11 November 2018 observes the centenary of Armistice Day, marking 100 years since the end of fighting in World War 1. Books can be a brilliant way to ignite interest in and teach children about great moments in history, so we’ve put together a list of fictional and factual books to help young readers understand the significance and importance of this day.
For Readers 5-8
Winnie’s Great War, by Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhut, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, published by Hodder Children’s Books
Come on a heart-warming adventure, inspired by the journey undertaken by an extraordinary bear called Winnie during World War One.
From her early days with her mama in the Canadian forest, to her travels with the Veterinary Corps across the country and overseas, Winnie has a remarkable wartime story to tell. And when she meets a little boy called Christopher Robin Milne in London Zoo, he loves her so much that he names his teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh in her honour.
Click here for your chance to win 1 of 5 copies (closes 30th November 2018)
Stubby: A True Story of Friendship, by Michael Foreman, published by Andersen Press
Stubby was a brave soldier, a loyal friend… and a dog. From an army training camp to the trenches of France, this is the incredible true story of a dog who served bravely in the First World War, sniffing out gas attacks, catching spies and winning the hearts of his fellow soldiers. The astounding true story of Sergeant Stubby is brought to life for today’s children by multi award-winning storyteller Michael Foreman.
DKfindout! World War One, published by DK
From pre-war Europe to women in wartime, discover fascinating facts about all aspects of World War I. Now, with the 100th Anniversary of the end of the war being commemorated, help your kids to discover what caused the conflict and what the most important battles were. DKfindout! World War I will satisfy any child who is eager to learn more about one of history’s biggest conflicts.
Discover key World War I facts and hear from veterans first-hand. Packed with key facts, fun quizzes and incredible images of World War I, DKfindout! World War I is a must have for budding historians.
An Anty-War Story, by Tony Ross, published by Andersen Press
An eye-opening allegory about the optimism and vulnerability of ordinary people during the First World War from master-storyteller Tony Ross.
The only ant with his own name, Douglas is born into the wonderful Antworld and dreams of one day joining the line to hunt out food. But his superiors have other plans for him: Douglas is to be a soldier. They tell him his job is all about parading, waving flags and wearing a uniform, but Douglas is about to discover that there is no glory in war.
Download the lesson plan here
Download a comparison guide for Stubby and An Anty-War
For Readers 8-12
Poppy Field, by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman, published by Scholastic
‘In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row’
Young Martens has always known the Poppy Field is important to his family. From a poor girl comforting a grieving soldier, to the unexpected meeting of strangers, to a father’s tragic death many decades after treaties were signed, war has shaped them all in profound ways. It is their history as much as any nation’s, and the poppies have blown alongside for as long as they can remember.
A new wartime classic from two legends of children’s literature. As the world commemorates the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman have teamed up with the British Legion to tell a new story inspired by the history of the poppy and John McCrae’s moving poem.
The Silver Hand, by Terry Deary, published by Bloomsbury Education
This thrilling adventure from bestselling ‘Horrible Histories’ author Terry Deary, brings the closing days of the First World War to life. Perfect for fans of Michael Morpurgo and John Boyne.
It’s 1918 and the Great War is entering its final phase. In northern France, young Aimee has just found out that her mother is part of a spy network working with the British. After reluctantly befriending Marius, a German boy who has been left behind by his countrymen, she must try to help him get back behind German lines while evading a traitor she has helped to discover.
This page-turning adventure sheds new light on the First World War and will have readers gripped from start to finish.
Goose Road, by Rowena House, published by Walker Books
A debut novel about one girl’s remarkable journey across France during WWI.
France 1916. Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. “I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won’t change either.” But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears… In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother’s flock of magnificent Toulouse geese.
Valentine Joe, by Rebecca Stevens, published by Chicken House
Rose’s grandad takes her on a trip to Ypres, Belgium to visit the graves of those who died in the Great War. It’s the day before Valentine’s Day, but Rose can sense the shattered old city beneath the chocolate-box new. And it seems that it can sense her too. When she goes up to her room that night, she hears the sound of marching feet and glimpses from her window a young soldier on his way to the front line …
Stay Where You Are And Then Leave, by John Boyne, published by Puffin (IWM Anniversary Edition)
An unforgettable story from the bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight – but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission.
