On April 25, every year, Australians mark a day called ANZAC Day. ANZAC stands for ‘Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’. ANZAC Day commemorates the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The Australian War Memorial historians summarise the events of April 25 as follows:
“The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.”
Read More: Anzac Tradition
Australians continue to take part in memorial services at dawn on April 25 all around the world. Wherever you are, you’ll usually be able to find a group of Australians gathering to commemorate. It can be a tricky to explain the significance of ANZAC Day to children. Quite a number of Australian and New Zealand authors have put together children’s books that tell the stories of the ANZAC’s, or tell stories of individuals who fought in war. These books can be an effective way to teach children about this chapter in history. I’ve put together a list of a few books that are stand outs for me.
Book Picks for ANZAC Day
The Bantam and The Soldier
I first read this book when I was in Primary School. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship between the smallest bantam on a French farm and a shy, homesick soldier called Arthur. I loved this book when I was a child, and I still love it. It’s gentle and warming. A great read for kids at this time of year, or any time of the year.
Read More: The Bantam and The Soldier
This is the story of how two friends Bluey and Dusty head to war as part of the ANZAC contingent. This moving story about Gallipoli delves into themes such as hardship, bravery, friendship, fear and humour.
It provides a gentle insight into what it was like to be there at Gallipoli and could be a companion book to a Dawn service visit. The author Kerry Greenwood also brought us the ‘Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries’.
Read More: Gallipoli
My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day
I remember marching at our community ANZAC Day parades with a soldiers badge and medals pinned to my shirt. As primary school students we were given a soldier to represent, someone who had no family to march for them on the day. I remember ‘my’ soldier’s name, even today: William Rutherford.
This is a lovely story about a young girl who goes to the dawn service to watch her grandad march in the parade.
Read More: My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day
Boasting possibly the best biscuit batter in the world, the ANZAC biscuit is a classic Australian biscuit. I’m not 100% sure of the accuracy of this, but we were always taught that these biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients were non-perishable and did not spoil easily.
This story is about a young girl whose father is fighting at the front. It’s about how she finds a way to connect with him through the biscuits she bakes.
Read More: Anzac Biscuits
Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse
I like anything that involves horses, so this one was bound to make it onto the list.
This is a moving book (reminds me a little of ‘War Horse’). It tells the story of a soldier and his horse. Travelling across the world, working together and then working apart, they reunite for the last great cavalry charges in history, the ride on Beersheba. I love children’s story books that examine history from unique perspectives.
Read More: Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse
Reading is so important for children. You can read more about the importance of literacy skills and early reading here:
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This article was written by our speech pathologist Jenna Butterworth who is a Speech Pathology Australia member.
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