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 is written 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 is 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 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+.
The Anzac Puppy
The Anzac Puppy is 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+
Anzac Ted is written 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 is 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 is written by Kerry Greenwood & illustrated by 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+.
Loyal Creatures is written by Morris Gleitzman. They were loyal creatures, the men and horses of the Australian Light Horse, but war doesn’t always pay heed to loyalty. This is the powerful story of a 16-year-old volunteer and his horse in World War One and the journey towards his own kind of bravery. Like many of his mates from the bush, Frank Ballantyne is keen to join the grand adventure and do his bit. Specially as a chest full of medals might impress the currently unimpressed parents of his childhood sweetheart. So Frank ups his age and volunteers with his horse Daisy … and his dad.RRP $19.99. Ages 10+.
Meet the ANZACS
Meet the ANZACs is written by Claire Saxby & illustrated by Max Berry. The “Meet the..” is 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 is written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frane Lessac This narrative nonfiction picture tells the story of a foal 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 is 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
The Poppy by Andrew Plant is 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+
Remembering for Peace
Written by University of Newcastle education researcher Dr Heather Sharp, Remembering for Peace follows the adventures of Emma and Ryan as they travel along the Remembrance Trail in France and Belgium, 100 years after the end of World War I. With a focus on the Remembrance Trail, children reading this book will learn about areas Australians fought in during the war and understand the lasting impact conflict has on people and on the environment. RRP $20. Ages 10+.
Roly the Anzac Donkey
Glyn Harper’s Roly, the Anzac Donkey follows Richard Henderson and his donkey Roly, who together saved many WW1 soldiers. Illustrated by Jenny Cooper, it marks the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. Based on real people and events, this is the heartwarming story of Richard Alexander Henderson, a soldier in the New Zealand Medical Corps, and the donkey he discovers wandering and hungry on a Gallipoli road. Richard and Roly form a strong friendship and, working together, they courageously save the lives of many wounded soldiers. RRP $16.99. Ages 6 -9.
The Silver Donkey
The Silver Donkey is written 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+
A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy
A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy is written 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 Soldier’s Gift
The Soldier’s Gift written by Tony Palmer and illustrated by Jane Tanner is a moving story of one family’s courage and endurance during the First World War, the terrible losses at Gallipoli and a time that changed Australia forever. Emily knows her big brother, Tom, wants to leave Hillside Farm and go overseas to the war, but Emily doesn’t want him to go. RRP 16.99. Age 9+.
Simpson and his Donkey
Simpson and his Donkey is written by 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.
Soldier Boy by Anthony Hill is a book for older readers. It 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+
Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero
Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero written by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher and illustrated by local illustrator Lillian Webb is a book worth getting. The story of Charlie Ryan was discovered through interactions between students at Thornton Public School and students at the Turkish school TED Mersin College. The Turkish students asked the Australian students if they knew about Charlie Ryan, an Australian medic from country Victoria. This inspired local authors and historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher to research Charlie’s story. This book captures the remarkable story of Charlie Ryan. When this young doctor named Charlie Ryan graduated from university, he went looking for adventure by joining the Turkish army. Forty years later, as the head of the Australian Army Medical Corps, he landed at Gallipoli to fight his former friends. His previous association with the Turkish Army led to a most extraordinary event. RRP $28. Ages 9+
When We Were Two
In this book written by Robert Newton, Dan and his brother Eddie take off for the coast, in search of their lost mother, in search of a better life . . . but it’s a long road they face and Dan must use all his wits to get them there in one piece. When they are taken under the wings of a group of would-be soldiers marching over the mountains to join up for the Great War, Dan and Eddie’s journey becomes something quite unexpected. The experiences they share will shape their future beyond recognition. RRP $17.99. Ages 13+
You might also like:
In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.