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Friday, 11 November 2011

Spotlight: Library Lessons: WWII in YA

This week and next week we are looking at WWII in the library lessons as a way of bringing Remembrance Day into focus for the pupils. When I asked for suggestions for  YA fiction incorporating WWII on twitter I had such an amazing response, so thank you to everyone for all your wonderful help. I have only incorporated 4 books that advance the discussions and because we have these available in the library. I just have to give a special thanks you to Kirsty of The Overflowing Library - she really is an amazing history teacher, her school is very, very lucky to have her. Check out both her Book reviews at The Overflowing Library and her history site at Mrs Connor Loves History which was such a great resource for me when doing my presentation.

To start the lesson there are books on the tables for the pupils to look through all about WWII. I chose WWII because I think a lot of pupils still have Grandparents that were alive at the time and it is easy for them to relate to.
We then discuss what interesting facts there are about Bridgend to do with WWII:
Island Farm: POW Camp 198 at Bridgend :: SS8978
This POW camp was the site of the Welsh Great Escape.
The huts were originally built as accommodation for the workers of Bridgend's wartime munitions factories - but the workers declined, preferring their own homes to the functional huts despite the long daily commute from distant towns.
After a spell housing American troops destined for Europe it was then re-purposed as a prisoner of war camp for captured German soldiers. It was during this time that the famous escape occurred leading to German soldiers roaming the Welsh countryside.
At the end of the war it became a holding area for the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials.
The site was then abandoned and it deteriorated until it was eventually levelled in the early 1990s. Only Hut 9 (the "Escape" hut) was preserved. Now the hut is enclosed in a tall metal fence.
The surrounding camp area is now so overgrown that it is rumoured to be protected habitat.

There was also a large munitions factory on the site that Asda use now. My sister informed me that my grandmother actually worked there. I remember a few years ago when they were clearing the land to build Asda the area had to be evacuated when they find a life bomb underneath the rubble.

The Royal Ordnance Factory at Bridgend employed 40,000 workers at its peak, the largest in Britain at that time. The workers were mainly female and travelled from as far a field as Monmouthshire and Carmarthenshire.

Following the book trailer for Duty Calls: Dunkirk by James Holland we discussed what it would have felt like to go to war at the age of 16. An age not far off for a few of the classes. Additionally how it would feel not to have a choice as to whether you went to war or not.

Following the book trailer for Annexed by Sharon Dogar  we talked about what it would feel like to be separated in society, to be made to stand out from everyone else and not in a good way and having your family torn away from you knowing that they were probably going to die.

Following the reading of the synopsis for Carrie's War by Nina Baldwin the discussion moved onto evacuation and how it would have felt like for both sides to have a stranger in their house.

The use of  The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak   brought the lesson nicely onto the topic of the book burning in Nazi Germany and I was able to emphasis the point that Library Lessons and being able to read is awesome, lol.

The rest of the presentation is self-explanatory and I have to say I have been so pleased with the response of all the classes to this topic. Priceless.


  1. I wish my girls went to your school! I think you did an amazing job. Just off to check Kirsty's other blog!

  2. The kids in your school are so lucky Emma, this looks like an awesome lesson! I know very little about the wars other than the books and poemsI've read in college. I think the only children's book I've read n war is Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. I think I need to read more of them, it'll be interesting to see who the events are portrayed to kids :) xx


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