On Veterans Day we thank the men and women who serve our country in the military and risk their lives for our freedom. When they return home they often face a battle of a different kind—returning back to civilian life. Here are stories for young children, middle grades and teens exploring themes of loss, change and honor.
Rolling Thunderby Kate Messner, illustrated by Greg Ruth
Told in rhyming text, a boy accompanies his grandfather on the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom, a demonstration in Washington, DC, on Memorial Day that pays tribute to American veterans.
The Wallby Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler
A boy and his father come from far away to visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington and find the name of the boy's grandfather, who was killed in the conflict.
Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh, paintings by Layne Johnson
Known as the Poppy Lady, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, successfully established the Flanders Field Memorial Poppy as a universal symbol of tribute and support for veterans and their families during World War I and II.
The Way To Stay In Destiny by Augusta Scattergood
Sixth-grader Theo leaves everything behind to live with his Uncle Chester, a Vietnam War veteran and loner, in Destiny, Florida, but he is drawn to play the piano in Miss Sister's dance school and soon makes friends with the feisty Anabel, a baseball fanatic who invites Theo to help solve a mystery.
Half a Man by Michael Morpurgo
Follows the experiences of a young man who after years of being told not to ask his World War II veteran grandfather about his injuries learns how his grandfather survived a torpedo attack on his ship.
The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods
Forging a close friendship with an African American World War II veteran who has recently returned to their unwelcoming Jim Crow community, a 12-year-old white boy worries for his heroic friend's safety when racist locals threaten the man's family.
Stand Tall by Joan Bauer
Tree, a six-foot-three-inch twelve-year-old, copes with his parents' recent divorce and his failure as an athlete by helping his grandfather, a Vietnam vet and recent amputee, and Sophie, a new girl at school.
Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridge
In the summer of 1980 before she starts junior high school in Santa Rosa, California, Tracy, who was adopted from Vietnam when she was six years old, finds an old ammo box with a dog tag and picture that bring up painful memories for both her Vietnam-veteran father and her.
On The Wings of Heroesby Richard Peck
A boy in Illinois remembers the homefront years of World War II, especially his two heroes—his brother in the Air Force and his father, who fought in the previous war.
War Stories by Gordan Korman
Twelve-year-old Trevor Firestone loves playing war-based video games and he idolizes his great-grandfather Jacob who came home from World War II a celebrated hero; now ninety-three Jacob wants to retrace his journey in memory and reality and return to the small French village that his unit liberated, and Trevor is going with him—but not everyone in the town want Jacob to come, and Trevor is going to learn an important lesson: real war is not a video game, and valor and heroism can be very murky concepts.
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya
Sixth-grader Emilia Torres struggles with ADHD, her controlling abuela, her mother's work commitments, her father's distance after returning from deployment, evolving friendships, and a conflict over school redistricting.
Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac
It's 1932, and twelve-year-old Cal Black and his Pop have been riding the rails for years after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Cal likes being a "knight of the road" with Pop, even if they're broke. But then Pop has to go to Washington, DC--some of his fellow veterans are marching for their government checks, and Pop wants to make sure he gets his due--and Cal can't go with him. So Pop tells Cal something he never knew before: Pop is actually a Creek Indian, which means Cal is too. And Pop has decided to send Cal to a government boarding school for Native Americans in Oklahoma called the Challagi School.
The Inside Battle by Melanie Sumrow
Expelled after lashing out at a multicultural friend, the son of a former soldier with PTSD accompanies his father to the mountain base of an anti-government militia group that is plotting an attack on an African American church.
Great Falls by Steve Watkins
When his older brother returns after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with severe PTSD, Shane reluctantly agrees to accompany him on a camping trip that becomes a dangerous and life-risking journey as his brother disconnects from reality and succumbs to paranoia.
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