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World War I Resources

To visit in the UK

Imperial War Museum, London
The First World War Trench Experience and many other exhibits of relevance. Plenty to suit all ages at the museum, but some aspects may be upsetting. Outdoors there is a park nearby, good for picnics. Free (charge for talks and special exhibitions).

Sandham Memorial Chapel, near Newbury
Worth a brief visit to this National Trust building if you are in the area. Inside this tiny chapel the walls are covered with paintings by Artist Stanley Spencer whose work is inspired by the First World War. Intriguing and breathtaking. Visitors sit to gaze at the paintings and are provided with a laminated guide to the paintings and there are postcards etc for sale. At the front is a wild garden with benches and shady trees suitable for picnics. Note there are no toilets or refreshments here, but there is a pub that serves food on the opposite side of the road. Variable opening days, so check on NT website.

To download

World War I Lapbook by In The Hands of A Child
PDF downloadable from Currclick website. Approx £10 (Aug 2011). Good, self-contained resource with information and cut-outs for lapbook construction. Probably ok for age 8 upwards. "20-page Research Guide and 23 hands-on activities explain the countries involved, the causes of the war, the weapons used, and the battles fought. It also gives a detailed timeline of events, and includes biographies of important people..."

World War I Era by Intellego Unit Studies
PDF downloadable from Currclick website. Approx £6-7 (Aug 2011). A series of activities linked to the era of World War I. There is very little actual information in this pack, but for each activity it refers to relevant website links and videos online. You'll need regular, good internet access to make use of this resource. Difficult to pitch an appropriate age, but primarily a useful list of web resources for home educators to use as they wish.
Includes these topics (some are more relevant to the US): Life before the war; Causes of the war; Nationalism; Treaties and alliances; Western and Eastern fronts;The Lusitania;
Life in the trenches; Music of World War I; Major battles;Armistice Day; Treaty of Versailles;Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points; Reparations and disarmament ; League of Nations;
The Russian Revolution; The Romanov Dynasty;Vladimir Lenin ;Communism and capitalism;
Life after the war; Racism, Nativism and the Red Scare; The Roaring Twenties ;The Harlem Renaissance; Henry Ford and automation

To Read (those we have read and loved are marked *)

WWI Fiction (for children and young adults)
Because of the nature of the subject many of these books deal with potentially upsetting or disturbing issues.

Charley's War by Joe Colquhoun and Pat Mills - A series of graphic novels describing the experience of Charley, a soldier in the First World War. Content is realistic so perhaps best suited to age 10+. Great books for not-so-confident readers. *

The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgewick. 'It is 1915. Sasha Fox is seventeen years old. She lives a privileged life. But her brothers, Edgar and Tom, cannot avoid the war and Sasha has a terrible gift. She can see the future.' (Probably best suited for teens)

The Language of Doves by Rosemary Wells and Greg Shed. 'On her sixth birthday, Julietta's grandfather gives her one of his beautiful homing pigeons and tells her a story of his experience raising and training doves in Italy during the Great War.' Picture book.

Eyes like Willy's by Juanita Havill. 'While vacationing over the course of several summers in Austria, French siblings Guy and Sarah Masson become best friends with a German boy, until the outbreak of World War I puts them on opposing sides.'

Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables) by L.M. Montgomery. 'undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war.'

The Night the Bells Rang by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and Leslie W. Bowman. The last year of WWI.

A Question of Courage by Marjorie Darke. About the Suffragette movement.

Fire in the Hills by Anna Meyers.

The Good Master and the sequel, The Singing Tree , by Kate Seredy. Gives the Hungarian perspective.

Heroes by Anne Perry. 'It's the First World War. Men are dying every day. Hundreds of them, sometimes thousands. But one death is different. One death is murder. How important is one murder among all the other dead? And how far will Joseph go to find the killer' (Written for adult readers with a lower reading age)

Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence. 'A young English boy believes that he and his army of toy soldiers control the battles fought by his father during World War I.'

Summer of the Zeppelin by Elsie McCutcheon. 'In the long hot summer of 1918, England is at war with Germany, and Elvira Preston badly misses her father....Elvira is determined to find an escape from her small village. The ruined house she discovers in the woods is the perfect answer, and with her orphan friend Clarry she makes elaborate plans for the hide-out. The Germans, however, have other ideas and the last summer of the war becomes one that lives in Elvira's memory for ever.'

