A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Polly Horvath (Everything on a Waffle).
- Itâ€™s the birthdate of Michael Dorris (1945â€“1997), Morning Girl, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882â€“1945), the longest serving United States president was born on this day. Read A Boy Names FDR: How Franklin D. Roosevelt Grew Up to Change America by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, FCRâ€™s Alphabet Soup: New Deal America 1932â€“1939 by Tonya Bolden, and Breakfast at the Liberty Diner by Daniel Kirk.
- In 1933, Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Today marks the anniversary of the Tet Offensive in 1968. After calling a cease-fire during the Tet holiday celebration, North Vietnam launched a major offensive throughout South Vietnam. A milestone in the Vietnam War, after the Tet Offensive the U.S. Government began to seek a way out of their involvement in the Vietnamese War.
Certainly the Vietnam War shaped my life and those who also experienced these events as a young person. But how might these years be made understandable to young children today? In 1990 Eve Bunting published The Wall, illustrated by Ronald Himler, which brings the war in Vietnam into perspective for young readers. Now a classic, The Wall begins â€śThis is the wall, my grandfatherâ€™s Wall. On it are the names of those killed in a war, long ago.â€ť
An unnamed boy and his dad hunt for the name of the boyâ€™s grandfather on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Flowers, flags, teddy bears, and letters decorate the memorial. They see a man in a wheelchair, grandparents hugging, and a group of girls in school uniforms all visiting the wall. Finding the grandfatherâ€™s name, George Munoz, among those killed in 1967, the father makes an impression on paper to take back with them. Then they place a picture of the boy beneath the grandfatherâ€™s name. Proud to see his grandfather on the memorial, the boy admits he would rather â€śhave my grandpa here, taking me to the river, telling me to button my jacket because itâ€™s cold. Iâ€™d rather have him here.â€ť
In this short but powerful text, the Vietnamese War becomes a family storyâ€”of a boy and the missing grandfather in his life. It brings home the high cost of the war in human terms and yet is still respectful, even reverential, to those who gave their lives. Ronald Himlerâ€™s soft pencil and watercolor drawings round out the presentation. The faces of those visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are mere suggestionsâ€”they could serve as the faces of all Americans.
Some prefer to use Buntingâ€™s The Wall for Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Veterans Day. But whenever you share the book with children, it can be used to start meaningful discussions with first through fifth graders.
Hereâ€™s a page from The Wall:
Originally posted January 30, 2012. Updated for .