Friday, 7 June 2013

War books for children

I am a New Zealand writer of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. My most recent book, published in April 2013, is called Anzac Day: the New Zealand story.

Anzac Day

Anzac Day, celebrated every year on April 25th, is a very special day for New Zealanders and Australians, although it is marked in other countries around the world too. What does Anzac stand for? Why do we mark Anzac Day on that particular day? When did the tradition of the dawn service start? Why do we wear the red poppy and play the Last Post? This book will tell you all these things and more, and it's crammed full of fascinating pictures and illustrations as well. You can read more about it here.

While I was researching for the Anzac Day book, and also for my next book which is a children's novel set in World War Two, I became interested in the whole subject of books on war written for children. Many of these are classics:

But there were others that I had never even heard of:

War is a subject of enduring fascination, horror and mystery. We are lucky that our children haven't had to live through a war, although many children around the world are not so fortunate. But the best of these books can help children (and grown-ups!) understand the nature of war: how things are not always black and white, how there can be different definitions of heroism and cowardice. Books about war can highlight acts of bravery, courage and loyalty, amongst those who served and fought in wars, as well as those who were caught up in them through no choice of their own.

I decided that I'd like to read more children's war books and post reviews of them online. Each review will contain a summary of the plot, relating it where possible to the New Zealand experience of war. I will also include information about the author, questions to think about, photographs or illustrations, and links to relevant websites and to other books that deal with similar aspects of war.

I hope you find these reviews interesting and helpful. If you're a teacher, you might find an idea for a book to read to your class. If you're a reader - child or adult - I hope they inspire you to hunt down a copy from a library or bookshop.

As George Santayana famously said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." These books contain stories that we need to remember, and should never forget.  

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