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. 'One horse's experience in the deadly chaos of the first world war.' Very moving story with gritty detail of WWI. Not recommended for the very sensitive. Audiobook is wonderful. *

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. '...charts both the childhood of young Thomas Peaceful in the early years of the 20th century, and his eventual underage enlistment in the British army to help fight the First World War.' Beautiful, gritty, and very very sad. Not for the very sensitive. Audiobook is fab. *

War Game by Michael Foreman. 'One by one, soldiers from both sides cautiously emerge from their trenches and put aside for a few hours the war that has made them enemies to play the historic game of football in No Man's Land.'

All Quiet on the Western Front by Eriq Maria Remarque. Not really a children's book at all though I remember reading it age 11 or so. A touching, and sometimes traumatic, insight into the world of a young German WWI soldier as he becomes dehumanised by war. Selected excerpts read to children would be fine, but I would only recommend book for less-sensitive children age 11+. Teens and older would probably get most out of it. *

One Boy's War by Lynne Huggins-Cooper and Ian Benfold-Hayward. 'Sixteen-year-old Sydney is overwhelmed by the excitement of the 1914 recruitment campaigns and the bravado of men leaving for the Great War....he runs away to join up, but soon finds himself a long way from home in a frontline trench where reality - and the rats - begin to bite. Told through Sydney's optimistic letters home and his journal, this is his honest portrayal of the disillusionment and degradation of life and death in the trenches of World War I.'

When the Guns Fall Silent by James Riordan. 'Jack standing among the war graves, sees a face he recognises. Suddenly, it's 1914 and he's a young lad back in the trenches. Visions of killing and misery come to him with horrible clarity. But Jack remembers too the incredible moment when the fighting gave way to football on the frozen ground of No-Man's-Land.' (see further down for the sequel to this book).

Road to War: A First World War Girl's Diary 1916-1917 (My Story series) by Valerie Wilding. 'It's 1917 and the Great War rages in Europe. When Daffy Rowntree's brother goes missing in action she refuses to sit safely in England. and determines to do something to help win the war. Soon she finds herself in the mud and horror of the battlefields of France, driving an ambulance transporting the wounded of the trenches.'

Day of the Assassins: a Jack Christie Novel by Jonny O'Brien. 'The year: 1914. The place: Sarajevo. The mission: assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand - heir to an empire.'

Christmas in the trenches by Alan Wakefield.

Christmas in the trenches by John McCutcheon and Henri Sorensen. 'A World War I veteran tells his grandson of his experiences in 1914, when British and German soldiers declared a truce from fighting to celebrate Christmas together.'

The Donkey of Gallipoli: a true story of courage in world war I a non-fiction picture book.

The Shell House by Linda Newbury. 'Greg explores a ruined English mansion, and meets Faith, a serious young woman who gives him a tour of the grounds. She also tells him about the past inhabitants, whose son disappeared after he returned home from fighting in World War I.' (Teens upwards ?)

And in the Morning by John Wilson. 'Jim has signed up and is soon in the trenches. His diary entries and letters home to his girlfriend reflect his growing awareness of the horrors of war.'

Flying Ace Jack Fairfax, Royal Flying Corps 1915-1918 (My Story series) by Jim Eldridge. '...this was not just a failed engine, this was a dead engine. And I was 10,000 feet above the ground in a machine that was suddenly heavier than the air I was flying in. I was fighting a losing battle against gravity. And then an even bigger horror...the German's bullets had cut through my fuel line and I was being sprayed with gasoline...'

The Trenches: Billy Stevens The Western Front 1914-1918(My Story series) by Jim Eldridge. 'Mustard gas! A feeling of panic hit me and I scrambled to get my respirator over my face before the killer gas got into my mouth and nose and burnt my lungs....'

Divided Loyalties by Dennis Hamley. Sequel to 'Ellen's People'. Set between the wars in the run-up to World War 2.

Archie's War by Marcia Williams written as the scrapbook a 10 year old boy kept during WWI, 'but covers a lot of historical ground.'

Reviews/synopses for the following fiction books can be found
here on a wonderful site which lists a large selection of historical fiction for children.

