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To mark the centenary of the end of World War One, 2018 we have gathered together a selection of books, fiction and non-fiction, new titles and old ones, for a wide range of ages, to reflect the tragedy of the First World War. We will refresh the list on a regular basis as new titles are published.
Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2018 |One of our 2018 Books of the Year | Award winning Hilary McKay tells a captivating and deeply moving story of three young people growing up in the years before and during World War One. How their lives were totally changed by the War, how what really happened to the soldiers could never be talked about and how a girl like Clarry suddenly had opportunities because of the war are all touched on in a story that is also about universal adolescent relationships and the timeless concerns of being a teenager. Following their mother’s death at her birth, Clarry and her older brother Peter live a joyless life with their gloomy father. The pair live for their summer holidays in Cornwall with their grandparents which they share with their older cousin Rupert. Here, the trio are free to be themselves and to begin to break away from the constraints of family expectations. When war is declared Rupert enlists: his family is horrified and Clarry and Peter are left trying to work out where he might be, how they themselves should react to the war and, above all, whether Rupert is safe. Hilary McKay has a rare gift for novels about families and their interplay. Here, she weaves her story round one of the most powerful backdrops in history. And she does so with the lightest of touch which makes her history come alive. The Costa Judges said: ‘Chime, resonance and sparkle – a truly great read.’
Shortlisted for the Children's Book Awards 2019, Books for Older Readers Category | Interest Age 8-10 Reading Age 8 | World War One remains a subject of fascination for readers of all ages, but Tom Palmer finds an original way in to the topic in this poignant new story. Lily is a keen fell runner, though she’s fed up of coming in as runner up in races. A visit to her grandparents reveals a surprise: her great-grandfather ran on the fells too. His experiences are recounted vividly in his diary, both his runs in his beloved Cumbria and his experiences as a soldier, recruited to run between positions on the front line, carrying crucial information to the allies. Their shared experiences form a powerful connection, and help Lily to understand herself better, and also to help her grandma when she needs it most. Today and yesterday are seamlessly woven together in a story that will move readers in lots of different ways.
March 2018 Book of the Month Beautifully illustrated and with a touching rhyming text this is another excellent book to give young children a real sense of World War One. Lily, Ben and Ray are childhood friends, spending long summer days playing together in the fields and woods round their homes. They grow up into war however, Ben and Ray sign up leaving Lily at home. Soon she is too at the front however as a nurse at Passchendaele. There she is reunited with her old friend Ben. The story gently demonstrates the extraordinary courage and resilience shown by ordinary people in such a terrible situation, skilfully bringing the past to life through personal stories. There are echoes of the war poets in the text and the illustrations have a timeless feel. ~ Andrea Reece
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | May 2017 Book of the Month | This deeply moving story perfectly conveys the devastating impact of the First World War both on those who took part and those they left behind. Though the story is fiction, many of those who feature were real people, gardeners at what became known after their deaths as the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The story is narrated by Alfie, who is too young to sign up, and conveyed through his letters to and from the young men who worked alongside him in the gardens and who joined the forces. The letters describe simply but vividly the realities of life at home and at the front, optimism and enthusiasm giving way to shock and grief. We particularly feel for Will who was so kind and gentle, and whose absence is mourned by animal as well as human friends. Beautifully told and illustrated, this is a book for children and adults to treasure. Line of Fire by Barroux gives another first-hand account of the war in words and pictures. ~ Andrea Reece In 2013 the Imperial War Museum recognised Heligan's Thunderbox Room as a 'Living Memorial' to 'The Gardeners of Heligan House'. A Song for Will is published in partnership with The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
July 2016 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 World War One didn’t just affect those involved in the fighting but those left at home, and subsequent generations too as this novel shows. Charlie joins up, underage, in a rush of excitement and tragically so does his even younger brother. His experience of the trenches and the Battle of the Somme is vividly described, though the facts are well known now this feels a very personal account. Charlie survives, but changed by his experiences. Two images stick in the mind: fruit cakes sent to the soldiers by mothers and wives at home; Charlie years later pacing the streets at night unable to escape the memories of the trenches. Charlie’s great-grandsons have a part to play too, and through them we see how even a century on, the effects of the war are still felt. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 12+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of super-readable short fiction by some of the very best children’s authors and illustrators in the UK. Each title has a host of unique accessibility features to offer cracking reads to more children including reluctant and struggling readers and those with dyslexia or visual stress. Here at Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting the best of their new and backlist titles to recommend to you. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
It will seem odd when reading this book that the author enjoyed writing it the most of all the 90 or so he has written so far. That’s because it’s the one that most touched a nerve with him, that he was most passionate about and as a consequence he lost himself completely in it while writing. The story of a young farm boy who took on the nightmare of the trenches in the first world war is essential reading not just for a child starting out in life but for parents of any age. It’s a brilliant story about childhood, about growing up too young, it’s about loss and friendships and love and war. The author’s anger at the appalling treatment of young men in the story is clear and the hope is that the British government will realise their wrong-doing and pardon ALL those young men whose story this was written for.
Shortlisted for Children’s Book Award 2016, Books for Older Readers category Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2014 The Costa Judges described Morpurgo's novel, which begins in May 1915, as "a captivating, utterly transporting war novel that lives on powerfully in the memory". | A beautiful and captivating tour de force of family, love, war and forgiveness, this is a major new novel from the author of War Horse and Private Peaceful, Michael Morpurgo and is set in World War One on the Isles of Scilly. A tale in which things that were lost may still wash up, once again, on the shore. As ever with Michael it is always a story of family and stories.
