In Eve Bunting’s book, The Wall, a young boy and his father visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. They have traveled a long way to see the monument and it is the first time for the boy. He carefully observes other visitors, noting their sadness. Among them, he sees people embracing, mementos that are left in remembrance of loved ones, and a group of girls visiting on a field trip.
The boy learns that even though remembering those who have served our country and lost their lives is sad, it’s important not to forget them. We honor them by remembering them.
The names are the names of the dead. But the wall is for all of us.
Together, the father and son admire this beautiful piece of architecture. This is not mentioned in the book, but it was designed by Maya Lin. She won a competition to design the memorial while she was in college at Yale. People often refer to her as the architect of light and lines. This style is definitely evident in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. You might enjoy learning more about her by reading the picture book Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines.
Consider the 58,000 names listed on this memorial located in Washington D.C. This book is a great reminder of those soldiers and the many other veterans who fought numerous wars in our country’s history.
I enjoy these water color illustrations by Ronald Himler. His style is perfect for this book because it fits the mood of the memorial. It feels somber and reflective. There is a good amount of movement in his pictures as people come and go. You know this of a busy place like Washington D.C. and have likely experienced it yourself. Himler and Eve Bunting have collaborated on a number of children’s books. I have shared several others in the “other books” section at the bottom of this post.
- Consider some of the things the boy observes while he’s at the wall. A good conversation might begin with naming these observations.
- Then talk about the lesson he learns based on the things he sees.
- This book would also be a good lead to discussing the importance of expressing your feelings.
- Is it okay for the boy to feel sad?
- Do you think the father is sad?
- How can you tell?
- Then, move your conversation to make personal connections.
- Have you ever felt sad?
- Can you relate to the boy or the father?
- If death or loss has come up in your family, you might use this opportunity to talk about it in connection to the father’s loss.
Finally, in honor of Memorial Day (observed on the last Monday in May), be sure to talk about the purpose of this holiday. Memorial Day is celebrated in honor of those who died during battle while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is different from Veterans Day, celebrated on November 11th, which is to honor all of those who have served in the military.
Other Books by Eve Bunting
You might also be interested in our Summer Reading List recommendation for board books that includes Eve Bunting’s Flower Garden.
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