The Skylark’s War, by Hilary McKay, published by Macmillan Children’s Books
Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September – boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer. When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war?
Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery, published by Sweet Cherry Publishing
Anne’s daughter Rilla is just fifteen when her childhood ends. With the outbreak of WWI, there’s no time for mooning over handsome Kenneth Ford. Instead Rilla’s days are spent caring for a war-baby and knitting socks for soldiers in Europe. Among them is her brother Jem, while sensitive Walter struggles with his choice to stay home as the war most believed would be over by Christmas drags on for years. And all the while Jem’s Little Dog Monday awaits his master’s return.
First World War Picture Book, published by Usborne
Travel back in time with this fascinating information book, jam-packed with information, maps and photographs taken during the First World War. Uncover the key events of the war, the military strategies that were employed on both sides and what life was like for soldiers in the trenches with over 100 photographs and artefacts on every page. Includes internet links to recommended websites to find out more about the war. Published in association with Imperial War Museums.
Walter Tull’s Scrapbook, by Michaela Morgan, published by Lincoln Children’s Books
The inspirational true story of Walter Tull’s life is vividly presented as a scrapbook, drawing on photographs, documents and records of his life. Born in Kent, in 1888, Walter Tull became not just the first black British professional outfield football player – for Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town – but also the first black officer in the British Army. His leadership and courage in the trenches of the First World War won him a recommendation for a Military Cross that was never awarded because of his skin colour. Discover his life story, from his childhood in an orphanage, through his footballing years, to his eventual tragic death, aged 29, on the Somme. The legacy of Walter Tull lives on.
Michaela Morgan has written over a hundred books for children. She has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Award, been an International Reading Association Children’s Choice and won a United Kingdom Reading Association award.
For Readers 12+
Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books (Anniversary edition)
A stunning new edition of this modern classic of World War One, featuring a new introduction by the author and insightful testimonies from soldiers, to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
Told in the voice of Private Tommo Peaceful, the story follows twenty-four hours at the front, and captures his memories of his family and his village life – by no means as tranquil as it appeared. Full of vivid detail and engrossing atmosphere, leading to a dramatic and moving conclusion, Private Peaceful is both a compelling love story and a deeply moving account of the First World War.
Read an extract here
A stunning novel from a Carnegie-winning author. In 1915 a group of teenagers from very different backgrounds meet for an idyllic picnic, but the war across the Channel is proving increasingly impossible to ignore, and all too soon they will be engulfed by The Great War.
50 Things You Should Know About The First World War, by Jim Eldrige, published by QED Publishing
50 Things You Should Know About the First World War is the perfect introduction to a tragic chapter in world history, published to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
By the time the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, 65 million men from around the world had joined up to fight. Around 9 million of them died – many of those under the age of 30.
This title explains, in chronological order, why events unfolded, who the key figures were for the Allies and the Central Powers, how devastation spread on all fronts and the impact of the war on the lives of everyone.
Born in London in 1944, Jim Eldridge left school at 16 and held a variety of jobs before eventually training as a teacher. He became a full-time scriptwriter and author in 1978 and has since written over 90 books with sales totaling over three million copies. The author of the best-selling My Story history series, published by Scholastic, he lives in London.
War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo, published by Egmont
Michael Morpurgo’s stunning wartime classic, perfect for introducing young readers to the realities of the First World War.
In the deadly chaos of the First World War, one horse witnesses the reality of battle from both sides of the trenches. Bombarded by artillery, with bullets knocking riders from his back, Joey tells a powerful story of the truest friendships surviving in terrible times. One horse has the seen the best and the worst of humanity. The power of war and the beauty of peace. This is his story.
War Horse was adapted by Steven Spielberg as a major motion picture with Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The National Theatre production opened in 2007 and has enjoyed successful runs in the West End and on Broadway.
Look out for more books by Michael Morpurgo including In the Mouth of the Wolf, Friend or Foe, Waiting for Anya, King of the Cloud Forests and An Eagle in the Snow.