A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day by Leah Henderson, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Published by Harry N. Abrams

A Day for Rememberin': The First Memorial Day: Henderson, Leah, Cooper,  Floyd: 9781419736308: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Eli misses his dad, who’s been working long days for the last week and a half.  He wants to help, but his parents tell him school is the place for him.  Now that the family is free, Eli’s parents want him to get all the education he can.  Finally, on day 10, he’s allowed to go paint the fence surrounding the new cemetery where Union prisoners of war are buried.  The next morning, everyone dresses in their best clothes, arms full of flowers, to march together in honor of those dead soldiers.  The children lead the way to the cemetery, where everyone decorates the graves with the flowers.  They spend the rest of the day listening to speeches, praying, and celebrating their hard-won freedom. Includes an author’s note, additional information on the origins of Decoration Day, a timeline, two photos; notes, and a bibliography. 48 pages; grades 2-6.

Pros:  A fascinating look at an early (maybe the earliest; the history is unclear) celebration of Decoration Day, the holiday that eventually became Memorial Day.  Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper has captured the day magnificently, and the text, combined with the extensive back matter, will give kids a new perspective on the day.

Cons:  There was a of information covered for a picture book. If you’re doing this as a Memorial Day read-aloud, plan on spending some time…I had to go back for a second read to get it all.

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