Nov 9, 2015

Some Veterans Day Recommendations

I paused this series of posts for PICTURE BOOK MONTH to take a brief weekend trip. It was a privilege to arrive at the airport on the morning of a VETERANS HONOR FLIGHT to Washington. I've admired and contributed to the organization since it began, but hadn't witnessed the operation in process, and walked right into that opportunity. The veterans, their escorts, and the amazing volunteers displayed contagious energy and excitement.
 These flights require an incredible amount of coordination and a complex support system. They proceed throughout the year, providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would otherwise never happen. 

Wednesday, November 11, is VETERANS DAY. Picture books are an ideal way to transport young readers into the past, distant or recent. They provide the perfect vehicle for increasing understanding, appreciation, and connections to the human side of wars and military service in general.

Several books related to this topic come to mind. I'll spotlight three that are especially suited to spark interest and increase understanding about this annual commemorative day. The first two are nonfiction, the last is fiction.

Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
Veterans Day was established as Armistice Day, calling for quiet recognition of the suffering and loss of life that ended "The Great War" on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918. A Splash of Red:The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, is written by Jennifer Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Since its release it has received numerous awards, including:

An ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book 

Horace Pippin, the subject of this remarkable biography, was a severely wounded survivor of the notorious trenches of World War One. Determination drove his recovery and eventually he resumed a life of painting.
This is a perfect example of a book that will appeal to and intrigue young readers while adults will find themselves wanting to learn even more of Pippin's story. 
On Goodreads I noted: "From its dedication "For the Veterans" to its vibrant, colorful illustrations, this biography of self-taught artist Horace Pippin inspires from cover to cover."

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009
Next up is another TRUE story, this one profiling the survivor of a recent war. NUBS: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle. Co-written by Major Brian Dennis and author Kirby Larson, with photos by Mary Nether, NUBS documents a remarkable Iraqi dog of war. 
On Goodreads I had this to say:
"Stories of survival, of veterans and those they have encountered in war, are (sadly) prolific. This one is a sure-fire winner for many reasons, not the least of which is the quality of the storytelling.

Here's a segue to those who wait at home. Their struggles are challenging enough for adults who have more life experience, world awareness, and other resources. Children, though, have less capacity to cope with the absence of loved ones who deploy for long periods, whether to combat zones or not. 

WAITING, created by Kevin Henkes, is fiction of the purest sort: utterly fantastic and achingly real at the same time. The entire comforting, hopeful story takes place on the windowsill while the world outside moves through the seasons. Each character has dreams, hopes, and varying moods, but these friends/family always have each other. This is a picture book that will touch adults as deeply as it does the youngest. 
"Characters and the setting appear to be as "simple" as the premise of this book. Don't be fooled, because even the youngest will quickly note the talented use of tiny line shifts, angles of perspective and positioning, and scenes outside the window. Waiting is not just an issue for the youngest set, it is ubiquitous at every life stage. The way we view those waiting passages in our lives determines more than the length or nature of those waits. And the company in which we wait matters even more."

These books are just a few of the many picture books that open windows to awareness of the human side to service, in times of war and peace. Add your own suggestions in comments, or find more excellent titles on  this post on the blog, READ ALOUD PICTURE BOOKS, here

On Veteran's Day another post about  picture books on this topic appeared on GROG (Group Blog) written by school librarian and maker-space innovator, Todd Burleson. Check out his great title suggestions here.


  1. Thanks for the reminder about WAITING -- I meant to put it on hold at the library ages ago but forgot!

  2. You're most welcome! Looks like those little characters were WAITING for you to hold them! (Couldn't resist...)


Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.