Winner of the 2016 Historical Association’s ‘Young Quill’s Award for Historical Fiction’ (primary school category) | One of our Books of the Year 2015 | | The stories of the many animals involved in the First World War make a great way to explain to children the sacrifices made by the soldiers: the animals had no choice but to take part, had no nationality, and children can quickly identify with them. Flo is a Mercy dog, one of those trained to find the wounded and dying on battlefields and sent out with medical supplies. Her story is told in rhyme, building through repetition ( like This is the house that Jack Built) from ‘This is Flo, a hero of war/A mercy dog that saved lives’ until the full story emerges, of pilots shot down and then saved by the Medical Corps, with the help of a messenger pigeon, a donkey and of course Flo. The illustrations are full of details to inspire discussion, and a moving story of peace and reconciliation emerges.
Even as the First and Second World Wars get further away in history, they remain a subject of fascination for the young, and no wonder: the conflict brought out very best and the very worst in mankind. Paul Dowswell recounts some of the most dramatic events from the wars in this excellent collection, giving readers first-hand insight through the stories of the individuals involved. Some of those featured include Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson who in 1916 shot down a German airship, destroying for ever their myth of invincibility; Mata Hari, the Dutch born dancer who is remembered as one of the most famous spies ever; and Vasily Zaitsev, Stalingrad’s legendary Russian sniper. With maps, illustrations and photographs too, this is a fascinating book. ~ Andrea Reece
How the First World War affected girls is excellently captured in this diary. Living a comfortable life in the country where she is regarded as a tomboy on account of her love of riding, Daffy has never had to work in her life. But, with the outbreak of war, things begin to change. It is 1916 and Daffy learns some basic skills in the local village hall and then signs up for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. Soon she is in France and right in the midst of the action. The addition of photographs brings the experience alive while a useful timeline gives some of the key dates of the First World War. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Best-selling Jacqueline Wilson’s 100th book is a cracking story set just before the First World War with one of Wilson’s feistiest girls yet at its heart. Opal Plumstead is a clever, bookish girl with a Scholarship place at a posh girl’s school. When her father commits a very foolish crime (to cover his disappointment at having his book rejected by a publisher) he is sent to prison and Opal’s life is turned upside down. Now she must work at the Fairy Glen sweet factory rather than study. The future looks bleak but in fact it is the beginning of a new chapter for Opal. Meeting Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragettes shows her the new opportunities for women that are on the horizon. And she falls in love…When everything is thrown into turmoil by the war, Opal has her share of grief but finds there are new horizons waiting for her afterwards. ~ Julia Eccleshare ***And for a fun-filled book perfect for taking on your summer holidays have a look at Jacqueline Wilson's Happy Holidays, packed full of stories, activities and puzzles!
Megan Rix adds a new title to her much-loved stories about the bravery of animals in extreme situations. Set in the First World War, this tells the story of a very special friendship between a dog and a cat. Sammy is a rescue puppy and Mouser is a fearsomely brave grey tabby cat. Like other animals at the time, the two are sent out from England to the trenches where they are in the front line of the action. Together, and making more friends wherever they go, Sammy and Mouser endure the hardship of the constant gun fire. How the two survive is an exciting and touching story.
Shortlisted for the 2015 Red House Children's Book Award Two elephants and an old Border collie are the stars of Megan Rix’s wonderfully heart-warming new animal story. It’s 1917 and as the First World War rages, Cullen’s Circus is forced to close. With Albert their keeper gone, Shanti is forcibly parted from her calf Tara in a heart-wrenching scene. But Harvey the collie won’t leave the little elephant and the two set out to find Shanti. The animals are real characters, their loyalty and bravery in stark contrast to some – though by no means all – of the humans. Tara and Harvey’s journey feels completely credible and there won’t be a dry eye in the house for the final chapters. There are cameo appearances for Beatrix Potter, Elgar and Houdini, but the story – as with all Megan Rix’s books – belongs to the animals. ~ Andrea Reece
'Lest we forget'
It is 100 years since the end of WW1 and even though there are now no people alive today who experienced it first-hand, its impact on the world is still apparent today.
Throughout the anniversary years of WW1 there have been a lot of books published for children, and WW1 appears more prominently in the school curriculum, so we will be selecting our favourites, both fiction and non-fiction. We hope it will inspire children never to forget the sacrifices made by their forbears.
World War One, WW1, The Great War, 1914-1918, was on a scale previously unknown. Millions of lives were lost and vast areas of land destroyed. It was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, on 28th June 1914, in Sarajevo.
Described as the First World War, because it involved countries from every inhabited continent in the World although the vast majority of the fighting took place on what became known as the Western and Eastern fronts, on either side of Germany.
The Battle of the Somme (1st July - 18 November 1916) was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, as the British and French armies engaged the Germans in a devasting battle of attrition, leaving over one million dead and wounded on all sides.
The first World War paved the way for major economic, political and social change and the map of Europe was redrawn. In Britain the labour and suffrage movements grew in strength and support. Our Royal family cut ties with their German ancestry and took the new name of the House of Windsor.
After the armistice on 11 November 1918 The League of Nations was formed with the aim of ensuring such a terrible conflict would never again occur. But with battle-weakened countries unable to defend themselves and rise of fascism, the world was at war once again in 1939.
Barrington Stoke, the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers, has launched a special new website dedicated to literacy and World War One. Reading War is packed with rich content relating to the themes of two Barrington Stoke titles, Over the Line and Tilly’s Promise, with videos, teachers’ guides and stories, diaries and other reading materials created specially for the site. See www.readingwar.co.uk for more.