Memorial Day Books & Art Projects for Kids

Memorial Day Books & Art Projects for Kids

It wasn’t easy to find books in my library for Memorial Day. While there are a few picture books, none were on the shelves. Rather than give you a list of hard to find books, I’ve narrowed the list to just three and have added activities that I rounded up from Pinterest.

First, here’s some background on Memorial and Veterans Day:

Memorial Day was first celebrated in 1868, then called Decoration Day to remember the soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was celebrated by putting flowers and flags on their graves. In 1882, the holiday was changed to Memorial Day to remember Americans who died serving in any war. Memorial Day is the last Monday in May or May 30. This year, it is celebrated on Monday, May 30th.

Veterans Day is sometimes marked by a minute of silence at 11am on November 11 to mark the end of WWI, then called Armistice Day. In 1954, Armistice Day became Veteran’s Day and is a day to honor all U.S. Veterans. It is now celebrated on the second Monday of November.

How are you celebrating Memorial Day this year?

Memorial Day (or Veterans Day) Books for Kids

The Wall by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler

A boy and his father visit Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. in search of
the boy’s grandfather’s name. It’s a somber moment for everyone standing in front of the memorial: the vet in the wheelchair, and older couple, and for the boy and his father. The grandfather died at the time when the boy’s father was the same age as his son. They located the name and do a tracing. The boy has another idea of how to pay tribute to his grandfather using his school photograph.

This picture book does a beautiful job honoring those that died fighting for their country. The endnote says that there are 58,000 names on the wall, with other names constantly added as the remains of those “missing in action” are found. [picture book, ages 6 and up]

The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson

Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh has a personal story about Moina, the Poppy Lady. In her attic, there is a box with poppy pinned to a handwritten postcard. It was sent to her mother, then the fiancée of her father, by Moira. He was one of many, many soldiers that she lent a kind ear to. Can the kindness and caring of one person ripple through the world from one century into the next? The story of Moina Belle Michael, not a household name by any means, proves that it can! [advanced picture book, ages 6 and up]

Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin, illustrated by Bryan Langdo

Celebrate moms who double as superheroes, serving in the military! They build buildings, fly helicopters, find missing people and dangerous objects, fix military vehicles from tanks to airplanes, heal the wounded, and lead battalions. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin, illustrated by Bryan Langdo

These dads jump out airplanes, use night vision, drive tanks, wear camouflage, carry weapons, and have a platoon. They are like superheros; they are American soldiers! [picture book, ages 4 and up]


Veterans Day by Meredith Dash

Did you know that there was controversy over which day Veterans Day should be celebrated? The fascinating history of Veterans Day is explained in this picture book for very young readers. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

The Veterans Day Visitor: 2nd Grade Friends by Peter Catalanotto and Pamela Schembri

Emily’s grandfather is shocked that she’s in 2nd grade but doesn’t know about Veterans Day. She thinks it’s to celebrate animal doctors! He decides to visit her class to make a presentation. Her grandfather is a veteran so he has great stories to tell, but he’s also has narcolepsy so he falls asleep unexpectedly. Emily’s worried he will fall asleep in class! [early chapter book, ages 6 through 9]

Postcards from Pismo by Michael Scotto

10-year-old Felix Maldonado has a school project to write a letter to a soldier fighting in Afghanistan. To his surprise, his soldier, Marcus,  writes him back and soon Felix begins to rely on his for life advice, especially after he gets bullied and his older brother enlists in the military. Told entirely in letters, emails and postcards from Felix to Marcus, Postcards from Pismo is a coming of age story that tackles what it means to be brave, both at home, in school facing bullies, and on a battle field. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Poppy Crafts for Kids

Construction Paper Poppy

My son made this poppy at school using construction paper, a brad, and a pipe cleaner.

Step 1: Cut five red petals out of red construction paper.

Step 2: Cut a circle out of black construction paper.

Step 3: Cut slits in the black circle towards the center but not all the way to the center.

Step 4: Line up the petals and the black circle. Insert the brad to connect them.

Step 5: Attach a green pipe cleaner in the back for the stem.

poppy art project for Veterans Day poppy art project for Veterans Day

Poppy Paintings

My oldest daughter, Grasshopper and Sensei, painted both these poppy paintings inspired by Emil Nolde.

Poppy Paintings

For this art project, my daughter used watered down acrylic paint but water color will work just as well.

Step 1: Wet the watercolor paper so that it’s moist but not dripping.

Step 2: Load your paintbrush up with paint and carefully drop it in, letting it bleed into a circle. Each circle will become a flower.

Step 3: Let the first round of paint dry about half way, and then drop in dark brown or black dots in the center.

Step 4: When the paper is completely dry, add in the stems.

Poppy Paintings

My daughter used acrylic paint on canvas board to make this painting. She painted a background of light peach and then dropped in circles of color to make the flowers. After it dried, she added in the black centers.

My Own Poppy Paintings

Here’s my own attempt at painting 15 minutes a day. I’m using an Emil Nolde photograph of poppies.

I love the poppies by Emil Nolde. Here’s a video of those plus my own attempt.

Here are more great poppy projects:

P is for Poppy from that artist woman.

P is for Poppy art project for kids

Poppy Coffee Filters from Art Bar Blog

Poppy Coffee Filters

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Poppies from Painted Paper

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Memorial Day Books & Art Projects for Kids

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I love the Hero Mom and Hero Dad series. Great suggestions for military families. I have seen the Poppy Lady, but haven’t read it. Must do so. I’m always searching for new books for Memorial Day. There are some interesting sites I’ve shared in the past you may be interested in, TAPS good grief camps held Memorial Day Weekend in D.C. Our son and his family went after their son became a casualty of war. I’m not going to publicize this year. You may want to check it out on my blog.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…Playing from the HeartMy Profile

  2. Wonderful suggestions and early enough so educators and parents can plan activities. I found a few books on your list I’d like to read myself.
    Mona AlvaradoFrazier recently posted…An Inspiring and Compassionate Birthday WishMy Profile

  3. Love the books and art projects you have picked to feature in this post!
    MaryAnne recently posted…California Redwood Tree Facts for KidsMy Profile

  4. I love the poppy art ideas! They are inspiring! What a wonderful collection of books too; just in time for memorial day.
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Art Project #9: Fingerprint DandelionsMy Profile

  5. Really loved your post and it amazing. I always try to read something like this and I got your blog. Defiantly I will come again to read more interesting stories. Thanks for the sharing.

  6. Love all the poppy activities! And yes, Memorial Day is one of several holidays that there is a dearth of decent picture books for. We always get teachers asking for them, and for some topics there just isn’t much out there.
    Jennifer recently posted…The Hidden Oracle by Rick RiordanMy Profile

  7. Erin

    I love your blog! I found it searching for books to read with kids for Memorial Day in my blog post I linked and credited to you. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Perfect post for this time of year!
    Books4Learning recently posted…Fairy Tale Spotlight: Little Red Riding Hood (Modern & Fractured Tales)My Profile

  9. You are amazing, Mia. Love all the different lists of books you come up with. Thanks for sharing with all of us!
    Cheryl Carpinello recently posted…Meet YA Author R. M ArceJaegerMy Profile

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