2014 is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War And it is an excellent opportunity to pick up and read books about this sad and difficult time. It’s hard for young people today to imagine what life was like in 1914 – the social restrictions, the role of woman, the lack of electronics in households. Reading about WW1 without understanding the society in which it took place, and the changes that it wrought in that society, is pointless. There are some excellent books which are set during this period and which provide a fascinating insight into everyday life. The excellent War Horse and Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo are two of the best known books set in WW1 but there are other books out there that deserve to be read:
Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne – similarly to his book, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, this book is told through to the eyes of a young boy. His father leaves to fight when war breaks out and, through Alfie’s eyes, we learn about the life of the people left behind – the women, the children, the parents, the conscientious objectors and people from Eastern Europe who had made England their home. Fascinating, informative and hugely enjoyable.
Soldier Dog by Sam Angus – just as horses were used in the war, so were dogs. This story tells the tale of a messenger dog and his young handler. Reminiscent of War Horse, it is a gentle and evocative story.
War Poetry – the poems that were written during this period cover a range of emotions from harrowing to despair to pride. 2014 is an excellent year to introduce this poetry to your teenagers.
The Final Whistle by Stephen Cooper follows the stories of 15 men who played rugby for Rosslyn Park Rugby Club in London and who went off to fight in WW1. A detailed book, it is not for young readers but will delight readers fascinated by rugby and WW1.
I have a list of books about WW1 that I’ll be reading and reviewing in the coming weeks. They include:
The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett
The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick
Remembrance by Theresa Breslin
When the Guns Fall Silent by James Riordan
Look out for them!