On November 11th, one hundred and one years ago, the Armistice was signed to bring the First World War to an end. So far removed from that time and place, it can hard for readers to connect to the holiday unless they have a friend of family member in the military. Of course, there are some great books to help teen readers understand what happened so long ago.
Lovely War by Julie Berry
At the height of World War II, Greek goddess Aphrodite is accused of infidelity by her husband,Hephaestus. In her own defense, and to explain Love’s connection to War, she narrates the story of two couples Hazel & James and Aubrey & Collette. Hope, heartbreak and passion fill this epic story of Love’s transcendent power.
In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
As World War I winds down, life and death are considered as people seek relief from loss of loved ones and the specter of the flu pandemic. The book blends history with spiritualism as the main character, Mary Shelley Black, struggles to come to terms with love and science.
The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War byJohn Boyne, Tracy Chevalier et al., illus. by Jim Kay.
Contemporary YA authors David Almond, Michael Morpurgo, John Boyne, AL Kennedy, Marcus Sedgewick, Adele Geras,Tracy Chevalier, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Sheena Wilkinson, Ursula Dubrovsky, and Timothee de Fombelle were each invited to choose an object that had a connection to the war and write a short story. The stories are as varied as you might imagine, but each gives readers a glimpse into the range of impacts war has on the survivors.
Terrorist: Gavrilo Princip, the Assassin Who ignited World War I by Henrik Rehr
Black and white illustrations, reminiscent of the newsreels and photographs of the era that would have informed people about the assassination, are the heart of this graphic novel that looks into the origins of the First World War. Despite it’s authentic feel, this is a work of fiction that attempts to provide readers some insight into the complex causes of WWI.
The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks
A fictionalized account of the 369th infantry regiment, this graphic novel chronicles the 191 days of combat by the African-American infantry regiment.
In the Fields and the Trenches: The Famous and the Forgotten on the Battlefields of World War I by Kerrie Logan Hollihan
A work of non-fiction, In the Fields and the Trenches, tells the stories of eighteen young people – some of whom would go on to become well-known 20th-century figures – who thought the war would be a short adventure. It was not. The stories of Harry S. Truman, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ernest Hemingway, Marie Curie, Buster Keaton, and five of Theodore Roosevelts’s children are interspersed with stories of people less well-known to the world.
Poets of World War I by Rupert Smith
World War I produced some of the best poetry of the Twentieth Century. Not a collection of poems, this book introduces the reader to some of the more famous poets that wrote about their experiences during World War One.
The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century by Neal Bascomb
During WWI approximately 192,848 British and Empire POWs were held in Germany. In this young reader’s version of The Escape Artists, Bascomb does a great job bringing to life the little known story of life for soldiers in WWI prison camps and their efforts to regain their freedom.
–Adrienne Gillespie, currently reading Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lai