Books

11 Canadian books for children and young adults to read to commemorate Remembrance Day

Nov. 11 is Remembrance Day. Here are 11 books that explore the experience of war and its impact on human life.

Nov. 11 is Remembrance Day. Here are 11 books that explore the experience of war and its impact on human life for children and younger readers.

Winnie's Great War by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhut are co-authors of the book Winnie's Great War. (HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group)

Winnie's Great War tells the true story of Winnie-the-Pooh. Winnie was a black bear purchased by Canadian veterinarian Captain Harry Colebourn, who brought her to Europe during the First World War. Colebourn donated her to the London Zoo, where she became the favourite of a boy named Christopher Robin and his father, the children's writer A.A. Milne. The book is narrated by a descendent of Colebourn, who is telling the story to Colebourn's great-great-grandson.

Winnie's Great War was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text.

Winnie's Great War is for ages 3 to 6.

Mustafa by Marie-Louise Gay 

Marie-Louise Gay is the author of Mustafa. (Groundwood Books)

The picture book Mustafa looks at love, empathy and understanding though the eyes of a child refugee from a war-torn country. Mustafa's new country is very far away from his old home. Sometimes he wakes up forgetting where he is, but then his mother shows him the moon — the same moon from their old country. In the park, Mustafa watches kids play, but he always feels like he's an outsider looking in. One day, "girl-with-a-cat" invites him to join in the fun.

Mustafa was shortlisted for the 2019 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award

Mustafa is for ages 4 to 8.

The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Brian Deines

Linda Granfield is a war historian and has written several children's books about veterans and their families. (Scholastic Canada, Linda Granfield)
 

War historian Linda Granfield composes the stories of three generations of soldiers in this children's book: a young soldier recently returned from Afghanistan; his grandfather, a veteran of the Second World War; and his great-grandfather, who fought in the trenches of the First World War. 

The Road to Afghanistan is for ages 7 and up.

The Eleventh Hour by Jacques Goldstyn, translated by Anne Louise Mahoney

Jacques Goldstyn, also known as Boris, is the author of the picture book The Eleventh Hour. (Owlkids Books, Bayard Canada Livres)

Jacques Goldstyn, also known as the Montreal Gazette cartoonist Boris, has written and illustrated The Eleventh Houra picture book about two friends who enlisted as soldiers in the First World War. Jim has always been stronger and faster than Jules, who is always two minutes behind his friend. On Nov. 11, 1918, Jim is first over the trench and shot at 10:58 a.m., two minutes before Armistice.

The Eleventh Hour is for ages 7 to 10.

Too Young to Escape by Van Ho & Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Too Young to Escape was written by Van Ho. (Submitted by Pajama Press)

Too Young to Escape is based on co-author Van Ho's childhood in Vietnam. As the Vietnam War ends and a communist regime begins in Ho Chi Minh City, Ho wakes up to find that her mother, sister Loan and brother Tuan have escaped in the middle of the night without her. At four years old, Van is too young — and her grandmother is too old — to make the dangerous boat journey west. Once the family is settled, they plan to send for Van and grandmother. Until then, Ho is treated like a servant by her aunt and uncle and is bullied by a classmate, who turns out to be the son of a military policeman.

Too Young to Escape is for ages 8 to 12.

A Grain of Rice by Nhung N. Tran-Davies 

Nhung Tran-Davies is the author of A Grain of Rice. (nhungtrandavies.com)

 A Grain of Rice is a semi-autobiographical novel by Alberta physician and writer Nhung Tran-Davies. It follows a 13-year-old girl's escape from war-torn Vietnam. The protagonist finds hope and courage as she struggles through oppression and poverty. A Grain of Rice is a dramatic look at the aftermath of war and the many risks people will take for a better life.

A Grain of Rice is for ages 9 to 12.

A Boy Is Not a Bird by Edeet Ravel 

Edeet Ravel is an Israeli-Canadian novelist born in Israel and raised in Montreal. (Groundwood Books, Yudit Avi-Dor)

A Boy Is Not a Bird is a middle-grade novel set during the Second World War. In 1941 Europe, tensions are high. Even though Natt knows that there's a war going on, he's frustrated that his family treats him like a child. But when the Russians move into his small town of Zastavna and local authorities start to round up deportees bound for Siberia, Natt witnesses and experiences harsh events that force him to grow up faster than he'd like.

Edeet Ravel is an novelist born in Israel and raised in Montreal. She is also the author of the novel A Wall of Light, which was a finalist for the 2005 Giller Prize

A Boy Is Not a Bird is for readers aged 9 to 12.

Child Soldier by Michel Chikwanine & Jessica Dee Humphreys, illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Michel Chikwanine is the co-author of the nonfiction children's book Child Solider. (Fabiola Carletti/CBC, Kids Can Press)

At the age of five, while celebrating a goal in an after-school game of soccer, Michel Chikwanine was kidnapped by rebel fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He managed to escape, but not before he was subjected to some traumatic experiences. He recounts his story in the comic book Child Soldier, which he co-wrote with Jessica Dee Humphreys and features illustrations by Claudia Davila.

Child Soldier is for ages 10 to 14.

What the Eagle Sees by Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger

Eldon Yellowhorn is the co-author of What the Eagle Sees. (Annick Press)

What the Eagle Sees looks at historical events to reflect an underrepresented Indigenous perspective of our collective past and how to move on in the present and future. Academic Eldon Yellowhorn worked with Kathy Lowinger to examine the lasting impact of settler culture on the Indigenous community.

The book explores the impact of war throughout the centuries, including stories of what Indigenous people did when invaders arrived on their homelands and the involvement of Indigenous people as code talkers during the Second World War. What the Eagle Sees is a follow-up to 2017's Turtle Island

What the Eagle Sees is for ages 11 and up.

Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung 

Homes is a memoir by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung. (Samuel Sir, Freehand Books, Heiko Ryll)

Homes is a memoir of Abu Bakr al Rabeeah's childhood in Iraq and Syria. Just before civil war broke out, the al Rabeeah family left Iraq for safety in Homs, Syria. Al Rabeeah was 10 years old when the violence began in his new home. He remembers attacks on his mosque and school, car bombings and firebombs.

Now a high school student in Edmonton, al Rabeeah shares his story with writer Winnie Yeung in hopes it will bring greater understanding of what's happening in Syria. 

Homes was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction and was a contender on Canada Reads 2018, when it was defended by Chuck Comeau.

Homes is for ages 12 and up.

​To Look a Nazi in the Eye by Kathy Kacer, with Jordana Lebowitz 

To Look a Nazi in the Eye is a nonfiction book about Jordana Lebowitz (right), who attended a war criminal trial in 2015. Kathy Kacer writes her story. (Second Story Press)

Jordana Lebowitz is a 19-year-old college student and the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. In ​To Look a Nazi in the Eyewritten by Kathy Kacer, Lebowitz reflects on what it was like to attend the 2015 trial of Oskar Groening, known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz." Groening was accused of being complicit in the deaths of more than 300,000 Jews in Auschwitz and Lebowitz followed the court testimonies closely.

To Look a Nazi in the Eye is for ages 15 and up.

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