Best Children’s Books Before a Trip to Normandy
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Before our bigger trips, we always try to do some research about where we’re going and what makes it special. Finding children’s books, and sometimes movies, has become one of my favorites parts of planning. And, we have found the kids to be more engaged on our adventures when they start to see recognizable landmarks.
There are great lists to help you prepare for trips to Paris. These resources led us to some of our favorites, like Henri’s Walk to Paris, Monuments that Tell the Stories of Paris, and Linnea in Monet’s Garden. These books are classics that became the perfect souvenirs of our adventures, as well as well-loved reads that we continue to pull from the shelves.
But when preparing for Normandy, it was harder to find books that were age-appropriate for kids younger than seven. Yet, if possible I wanted to impart some knowledge of what had happened in Normandy some 70 years ago, and instill a sense of reverence and gratitude. It was important to me that as much as their brains could comprehend, they understood that something important had happened there.
Children’s Books & Media About D-Day and Normandy
- The Butterfly. After the Nazis take over young Monique’s small French town, she befriends a Jewish girl who is hiding in her basement. After their friendship is discovered, a daring escape is planned. This book tells the story of friendship, and doing what is right in the face of evil, no matter your size. My older two – ages 4 and 6 – were completely captured by this tale and it is now a favorite book across all genres.
- What Was D-Day? Given how young our children were, I wanted to avoid graphic images and descriptions. This short chapter book was perfect. Even I learned a good amount about the planning and execution of D-Day and it went into just the right amount of detail for our young listeners.
- The Orphans of Normandy: A True Story of World War II Told Through the Drawings of Children. Following the D-Day invasion, 100 orphaned girls were forced to evacuate their home and school and march through the countryside. This book, using the drawings and words of those brave girls, tells of those days as they marched to safety. This book is a classic, and especially recommended for young girls, who will find it easy to relate to the drawings and language used by girls just like them, just in much different circumstances.
- The Long Long Holiday. This series, available on Netflix, follows two young children who are staying with their grandparents in the Normandy countryside during the early years of Nazi occupation. We watched the first two episodes, which were fantastic, however a bit too sad for my sensitive first grader. Even those episodes, however, did a good job of helping them feel the enormity of those days, without exposing them to graphic images or mature content.
- The Longest Day. This John Wayne classic about the Allied invasion is long for little ones, but much tamer than more recent D-Day blockbusters. Our crowd only watched the first hour or so, but the kids recalled key people and events when in Normandy itself, so it did provide some great context for our travels.
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