what we do

WW 2 for 8 year olds

Mom, can you tell me about the olden days?” Rachel asked as she brought her books to my desk.

Sure, honey, what part of the olden days do you want me to tell you about?”

1999“.

How do you know you’re no longer the youth of the present? Someone is referring to your wedding year as the ‘olden days’.

Perhaps one day, the notion of our “Book of Centuries” will sink in. You know, that timeline book printed from the Charlotte Mason internet site? There are a range of dates at the top and empty space at the bottom for you to write about important characters or events in that time period. There’s enough space for you to include the highlights for almost 5000 years.

1999 can’t be the olden days, because it’s one of the last pages in that book!

When I grew up, World War 2 certainly seemed like the olden days. It was long before I was born–a full thirty years before.

Only old men and women, with prune-like vertical creases, could be personally familiar with that topic. So World War 2 had to be a really long time ago.

Now that I’m nearing forty, I see that anyone actually ALIVE isn’t old. Not in the context of a history book anyway. Certainly not when you slot them into the 5000 years of written world history.

Since I was only hearing about war stories last Saturday from someone who was seven during World War 2, it can’t feel THAT long ago.

His stories, my son’s barber, came alive with his storytelling expression.

He was seven when they took the ship from Dvorstadt to Canada. He’d fallen in the ship and had breaks all over his body.

When he’d arrived in Canada, he’d started school not understanding the dynamics of the war. He’d simply understood that Hitler and his socialist party built the autostrada and successfully turned the German economy around.

Arriving in Canada a German boy, he was in for another part of the story: his responsibility for taking over the world and annihilating an ethnic race. Or at least he took on the anger from other school kids for his part. That’s a heavy burden for a grade 2 kid.

This is a part of World War 2 history I rarely hear; but it humanizes it for me, if I can be so bold to include these two words in the same sentence: humanize and war.

I’ll keep any comments about war to myself, as I’ve got no experience with it outside of the war of anger and hurt and fear in my own soul. Without turning on Netflix to terrorize my children with horrific stories, I’ll rather gently introduce them to experiences found in a few books we’ve found.

The Dear Canada series is written from the perspective of a girl. This is not ideal prose for my 8 year old, who would find it challenging enough to set it down quickly. Written in diary style, though, I can read it to her and have it easily understood.

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Our Canadian Girl has a series on a character named Margit. There are four books on this series and are easily read by an eight year old. My oldest daughter has read every book of the entire Canadian Girl collection, which includes many other historical Canadian topics.

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If I sold anything from the warmth of my home, it would be Usborne books. Usborne knows how to explain in-depth topics to age-specific readers, with loads of engaging photos. My eight year old daughter reads this one to her five year old brother.

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Kids Book of Canadian History” includes many topics, but shares a few pages of World War 2 history from the perspective of Canada’s presence.

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The Kids Book of Canada at War” also provides overviews of Canada’s involvement in wars across its history. These last two books provide overviews, which can be helpful as a basic introduction.

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By far, the best stories about any period of history come from real life stories. Nothing quite compares to the unabridged version of The Diary of Anne Frank. My eldest daughter was surprised how preoccupied Anne was with boys, or how occupied with frustration she was with her housemates, or not being able to peak outside the windows. Anne wasn’t in a constant state of fear as we might have thought.

We only learn what life was REALLY like when we talk with people who’ve been there, or share their stories in print.

My only real contribution to peace in the world can be sharing the peace I’ve been taught…let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

However, I find Mark Twain’s quote amusing:

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter“. Mark Twain

I’d be most interested in your favourite World War 2 resources…

5 thoughts on “WW 2 for 8 year olds

  1. Thanks for your book recommendations. I’ve been interested in the Dear Canada series. Do you find them accessible to boys? We are wrapping up a month centred on the peaceful resolution of conflict (which I hope to do every November). Two of the books we read are about WWII. I highly recommend “The Yellow Star”. “Terrible Things” is a little heavier and scarier, although my son (8) asked me to re-read it. Another book loosely about WWII (more about veterans) is by Eve Bunting; I think it’s called “The Wall”. We have a lot of Bunting’s books. I find that she brings difficult subjects to children in accessible ways.

    • Good question. I can’t honestly say as my youngest just just turned 5. But I wouldn’t think so. They are in the format of a diary entry and definitely come from a girl’s perspective. I will have to check your suggestions too! So many amazing narratives on WW2. Eve Bunting is a wonderful author, so I’m sure that’ll be great. She’d be a great grandmother!

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