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17 Best ANZAC Day Books for Kids

ANZAC Day is an important day for our family because it wasn’t too long ago that we discovered that one of T’s forebears fought in France in World War 1. T and I visited various war memorials in France and as we silently stared at the rows and rows of white tombstones I wept for those poor boys buried halfway across the world from their families.

Shrine of Rememberance Melbourne

I think the meaning of ANZAC Day is actually quite a difficult subject to broach with children. How do you discuss war, family, tragedy, death and life in a sensitive and age-appropriate way? Every tough question leads to another tough question.

In situations like this, I find a well-written and illustrated picture book can help explain what my words cannot.

So here is a selection of the best ANZAC Day picture books that we have read over the years.

ANZAC Day Books for Children

1. Lest We Forget

This number 1 bestselling picture book will help young children understand the significance of ANZAC Day. It's suitable for kids 5+ years.

Lest We Forget
Lest We Forget

A young boy visits his granddad and thinks about the important days in his life: his first day of school, playing soccer with his team, the day his baby sister was born.

Through the illustrations the reader sees a parallel story of the grandfather's experiences at war: wearing his brand-new soldier's uniform, with his fellow diggers in the field, looking at a photo of the baby he's never met.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

2. Meet the ANZACs

The Meet….series of picture books tells the stories of famous Australian and women in history.

Meet The Anzacs
Meet The Anzacs

In Meet the ANZACs kids learn about the brave Anzac soldiers. There is also another Meet Weary Dunlop by Claire Saxby which features the heroic Australian Army surgeon during World War II.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository 

3. The Tale of the Anzac Tortoise

Based on the true story of one of the longest-living and quietest World War I survivors, this is an epic tale of soldiers, nurses, sacrifice and kindness. Siblings Matthew and Marama find themselves transported back in time to Gallipoli through an encounter with a tortoise.

The Tale Of The Anzac Tortoise
The Tale Of The Anzac Tortoise

The original tortoise who inspired the story was plucked by a wounded soldier from the battlefield and then gifted to a nurse, who brought him home to New Zealand. That nurse was the great-great-aunt of author Shona Riddell, and the tortoise remained in their family for the next 80 years!

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

4. One Minute's Silence

The multi-award-winning book One Minute's Silence by David Metzenthen explores the meaning of Remembrance Day, drawing on the ANZAC and Turkish battle at Gallipoli.

One Minutes Silence_CRV.indd

In one minute of silence you can imagine sprinting up the beach in Gallipoli in 1915 with the fierce fighting Diggers, but can you imagine standing beside the brave battling Turks as they defended their homeland from the cliffs above.

In the silence that follows a war long gone, you can see what the soldiers saw, you can feel what the soldiers felt. And if you try, you might be able to imagine the enemy, and see that he is not so different from you. Imagine, remember and honour the soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

Actor Shane Jacobson's moving reading of this book also features on Story Box Library.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

5. The ANZAC Billy

During World War I, Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the front were sent Christmas care packages in a tin billy.

The Anzac Billy
The Anzac Billy

The ANZAC Billy is the heartwarming story of a little boy packing a billy with all his father’s favourite things even though he realises there is no way that the billy can actually go to a particular soldier. It's by a Melbourne-based team of author Claire Saxby and illustrators Mark Jackson and Heather Potter. Suitable for kids 5+  years.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

6. The Poppy

Stunningly illustrated in over 70 paintings, The Poppy is the true story of Anzac Day, 1918, when a desperate night counter-attack in the French village of Villers-Bretonneux became one of Australia`s greatest victories.

The Poppy Andrew Plant
The Poppy Andrew Plant

The book is suitable for age 9+ years.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

7. Along The Road To Gundagai

The song lyrics of Along The Road To Gundagai may be familiar, but the story they tell may not be.

Along The Road To Gundagai
Along The Road To Gundagai

It tells the story of the men who went to the Great War, many of them never to return home. It comes with a CD of the song too. Age 5+ years.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

8. An Anzac Tale

With the outbreak of war in 1914, best friends Wally and Roy, and new mate Tom, are among the first to enlist. But their great adventure soon turns to disaster. The day after the landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, more than 2000 of their fellow Anzacs are dead.

