It can be difficult to explain to children the significance of Anzac Day in an age-appropriate way. However, there are some beautiful picture books and chapter books available which tell the story of Anzac Day, the ANZACS and the Dawn Service. Here’s a selection of books for kids from preschoolers to school aged kids to learn and appreciate the history of Anzac Day.
A Day to Remember
A Day to Remember by Jackie French and illustrated by Mark Wilson
This picture book by Jackie French focuses on the story of Anzac Day as well and Anzac traditions. This book provides details of past places that the ANZACs have fought as well as looking at present day in which they keep the peace and support the civilians in war-torn parts of the world. RRP $14.99. Ages 7 – 12.
An Anzac Tale
An Anzac Tale written by Ruth Starke and illustrated by Greg Holfield
With the outbreak of war in 1914, best friends Wally and Roy, and new mate Tom, are among the first to enlist. But their great adventure soon turns to disaster as they land in Anzac Cove as part of the Gallipoli campaign. RRP $19.99. Ages 7+
ANZAC Biscuits by Phil Cummings & Owen Swan
This is a touching story of a family torn apart by war but brought together through the powerful simplicity of ANZAC Biscuits. RRP $24.99. Ages 4+.
Anzac Ted by Belinda Landsberry
Anzac Ted is the powerful, poignant story of a little boy’s teddy bear that was passed down to him from his grandfather. Battered, torn, missing an eye and an ear, he might look scary but he’s got a great story to tell. For Anzac Ted went to war, keeping soldiers company and giving them comfort. And while he never won a medal, and now doesn’t even attract a single vote at classroom Toy Shows, if only everyone looked a little deeper. RRP $19.99. Ages 5+
Digger written by Mike Dumbleton and illustrated by Robin Cowcher
A beautiful and heartwarming story for younger kids, this picture book tells the story of one toy kangaroo, one Australian soldier and two girls, in two countries on opposite sides of a world at war. It’s a poignant reminder of the casualties of war and a tribute to the French schoolchildren who once tended the graves of Australian soldiers who died in the heroic battle for Villers-Bretonneux in France in April 1918.
Gallipoli by Kerry Greenwood & Annie White
It was 1914 and Dusty and Bluey were headed for adventure. They were Anzacs, members of the Australian Light Horse, on their way to the Great War. The story of Dusty and Bluey is one of family and friendship. It is the story of Gallipoli. RRP$24.99. Ages 4+.
Meet the ANZACS
Meet the ANZACs by Claire Saxby & illustrated by Max Berry
A picture book series about the extraordinary men and women who have shaped Australia’s history, including our brave Anzac soldiers. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand troops who landed at Gallipoli in World War I. The name is now a symbol of bravery and mateship. RRP $24.99. Ages 5+.
Midnight written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frane Lessac
A new narrative nonfiction picture book from the award-winning duo Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac. A foal is born at midnight, on the homestead side of the river. Coal black. Star ablaze. Moonlight in her eyes. On October 31, 1917, the 4th and 12th Regiments of the Australian Light Horse took part in one of the last great cavalry charges in history. Among the first to leap the enemy trenches was Lieutenant Guy Haydon riding his beloved mare, Midnight. This is their story. RRP $27.95. Ages 5+
My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day
My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day written by Catriona Hoy and illustrated by Benjamin Johnson
This book is a great introduction for kids to learn the significance of Anzac Day from the point of view of another child. A little girl accompanies her dad to the pre-dawn Anzac Day service with her father to watch her grandfather march in the parade. It’s a great explanation of why we commemorate Anzac Day and what it means to Australians. RRP $16.99. Ages 6 – 9
Simpson and his Donkey
Simpson and his Donkeyby Mark Greenwood & illustrated by Frane Lessac
Read this poignant account of John Simpson Kirkpatrick and how he and his donkey, Duffy, rescued over 300 men during the campaign at Gallipoli. Backed by detailed research, the text includes a brief biography of John Simpson Kirkpatrick, details of his work at Gallipoli and also the little known story of how, without realising, he rescued his childhood friend. RRP $29.99. Ages 7 – 9.
A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy
A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy by Libby Hathorn and illustrated by Phil Lesne
Beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated, this is a lovely picture book. It describes the story of an Australian soldier fighting in the Battle of the Somme who finds a skinny dog and decides to adopt him. However, it emerges that the dog is actually owned by Jacques, a French orphan. RRP $24.99. Ages 3-6.
The Anzac Puppy
The Anzac Puppy written by Peter Millett and illustrated by Trish Bowles
In the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, in the middle of a war, a puppy was born. This fictional story was based on the story of Freda, a Harlequin Great Dane and mascot of the NZ Rifle Brigade during World War 1. The Anzac Puppy is a simple story about the reality of war, hardship, friendship and love.. RRP $15.99. Ages 6+
The Poppy by Andrew Plant
Stunningly illustrated in over 70 paintings, The Poppy is the true story of one of Australia’s greatest victories, and of a promise kept for nearly a century. On Anzac Day, 1918, a desperate night counter-attack in the French village of Villers-Bretonneux became one of Australia’s greatest victories. A bond was forged that night between France and Australia that has never been broken. Villers-Bretonneux is ‘The town that never forgets’. What was achieved that terrible night – and what happened after – is a story that, likewise, Australians should never forget. RRP $26.95. Ages 9+
The Silver Donkey
The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett
One bright spring morning in the woods of France, a soldier, blinded by the war, is found by two young French sisters. In return for their kindness, the soldier tells the sisters marvellous tales, each story connected to the keepsake he carries in his pocket- a perfect, tiny silver donkey. RRP $19.95. Ages 11+
Soldier Boy by Anthony Hill
This book for older readers traces the remarkable story of Jim Martin, the youngest Anzac. He was just 14 when he sailed from Melbourne on the troopship Berrima, bound ultimately for Gallipoli RRP $19.99. Ages 8+