Top Tips: Anzac Day Books for Kids
Today ceremonies across New Zealand will be held to mark Anzac Day. Pre-schoolers and school children may also be exploring Anzac Day and its history at school.
What is Anzac Day?
Most people in New Zealand are aware of Anzac Day, but if you don’t know all about it, here’s a quick primer.
Anzac Day is marked on April 25th each year. It was first observed as a holiday in 1916 and became a full public holiday in 1921.
The date marks when Australian and New Zealand soldiers, known as Anzacs, landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 as part of World War One. The aim was to capture the area and open up an important sea route. But the campaign did not go to plan, and thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers died. While the campaign wasn’t a success in military terms, it was still a defining moment in New Zealand’s history.
Today, those lost in the First World War and subsequent conflicts and people currently serving the armed forces are honoured on Anzac Day with dawn services and other ceremonies at war memorials across the country. The day is also a public holiday, and shops and other places are closed until 1pm.
Anzac Day is a great way to introduce history and culture to children, and there are lots of great books by New Zealand and Australian authors about Anzac Day to read with your child. We’ve chosen some of our favourites for each age group.
Anzac Day books for pre-schoolers
My Granddad Marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy
This simple book follows a little girl who goes to the dawn service to watch her granddad in the parade. It explains what happened on Anzac Day simply for young children through the main character.
Anzac Ted by Belinda Landsberry
Anzac Ted tells the story of a battered bear handed down to a boy by his granddad. He looks battered, but he is no ordinary bear. Anzac Ted went to war to keep soldiers company and comfort them. Simple rhyming text makes this a great book to read aloud with young children.
Anzac Day books for primary school aged children
Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story: What It Is and Why It Matters by Philippa Werry
This book explores Anzac Day and some of its traditions and covers many questions that children might have. As well as dealing with the Gallipoli Campaign, the book also explores things like the national anthem and the Last Post and why we make Anzac biscuits.
Lest We Forget by Kerry Brown
This book cleverly mixes the experiences of a young boy - like his first day at school and playing with his soccer team - with similar experiences of his grandad during the war - getting his uniform and being with his unit.
Simpson and his Donkey by Mark Greenwood
This book tells the story of John Kirkpatrick Simpson, who, along with his donkey Duffy rescued more than 300 wounded soldiers during the Gallipoli campaign.
Anzac Day books for teenagers
My Brother’s War by David Hill
In this story, one brother enlists and is ready to fight, while the other is a conscientious objector. This is a good novel to introduce older children to the finer details of war and different perspectives.
A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French
This novel tells the story of Midge and her two friends who set up a canteen in France to care for wounded soldiers and then join the ambulance service. It highlights the role played by women in the war and doesn’t shy away from how terrible life was in the trenches and for wounded soldiers.
Bonus: If you’d like to get hands-on with your Anzac Day, Edmonds also has a fab Anzac Biscuit recipe here that you can try.
- Words by Arwen Hann