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I grew up near a large naval base. Many of my friends had dads who served in the navy – dads who were “out to sea” at least half the year. I remember how excited they were when the deployment was nearing its end!
I have a huge amount of respect for those who serve in the military and for the families that keep things running while their loved ones are away. (If you’re one of them, thank you! And if you’re looking for support, I highly recommend this blog. )
In America, we have a special holiday on November 11 to thank all military personnel who have served in past and present wars. It’s called Veterans Day.
I encourage you to use the holiday as an opportunity to reach out to veterans in your community. Talk with your learners about the sacrifices veterans have made for our country. Here are some books to help you do just that! ( For a printable list, just click here. )
Veterans Day, by Rebecca Rissman
guided reading level: F
This is a beautifully simple book about Veterans Day to read aloud to preschoolers or to have beginning readers read on their own.
Veterans Day, by Mir Tamim Ansary
approximate guided reading level: M
This book goes tells the history of Veterans Day without getting bogged down in details. The format is very neat and easy to follow, making this a great book for young readers who are learning to read nonfiction. I like that it has a table of contents, glossary, and index.
Veterans Day, by Rebecca Pettiford
guided reading level: J
This is a lovely, simple book – another great read aloud for preschoolers or a good book for beginning readers. If kids can read books like Henry and Mudge, this is a good level for them.
Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood, by Valerie Pfundstein
This book introduces children to veterans and helps them see that they may meet many veterans in their everyday life. In rhyming text, the narrator reveals the veterans who live and work in her neighborhood. I love that the back of the book reveals that these are all real people; we can see the official military photo of each person and learn more about how they served.
What Is Veterans Day? by Margot Parker
This is an older book (1986), but I highly recommend it because of its friendly illustrations and engaging text. I like the way this book uses conversation to teach about Veterans Day. Kids learn about the different branches of the military, the freedoms that our veterans have helped us keep, and even ways that other countries honor their veterans.
Tuesday Tucks Me In, by Luis Carlos Montalvan
In this true story, Luis suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury after his serve in Iraq. His service dog, Tuesday, helps him as he navigates the challenges of daily life in a big city. I love how this difficult subject is told from the perspective of a dog. The book is written so that young children will enjoy it, but I also recommend it for older listeners. It can begin an important discussion about how we can support our veterans after they return home.
I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it, but I’m so sad to report that I learned that the author died from an intentional overdose a few years after its publication. This is certainly a sobering reminder that our veterans need our love and support.
Granddad Bud, by Sharon Ferry
This book isn’t exceptional in either text or illustrations, but it’s a good teaching book. It explains exactly what Veterans Day is, why we celebrate it, and tells a story at the same time. I would use it as a read aloud through second grade.
Hero Mom, by Melinda Hardin
This is a simple book about military moms and the important work that they do. A lovely read aloud for kids in preschool and kindergarten. Also check out the related book, Hero Dad.
Windflyers, by Angela Johnson
This is a poetic story about the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American military pilots who fought in World War II. I love the topic, and Loren Long’s illustrations are (as always) fantastic. But I wish the book was less lyrical and more informative. It’s a great story, begging to be told, and I don’t feel that this book did the Tuskegee Airmen justice. It’s still worth finding and reading aloud to your learners.
Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion, by Jane Barclay
With simple text and beautiful illustrations, we see a boy and his grandfather having fun together as they prepare for a Remembrance Day parade (Canada’s Veterans Day). I love how the book touches on the seriousness of war in a way that’s appropriate for young listeners. Highly recommended!
Tucky Jo and Little Heart, by Patricia Polacco
This is an incredible (mostly) true story about a young Kentucky soldier serving in the South Pacific in World War II. He befriends a small village girl who has been traumatized after seeing her mother killed by the enemy. Kentucky Johnnie, or “Tucky Jo” as the girl calls him, spends his spare moments providing food for Little Heart and the rest of her village. Many years later, Tucky Jo and Little Heart meet again … and she returns his kindness. I recommend this for advanced listeners in first grade and beyond. Even middle schoolers will enjoy this read aloud.
Rags: Hero Dog of WWI, by Margot Theis Raven
This is the amazing, (mostly) true story of a stray dog who was adopted by an American soldier in Paris during World War I. Rags quickly became the combat unit’s mascot – but he did more than that. He rooted out rats from the trenches, delivered important messages across the battlefield, and warned of incoming shells – until the day both he and his master were injured in combat. I’m not a dog person (at all), but I really loved this book!
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