By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
It’s strange to admit but, more so than Halloween, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the traditions on Remembrance Day with childhood memories of my mother starting her Christmas baking, writing the first Christmas cards, and watching the Ottawa service on CBC from the little black and white tv in our cozy Cape Breton kitchen. Her father was a stretcher bearer in the Black Watch in World War I so the day was often sprinkled with stories from my mom’s childhood, which I loved.
As Remembrance Day approaches, I find myself thinking weighing its many themes to make them relatable for children. War is complicated. And today, as Canada faces the harsh realities of its outrageously damaging decision-making with residential schools, we realize that governments make mistakes – big ones. War needs to be viewed from many angles and there is no better way to view a topic from many angles than through stories.
As parents we want to protect our children from the realities that create war but if your child has an appetite to learn about these topics, there is an opportunity for guidance. This November, consider the possibility of sharing a story that makes Remembrance Day more meaningful. Grandparents can also be part of the experience by being read to on the phone or over FaceTime (thank you Covid, for shining a light on this idea).
Here are some book suggestions that you can share with your kids (and their grandparents!) at bedtime:
• I Survived by Lauren Tarshis (Grades 2-5). You’ll find these books in libraries, your child’s classroom or in the book orders that come home each month and for good reason. Written by Lauren Tarshis, these books are incredibly researched and well-written. They place a child, usually between 9-13, in the centre of a disaster, giving the young reader first-hand insight into the courage, decision-making, and struggles of that particular event. You’ll find “I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbour”, “I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944” and countless other titles around natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions and floods. If this sounds depressing, maybe don’t read them all back-toback, and definitely weigh out your child’s interest and maturity level as you navigate the topics.
• Sink or Swim by Steve Watkins (10–14-year old’s). Inspired by the true story of young boy who ended up serving on a war ship in World War II, this story can be a bit graphic but is beautifully written and explores the idea of sacrifice and courage, among many other topics. Rich talking points for a curious child. We read this story chapter by chapter at bedtime over the phone to my son’s grandparents, who couldn’t wait to resolve the cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter. It is recommended reading in many junior high schools. Again, discretion is advised.
• Pax by Sara Pennypacker (11+). This book is a bit different. It’s the story of a boy and his connection to a pet fox that he is forced to abandon during war time. Again, some big topics but a gorgeous journey.
To all veterans, including my husband, who have served their country, thank you!
Christina Forgeron is a passionate educator, brave entrepreneur and imperfect mother who runs Bolster Family Educational Support out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Christina mission is to “bolster” parents who value education and want their children to be competent, confident, and compassionate students and citizens. She does this through coaching services and through her online community, BolsterHub, where parents are supported by each other as well as educational experts.
For more information, reach out to Christina: email@example.com or visit her website at bolsterfamilies.com