homeschool

Homeschool Resources for Teaching World War 2 to an Eight Year Old

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 young? Your child refers to your wedding year as the olden days.

When I grew up, World War 2 certainly seemed like the olden days. It was long before I was born. Actually, now that I think about it, World War 2 was only forty years before I was born.

One Saturday afternoon, I had a chance to listen to my son’s barber come alive as he shared his stories in World War 2.

This man was seven when they took the ship from Dvorstadt to Canada. He’d fallen in the ship in turbulent water and broke bones so his trip was painful. When he’d arrived in Canada, he’d started school not understanding the dynamics of the war. He had simply understood that Hitler and his socialist party built the autostrada and successfully turned the German economy around. He was a powerhouse benefiting his local and national economy.


Arriving in Canada as a German boy, he was surprised to discover people’s reaction to him. The other school kids blamed him for his part in the World War, which was nothing, of course. That’s a heavy burden for a grade 2 kid.

This is a part of World War 2 history I rarely hear. I haven’t lived through war so I have no experience outside the war of anger, hurt, and fear in my own soul against injustices when I was a child. 

So I turn to books where I can gently introduce my children to experiences through other children’s eyes. (Oh, and travel. Travelling to World War sites is the best way to learn.)


The Dear Canada series is written from the perspective of a girl. 

This is not ideal prose for my third 8 year old daughter as she finds it challenging (that wasn’t the case with my other girls, though). Written in diary style, though, I can read it to her and she can easily understand it.

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Our Canadian Girl has a series on a character named Margit that my oldest daughter loves.

There are four books in this series and they are easily read by an eight year old. My oldest has read every book of the Canadian Girl collection, which includes many other historical Canadian topics.

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Usborne books make for easy reading and easy understanding, no matter their topic.

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. (And these books always get reread.)

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

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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 for most kids pre-high school.

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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. We actually purchased the unabridged version in Amsterdam’s Jewish Ghetto when we visited. My eldest daughter was surprised how preoccupied Anne was with boys, and not preoccupied with the war raging outside her window or how occupied she was with the drama of living with her housemates. Anne doesn’t betray a constant state of fear as I may have thought. (PS We got to visit her home when we were in Amsterdam and I share about it here.)

We only learn what life was really like during war when we talk with people who’ve been there or shared their stories in print.

As we remember during this Remembrance season, let us consider that we have a contribution to peace in the world, for if we want peace on earth, it must begin with us. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us.

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

Mark Twain

5 thoughts on “Homeschool Resources for Teaching World War 2 to an Eight Year Old

  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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