BOOKS

Book Cover of Remembrance Day Plays
Remembrance Day Plays for Schools and Communities, Grades 4-8
Barbara Brockmann. On the Mark Press, 2010. 180 pages, $18.95
*****
Reviewed by Andrew Robertson

With November around the corner, it’s time to start planning for the one hour of one day a year when educators have an opportunity to help elementary children develop a meaningful understanding of Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day Plays for Schools and Communities, written by Barbara Brockmann, winner of the 2014 ETFO Writer’s Award, is an age-appropriate resource that allows teachers to transform this brief yet emotional observance into an imaginative experience of Canada’s proud wartime history. Students from grades 4 to 8 have the opportunity to perform in one of five plays and participate in a Ceremony of Remembrance. The plays offer a variety of perspectives and recognize the sadness and sacrifices of war, the bravery and triumphs of fallen soldiers and veterans, and the experiences of their families and communities. The book also includes a useful teacher’s guide and a handy plot summary with at-a-glance production details for each play.

The plays address World War I, World War II (D-Day in particular), the Korean War and peacekeeping. Each play is historically accurate and gender-diverse, and includes scenes from the home front and overseas. They also incorporate events, names and places that will resonate for students who already love history and inspire independent inquiry by others. An additional feature is the optional use of instrumental and choral music from different eras, as well as modern dance to symbolize conflict and warfare. A range of dance, musical, and acting roles ensures involvement across the school body. The culminating Ceremony of Remembrance integrates historical reflection with the present moment in a moving way.

How do I know this? I’ve used this book! It’s great for reader’s theatre or for a full-scale production. It’s wonderful to watch the faces of the student audience as they start to powerfully experience and to understand what “war” means for a community, making for a Remembrance Day that won’t be forgotten.

Andrew Robertson is a member of the Ottawa-Carleton Teacher Local.

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