An Anzac Tale
An Anzac Tale

As the Gallipoli campaign drags on, Wally, Roy and Tom find themselves locked in combat with a formidable enemy, a ferocious landscape, flies, fleas, cold and disease. Age 7+ years.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

9. Light Horse Boy

In 1914 Jim and Charlie abandon the Australian outback for the excitement and adventure of the war to end all wars. But in the Light Horse they quickly discover the brutal realities of life on the frontline.

Light Horse Boy
Light Horse Boy

Featuring stunning charcoal sketches by Brian Simmonds alongside primary source documents and historical photos, Light Horse Boy goes behind the scenes of the great Anzac legends for an intimate look at their experience of World War I.

Light Horse Boy was a shortlisted book in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2018. Suitable for ages 9+ years.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

10. Anzac Biscuits

Rachel is in the kitchen, warm and safe. Her father is in the trenches, cold and afraid. When Rachel makes biscuits for her father, she adds the love, warmth and hope that he needs.

Anzac Bisuits
Anzac Bisuits

Anzac Biscuits was a notable book in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2019.  Age 6+ years.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

11. My Mother's Eyes

This unique, stirring picture book is based on true stories of the twenty-three teenage soldiers who fought with the Australian army in World War I, as recorded at the Australian War Memorial.

My Mother's Eyes Mark Wilson
My Mother's Eyes Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson's grandfather was a boy soldier who did survive to return home. Told in the boy's own simple language and with extracts from his letters home, the story is extremely moving and evocative of the tragedy.

More information and teachers' guide available at www.mymotherseyes.com.au.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

12. Anzac Ted

Anzac Ted is the powerful, poignant story of a little boy's teddy bear that was passed down to him from his grandfather. Battered, torn, missing an eye and an ear, he might look scary but he's got a great story to tell. For Anzac Ted went to war, keeping soldiers company and giving them comfort.

Anzac Ted Belinda Landsberry
Anzac Ted Belinda Landsberry

Belinda's exquisite watercolour illustrations combine with her rhyming text to create a book that, while perfect for parents and teachers to share with children, is also guaranteed to touch the heart of every adult.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

13. My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day

This picture book for children 6+ years is a simple, moving look at Anzac Day through the eyes of a little girl. She goes to the pre-dawn Anzac Day service with her father where they watch the girl's grandfather march in the Anzac Day parade.

My Grandad Marches On Anzac Day
My Grandad Marches On Anzac Day

This beautifully illustrated book explains what happens on Anzac Day and its significance in terms a young child can understand.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

14. Roly, the Anzac Donkey

New Zealand author Glyn Harper's book follows Richard Henderson and his donkey Roly, who together saved many World War 1 soldiers.

Roly The Anzac Donkey
Roly The Anzac Donkey

The book was published to mark the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli. It suitable for kids 6+ years.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

15. The Last Anzac

Alec Campbell enlisted in the Australian army in 1915, when he was sixteen. The last living Anzac died in May 2002 at the age of 103, and James, a small boy, was very fortunate to meet Alec and find out about his experiences the year before Alec Campbell died.

The Last Anzac
The Last Anzac

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

16. The ANZAC Tree

Inspired by the story of two soldiers who planted two trees on their farm before they headed to the Great War, the story of the Anzac Tree is one that looks at the lives of those left behind in times of war.

The Anzac Tree Christina Booth
The Anzac Tree Christina Booth

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

17. Anzac Girl: The War Diaries of Alice Ross-King

This book is good for middle primary children 7-10 year olds. It tells the true story of Anzac girl Sister Alice Ross-King, who sailed to war in December 1914 and is written by Kate Simpson, the great-granddaughter of Alice Ross-King.

Anzac Girl The War Diaries Of Alice Ross King
Anzac Girl The War Diaries Of Alice Ross King

Using extracts from Alice's actual diaries kept in the Australian War Memorial, this true story captures the danger, the heartache and the history of the young nurse who would one day become the most decorated woman in Australia.

Buy from Amazon | Book Depository | Dymocks | Booktopia | Angus and Robertson

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Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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