Tuesday, December 23, 2014
24th December Christmas Truce
Given the events of late in Sydney, the fact that I am on school holidays and my family are home for Christmas I have spent time recently thinking about what parents have told their young children about
the grim events in the news. At school I try to share tough events through literature that we can discuss at their level. I want them to experience discomfit but within a safe, scaffolded situation that they experience vicariously and where they get to empathise but also to ask questions. This helps then when an unpleasant event or experience is closer to home because they have some schema to fall back upon.
Then this morning I was thinking about Christmas stories and browsing through my Christmas picture book pinterest list, I saw In Flanders Fields and thought of how a positive experience occurs amongst the grimness of World War 1 in the name of Christmas. A truce is called to the fighting, the singing of carols unites the warring troops and a time of reflection ensues. Similarly there has been an outpouring of goodwill among the people in Sydney and the flowers in Martin Place have allowed a time of reflection and the chance to think about what really matters to each of us.
In the year to come as we mark the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 it is nice to know that for at least a short time, it really was all quiet on the Western Front. I have read this story to my Year 2 children at Christmas and this year I also read them The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree on Remembrance Day because of its reference to this day. The students asked lots of questions, queried why it had taken Ruthie's father so long to come home after the armistice and made connections between this and other books we had read. This is the power of good children's books.
Now there are quite a few titles about the truce and all have good points, but the Jorgensen one works for me because the children relate to the hurt robin and his need of rescue, the black and white illustrations have a subtlety that removes the graphic horror of war and it is just the right length to read in one sitting, but by all means check out the others so you can match your students with the 'right' book.
• In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen
• Shooting at the Stars by John Hendrix
• Christmas Truce by Aaron Shepard
• War Game by Michael Foreman
• Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy
• Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
• The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy
• The Christmas Truce: the Place Where Peace was Found by Hilary Robinson