Generals die in Bed. A Novel from the Trenches by Charles Yale Harrison, Random House, 2004, £4.99, paperback. 152 pages, ISBN 0-099-43990-5. Recommended age 14+ by reviewer.
War Song by James Riordan, Oxford University Press, 2001, £4.99, paperback.170 pages. ISBN Mudlark by John Sedden, Puffin, 2005, £4.99, paperback. 248 pages, ISBN 0-141-31868-6. Recommended age 14+ by reviewer.

POW by Martin Booth, Puffin, July 2000, £4.99, Pb. 147 pages. ISBN 0-141-30421-9
Recommended age 11+ by reviewer.

Remembrance by Theresa Breslin, Doubleday, 2002, £10.99, hardback, 303 pages, ISBN 0-385-60204-9. Recommended age 12-adult by reviewer.

Swallowcliffe Hall: Standing in the Shadows by Jennie Walters, Simon and Schuster, 2006, £5.99, paperback, 244 pages, ISBN 0-689-87527-4. This is the second book in the trilogy about Swallowcliffe Hall. Recommended age 12+ by reviewer.

Biggles learns to Fly by Captain W.E. Johns, Red Fox, 1992, 256 pages. ISBN 0099938200. (there are other Biggles books too). Recommended age 10+ by reviewer. [Personally I find the Biggles books difficult as read-alouds because of the rather archaic style of writing, but others love 'em.]

Smoke in the Tunnel by Sian Lewis, Gomer Press (Pont Books), 1991, £2.50, Paperback, 62 pages. ISBN 0 86383 736 0. 'set in the Welsh village of Nantgraig on the Aberystwyth-Carmarthen railway line at the beginning of the First World War.' Recommended age 9+ by reviewer.

Wings to Fly by Patrick Cooper, Anderson Press, 2001, £4.99, paperback, 122 pages, ISBN 1-84270-026-X. A flashback-style book. Recommended age 8-12 by reviewer.

War Song by James Riordan, Oxford University Press, 2001, £4.99, paperback.170 pages. ISBN 0-19-275192-1.

A Rose from Blighty by Marjorie Darke, Collins, 1990, £6.95, Hd, 252 pages. ISBN 0-00-184686 'This is a sequel to A Question of Courage, which is about the suffragettes.' Recommended age teen by reviewer.

WWI non-fiction for children
Horrible Histories Handbooks: Trenches by Terry Deary. 'From foul food to coping with legions of lice, discover all the dire details of life in the blood and mud of the First World War trenches...from both sides of the barbed wire.' Usual Horrible Histories style book. Short factual chunks of the interesting and the gruesome. (Note Horrible Histories audioCDs of WWI are also available and recommended) *

True Stories of The First World War (Usborne True Stories series). Probably readable age 7+, but content is more suitable for 9+. *

A Soldiers Life in World War One by Fiona Corbridge.'Looks at how armies, navies and air forces on all sides during World War One lived and fought together.' Good factual introduction. Short paragraphs of info, lots of pictures. Content not too gruesome. *

Other books:
Children at war (contemporary studies in children's literature). 'an authoritative guide to literature for young readers which concerns warfare, from the First World War to the wars in the Gulf and the Balkans. ' Adult reading. We haven't read this, but it may be useful for those who want to study the subject further.

Videos to watch online
Battle of the Somme (from A 1916 British documentary and propoganda shot by two official cinematographers. Shows the British preparations for and the early stages of the battle and includes scenes of trench warfare.

Dogfighting - first part of a tv documentary series on youtube.

Wings TV series from 1977. 'About the origins of the RAF in WWI.' (Rated 12 cert.) Recommended by another home educator.

Other links and resources
First World War multimedia history (A collection of source documents detailing origins, treaties, major speeches, personalities, battles, weapons, audio archive and photographs.)

BBC History World War I (includes a virtual tour of the trenches)

First World War UK National Archives (an online exhibition which includes documents relating to WWI held at the National Archives)

War Poetry website (includes poetry resources relating to other wars)

First World War Poetry Digital Archive Oxford University's online repository of over 7000 items of text, images, audio, and video for teaching, learning, and research.

Short selection of WWI poetry and links

The Long, Long Trail The British Army in The Great War. Particularly good for those interested in researching a soldier or a particular army unit.

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