Armistice or Remembrance Day November 11 was designated a holiday to recognize the ending of WW1 hostilities in Europe in 1918. Would that had been the end of all wars as people hoped back then, instead of the beginning of modern warfare. Here are four children's books that address the foolishness and horror of war.
Potatoes Potatoes by Anita Lobel is the story of two brothers who join different sides in a war despite the pleas of their mother who raises potatoes. The brothers become generals of their respective armies. The armies fight and fight and every once in a while the brothers would think of their mother and the delicious potatoes. Eventually the armies become hungry, and they come to the generals' mother's potato farm. Both armies storm the farm trampling the house and barn and animals and destroying the field. After the battle the generals see a woman lying in the field - their mother. The generals cry. The soldiers remember their mothers and begin to cry. The woman sits up and tells them that if they promise to fix everything and then go home to their mothers she will feed them potatoes from her cellar.
No Pretty Pictures by Anita Lobel is based on her experiences as a child during the Holocaust. In this intermediate grade book nominated for a National Book Award, Five-year-old Anita, her brother and their nanny move around hiding from the Nazis until the soldiers find them.
The Pig War by Betty Baker is based on a true story about the 1859 boundary dispute between the United States and Great Britain in the Pacific Northwest in which hostilities erupted over the slaughter of a pig. This out-of-print easy reader the author shows how the escalating competition - raising of flags, playing of loud patriotic songs, and so on, between the two neighboring forts leads to outright conflict. Another book with the same title, The Pig War by Mark Holtzen is a middle grade novel in which this war is investigated by the young protagonists.
The Conquerors by David McKee is a picture book about a small country that decides not to fight the invading army. Instead, they welcome them in and teach them their culture. The soldiers become friends with the people, play their games, eat their food, and listen to their stories. The general, worried about this, keeps replacing the soldiers, but the same thing keeps happening. When the general returns to his country, he is welcomed as a conquering hero, but then discovers that all the people there have adopted the culture of the conquered little country. And at night when he tucks his own son into bed, the only song he can remember is one he had learned in that little country. Find discussion questions for this book at Teach Peace Now.