

November 11, Remembrance Day, is an important day to recognize at school.  It’s a time to both reflect on the past and also consider the present and future. It can also be an excellent day to have thoughtful discussions with your students, not only about the sacrifices made by others, but also about the concepts of conflict and peace.  

Conversations about big topics like this can be tricky.  Picture books are a great way to start the conversation.  There are many amazing books that can help students understand the significance of Remembrance Day.  I've compiled a list of six teacher-tested picture books perfect for a wide range of learners and a variety of Remembrance Day experience levels.

A Poppy is to Remember

Written by Heather Patterson       Illustrated by Ron Lightburn 

This is a great story, especially for younger learners or those new to Canada. It explains quite clearly why we have poppies as a symbol honouring those who fought for us using simple language. The poem "In Flander's Fields" is also included.

Bunny the Brave War Horse

Written by Elizabeth MacLeod      Illustrated by Marie Lafrance

This book is based on the true story of a police horse named Bunny and his riders, brothers Bud and Thomas Dundas. They were sent to the European front as part of the 9th Battery Canadian Field Artillery. Students will learn about the hardships WWI soldiers endured, including a gas attack, wounded and killed comrades, exploding bombs and episodes of severe hunger. This story is a lot gentler for young readers because it focuses on the relation ship between horse and rider. There is also a brief historical recap at the end that provides more background information about the real-life Bunny, Tom and Bud, with dates and specifics about WWI.

World War Won

Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

This is the first book from author of kid's favourite, Captain Underpants. He wrote this book as a youth for a contest and won. Told in rhyme, this book is the story of two kings, a fox and a raccoon, who race to build the highest stockpile of weapons. A strong wind threatens to topple the piles and makes them both fearful of the consequences. Students of all ages can take a message from this story, whether it be about disagreements on the playground or arguing government officials. It's out of print, so a bit difficult to find, but still made the list due to being such a great read.

Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion

Written by Jane Barclay      Illustrated by Renne Benoit 

This is an amazing story for focusing similes as well as on the skill of visualizing. 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. Soon, the old man’s room is filled with an imaginary menagerie as the child thinks about different aspects of wartime. But as he pins medals on his grandpa’s blazer and receives his own red poppy in return, the mood becomes more somber. The importance of remembering is made very clear in this picture book.

The Little Yellow Bottle

Written by Angèle Delaunois      Illustrated by Christine Delezenne

This story is relevant wars going on in present time. Marwa and Ahmad live in an unnamed country that could be any one of dozens touched by war. While they know that there is a war going on, life in their village goes on largely as normal. Marwa is the narrator of the story, and she tells of a day when planes flew over their village "like a cloud of angry wasps". They are warned that these planes dropped bombs, but after being frightened for a few days they forget of the danger. Until a day when the two are playing and Ahmad finds a small yellow bottle and out of curiosity picks it up.

Erika's Story

Written by Ruth Vander Zee       Illustrated by Roberto Innocenti 

Erika's Story is a more sensitive picture book. I wouldn't recommend it for students younger than Grade 4. (Be warned: I cry whenever I read this story aloud.) It is set in the winter of 1944. In Nazi-occupied Europe, a Jewish couple realize their fate is sealed and make a heart-wrenching decision so that their infant daughter might live. The narration and illustrations combine to capture the fear, love, and sadness of a Holocaust survivor's story.

Interested in some blackline masters you can use with any of the books above?  Click the image or button below to get your copies.

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