A Children’s Book for Remembrance Day

When we gather to worship on the Sunday before Remembrance Day, we will also gather to honour and remember those people who gave their lives in the Great War, more than 65,000 of them, and those that were added to their number during the Second World War. We will also remember those that served in the Korean War,and Afghanistan.

In worship we will have special prayers, poppies will be worn and wreaths may be laid, the names of those who fought and died in the wars may be read out loud, we will stand for two minutes of silence and we will experience the mourning and rising of Last Post and Reville. All of these visible and solemn ways of honouring those who gave their lives in service to our country also help our children to see and hear about a time before they were born. Through these activities we keep the memory of loved ones and our commitment to peace alive. For children who may only rarely hear these meaningful stories the act of remembrance can be profound.

We wonder how to tell the stories of war and the desire for peace in ways that are appropriate for our children. When we come to the children’s time it becomes a challenge. How much do we say? What should we say? And what shouldn’t we say. How do we find the right balance between too little and too much for our children to take in. In speaking with the children we need to be honest and use words that are clearly understood. Children do need to hear something of the cost of war without focusing on the gory details. It is appropriate to use the words ‘dead’ and ‘died’, rather than using words like ‘passed on’, ‘gone to sleep’, or ‘have gone to the other side’ which only cause confusion and unintended fears in our children. They need to have their honest questions answered sensitively and not ignored. What will you say? The age of the children in your church will help decide how much detail you want to go into, and what the focus of your message might be.

If you are looking for a good children’s book to read aloud during your children’s time, in the Sunday School, or during a mid-week children’s gathering I would like to suggest the book, A Poppy Is to Remember by Heather Patterson (Scholastic, 2004). In explaining the symbol of the poppy, this thoughtfully written book reminds us of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae who wrote the famous poem, In Flanders Fields, and prompts its listeners to remember those who served in the wars, those who cared for the injured, and those remained at home. The book concludes by highlighting the poppy as a symbol of peace. The book is brief, with helpful pictures, and includes the text of the famous poem written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae (which you can read along with the book’s text if you wish), and a brief history of Remembrance Day in Canada.

If you would like a copy of A Poppy is To Remember, you can buy it in the children’s section of your local bookstore (Chapters and Indigo).

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