Remembrance. It is a major topic of the Year Three curriculum for History, but with Anzac Day around the corner, it is something many teachers spend time teaching about at this time of year. There are many picture books on the topics of Anzac Day and war and using one or more of them is a good place to start any learning program on these topics.
I have a
little large collection of titles on this theme and I have some definite favourites. This year there have been a number of new titles published and some of these will be making it to my all time favourite list as they are simply beautiful.
So, my all time favourite books for teaching about remembrance are;
Memorial by Gary Crew and Illustrated by Shaun Tan
The story begins with the line, “My great grandpa says they planted the tree on the day he came home from the war.” The book goes on to tell about the Moreton Bay Fig tree that is planted near the statue of the unknown soldier at the crossroads of a town. Different voices from the same family speak of their memories of returning from various wars and memories they have of the tree. The tree grows to be a nuisance that must be cut down and the family discuss memory and memorials. Shaun Tan’s images are simply stunning.
In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen and Illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever
This book is set in Flander’s Fields on Christmas morning and tells of a soldier’s experience in the trenches during the cease-fire. The soldier notices a robin caught in the barbed wire denoting no-man’s land. The soldier risks his life to rescue the robin. The most beautiful part of the story is the use the words of the song Silent Night heard being sung in German, showing that enemies are not that different from each other. Brian Harrison-Lever’s pen and ink illustrations perfectly show the desolateness of trench warfare and contrast this to the freeing of the bird.
Anzac Biscuits by Phil Cummings and Illustrated by Owen Swan
This is a great book to use with younger students. It tells the story of a young girl and her mother making biscuits to send to Dad, who is fighting in the war. Each 2-page spread alternates between an image of the girl and mother in the warm and safe kitchen; and Dad in the cold, lonely war-zone. The two stories take place side-by-side allowing discussion about contrast and imagery. The illustrations are expressive, but not confronting. Colour is used to convey the difference between the two settings.
The Poppy by Andrew Plant
Villers-Bretonneux is a town that has never forgotten the contribution of Australian soldiers during World War One. The Poppy uses the image of a red poppy petal to guide the reader through the locality of Villers-Bretonneux and the important monuments and places along the way. There is a map in the end pages and a page of factual information given about the village and its significance. The pictures are presented on a black background, making the colours in them vivid and happy. A great book for talking about how people remember good deeds and memorialise certain events.
Lone Pine by Susie Brown and Margaret Warner, Illustrated by Sebastian Ciaffaglione
This book makes me cry every time I read it, it is based on factual information. The story tells about a pine cone sent from a son to a mother from Gallipoli during the fighting of WW1. The mother grows 2 seedlings from the pine cone which are planted in her home town and at the National Memorial in Canberra. Sebastian Ciaffaglione’s artworks are sublime, the way he captures light is incredible (some of the images look like they are glowing). Lone Pine is a great accompaniment to Memorial as they both deal with trees as symbols of remembrance.
All of the books I have listed on the graphic are wonderful. They deal with real events, in heartfelt and at times confronting ways. I love teaching about the history of Anzac day and its significance to so many. If you have a great book that you have used to teach remembrance I would love to hear about it.