Below is a list of the best World War 1 books for children. Given the overcrowded curriculum, World War 1 isn't generally discussed much, especially compared to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War II... However, in case you do spend time talking about 'the Great War', the below books are great picks!
It can be quite helpful to briefly talk about WW1 before talking about WW2 to discuss the parallels, the lessons not learned, and how the end of the first war laid the seeds for the second. Below are some of the best World War 1 books for children-- covering the causes of the war, life on the battlefield, and civilian stories of life during the war.
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My Scrapbook of the First World
3rd grade - 7th grade
The War to End All Wars:
World War I
by Russell Freedman
6th grade - 9th grade
Below are some good chapter books sharing fictional or real stories set during World War I. If any of these books seem like a good
fit for you, click the title link for more information. Some of these connect to review pages by us and others connect directly to Amazon. Please note that if
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The Night Flyers
This American Girl History Mysteries book tells the story of Pam, whose father is a soldier fighting in WWI. While he is away, Pam is responsible for his business of raising homing pigeons. When a stranger with an accent moves into their North Carolina town, people think he's a German spy. When the stranger offers to buy Pam's pigeons and she refuses to sell, Pam grows suspicious when the birds start disappearing. (Grade 3-6)
When Christmas Comes Again: The World War I Diary of Simone Spencer
(Dear America historical fiction series)
Written in the form of a diary, this title is a "first person" account of life on the home front. When Simone's brother goes off to war, she wants to help in the war effort too, so she becomes a "Hello Girl" operating the army switch- boards on the Western Front. Provides an engaging look at the role of women in World War 1. (Grade 4-7)
Lord of the Nutcracker Men
Johnny, age 10, loves to play war with the soldiers his father made for him. Soon people he knows are sent away to war, including his father, whose letters home are upbeat at first, but then speak of the horrors. A confused young Johnny starts to believe his toy soldier battles are influencing the real war. "Big themes are hauntingly conveyed through gripping personal story and eerie symbolism." (Grade 5-8)
Truce: The Day Soldiers Stopped Fighting
On December 25 during WW1, troops defied orders and ceased fighting in honor of Christmas, even celebrating the holiday with their "enemies". This heartwarming tale reminds readers that beyond politics and fighting lie the seeds of brotherhood and love. This book is one of the most powerful World War 1 books for the middle grades. (Grade 5-8)
After the Dancing Days
At the end of WWI, Annie sees many wounded soldiers being wheeled off a train, headed to the hospital where her father works. She becomes friends with two soldiers in the hospital, and begins to wonder about the war, about her uncle's death, and about the future of her new soldier friends. A coming of age story about standing up for yourself and coming to terms with the full impact of war. (Grade 6-9)
Five teens in rural Scotland experience the traumas of WWI as they take part in different activities to support the war effort, including on the battlefield. Many social changes within civilian society take place too, especially for women. The madness and waste of war is obvious, and readers observe as the girl's young ideas about war change as they grow and mature. "Splendid historical fiction." (SLJ) (Grade 7+)
Thomas Peaceful lies about his age so he can fight in WWI, like many English do, and as he stands watch one night, he remembers his life up to that moment--a simple life as a poor farm boy in a happy family, with an older brother he idolizes. The contrasts between the world left behind and the daily horrors of battle make it one of the best World War 1 books for YA, both "shocking, honest, and unforgettable." (Booklist) (Grade 7+)
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