Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force is available now!
Why do I write military history for children?
I was recently presenting an author talk, happily outlining the merits of the Australia Remembers series and the research involved in the creation of Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force, when a curious adult in the audience asked me a simple question.
Why do you write military history for kids?
Hmm … good question, why do I write military history for children??
I confess from the outset, that I have no military background or expertise whatsoever, nor in my immediate family. My inspiration essentially derives from the service of my grandfather and his four brothers, volunteers of the 1st AIF whose story I tell in Anzac Sons. But the motivation also runs as deep as my thirty years of service as a teacher, not usually as dangerous as the armed forces, but on the odd occasion, maybe it has been! After all, I still remember disarming that child threatening another with a pair of scissors …
But … I do know quite a lot about the stories that children like to hear, the books they like to read and the gaps in available resources that can exist. I was a teacher-librarian for twenty-four of those thirty years – I hung around with kids and books all day. Lucky me!
So, here’s what I thought back in 2014 when the adult version of Anzac Sons was released – I want to share my family’s story with the children I teach.
The Anzac Story in Primary School
In Primary schools we focus very much on the Anzac story of Gallipoli. Rightly so, but in my experience many children of Primary school age associate our major days of commemoration with Gallipoli only. I wanted to take the Anzac story for children beyond that. I believed there were few concise and easy to use non-fiction resources for children about the service of Australians on the Western Front. There are many fictionalised accounts of the Australian experience at war but real stories can be equally as compelling. I wanted to fill that gap and create a book that tells a personal story of family and great sacrifices, a book to generate discussion about why it’s important to remember and be grateful. So, the children’s version of Anzac Sons was born!
My passion for history is further motivation for all of my books – fiction and non-fiction. I firmly believe that understanding your past and the contribution the people before you have made to our lives today, plays a significant role in developing identity, empathy and a positive view of the world. My identity has certainly been fashioned by knowledge of my ancestors. When I need a bit of courage, I think of them, not just the Marlow brothers, but all those who came before, including the convicts!
Much of developing a sense of identity is happening in the Primary years, including a pride in the country in which we live. I hope my books go some way to infusing kids with a sense of community service and respect for those who keep us safe – sailors, soldiers, airmen and women, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, volunteers of the SES and surf lifesavers – all those who serve our country.
That’s why I write military history for kids!
Australia Remembers 2: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Defence Force comes in paperback or hardcover. Order now at your local bookshop, your preferred online supplier or by clicking here