Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor those who have died in American Wars. This can be a difficult concept for students to grasp, but picture books can help. I’ve pulled together a few picture books about Memorial Day and honoring the heroes who have fought for our country.
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Picture Books about Memorial Day
A Day for Rememberin’: The First Memorial Day by Leah Henderson
A Day for Rememberin’ is a powerful picture book for upper elementary students. Many of us don’t really know much about the origin of Memorial Day. Eli, the 10-year-old son of formerly enslaved parents, tells the story of the first Memorial Day on May 1, 1865. He shares how his family joins the march to sing for all those who gave their lives fighting for freedom during the Civil War.
A Day for Rememberin’ is a beautifully illustrated book that also includes archival photos, author’s note and timeline in the back matter.
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Pink and Say is another read aloud for older students. It is about the friendship between two boys of different races whose ending will definitely bring tears to your eyes. This story, about how a young black soldier rescues a white soldier, opens readers’ eyes to the injustices of slavery and the senselessness of war.
While Pink and Say isn’t about Memorial Day, it does share about the Civil War. Polacco truly defines the importance of accepting other people’s differences even under hardships such a s war.
Twenty-One Steps by Jeff Gottesfeld
Twenty-One Steps is a fantastic book for upper-elementary students. An authentic and real look at the guards who protect and honor America’s fallen. This book will not disappoint. It provides a powerful message, informative text, lifelike images, and great vocabulary.
The Poppy Lady by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh
The Poppy Lady tells the story of Moina Belle Michael, who established the Flanders Field Memorial Poppy as a universal symbol of tribute and support for veterans and their families. The story goes on to tell how Moina continued to honor and support veterans, war widows and orphans.
The Poppy Lady is an inspiring and engaging book that shows a true-life example of a woman who dedicated her life to serving others.
The Wall by Eve Bunting
In The Wall, a young boy and his father visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. But his isn’t just a sightseeing visit. The boy and his father are looking for the boy’s grandfather. As they search for his name, he sees different people approach the wall. He notices a wounded veteran, an elderly couple, a group of school girls and all the different mementos left by friends and family members.
Besides honoring the veterans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, The Wall also reminds us of what a profound loss it is to family and friends.
America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven
America’s White Table is set in many mess halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing or held captive in the line of duty. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit.
As a special gift to her Uncle John, Katie and her sisters are asked to help set the white table for dinner. As their mother explains the significance of each item placed on the table, Katie comes to understand and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that her uncle and each member of the Armed Forces and their families, may be called to give.
What picture books about Memorial Day will you read aloud to your class?
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