Thank a veteran, buy a poppy, say a prayer, read an enlightening book- remember to observe Veterans Day this Tuesday. Two years ago, my then six and seven year old children came home from school early in November and reported that they had made cards for veterans. I asked what their cards looked like or said. Both children had written "Thank You," but one had colored a flag on his card and the other had colored puppies. Puppies? It seems she thought it was Veterinarians Day. Obviously, we needed to do some explaining. The history of Veterans Day and how it developed from Armistice Day is really quite interesting, but maybe too much information for the four to eight year old set. Here are two books which are great for them: Veterans Day by Marlene Targ Brill and Veterans Day by Jacqueline S. Cotton. A nice feature of the latter is that it suggests ways to honor vets. Also appropriate for this age group is Eve Bunting's picture book The Wall. With moving text and simple yet powerful illustrations by Ronald Himler, The Wall tells the story of a boy and his father who visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. to search for the name of the boy's grandfather. I actually think this book could be put to good use in a classroom up to fifth grade.
For older children and young adults, there are more interesting and thought provoking books about wars than I could list here. Two that I know are frequently used in middle schools in my area are Walter Dean Myers' Fallen Angels, a young adult coming of age novel set during the Vietnam War, and Paul Fleischman's Bull Run, which recreates the first great battle of the Civil War from a variety of points of view. One nonfiction suggestion for readers ten and up is The Tuskegee Airmen, Black Heroes of World War II by Jacqueline Harris.