Explaining Remembrance Day to Children

Remembrance Day poppies are everywhere right now. As they should be. Assemblies are happening in schools, the Royal Canadian Legion has its poster and essay contest happening, and there is a theme of war and peace running through conversations, on the front page of newspapers, and on TV commercials. With all of this attention on Remembrance, often comes questions from children.

It is important that we teach our kids to respect this time of year, but war is not an easy topic.

There are a few really good Remembrance Day themed books available in local bookstores, libraries, and online that can help children grasp these difficult concepts.

The following are some of our favourites. But by all means, visit the library, and chat with a librarian for recommendations. They are always happy to help, and they know their shelves inside and out.

Bunny the Brave War Horse by Elizabeth MacLeod

This powerful picture book brings a little bit of World War I to life through the true story of a police horse named Bunny, his riders, and his brothers.

Many elements of the first World War are explored, including gas attacks, fallen comrades, bombs, and hunger. These heavier topics can be glazed over/altered by a watchful parent of a younger child (assuming he/she can’t read), without losing the overall theme of the tale. The story focuses on the relationship between Bunny and the soldiers making it easier for young children to understand the hardships of war.

There is a map included in the book and a historical recap including information about WW I.

One warning: Since this book details what actually happened to horses during WWI, there is mention of horses dying and being left behind. A child who is sensitive to animals may not understand this, so parents should be prepared for lots of questions (emphasizing that this war happened a long time ago helps).

In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield

This year marked one hundred years since John McCrae wrote the poem almost every Canadian has recited or quoted at least once in their lives. This special edition book was released in celebration of this anniversary.

What better way to teach your children about Remembrance Day than with this beautiful poem with its message of respect and wish for peace. Then, when they hear the poem at school or during a Remembrance Day ceremony, the words will be more familiar to them.

A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson

The stunning illustrations in this book will wow you as the story explains how a bright red poppy became a symbol of freedom.

This book also includes a deep explanation about the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” which will make the words have more meaning when children hear them during Remembrance Day ceremonies.

A Bear in War by Stephanie Innes & Harry Endrulat

This heartbreakingly beautiful story about Lawrence Browning Rogers. More specifically, the story of the teddy bear his daughter sent to him overseas to keep him safe. The teddy returned home, but Lawrence does not. This story is a moving introduction to war and truly teaches children the importance of Remembrance.

Have you read any books about Remembrance Day that you would add to our list?

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