Books That Connect Me to D-Day

D-Day: The Normandy Invasion

U.S. Army/Flickr Creative Commons


Friday, June 6, 2014, is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day the Allies landed at Normandy in France during World War II and started their march east to Nazi Germany.

I think D-Day became real for me years ago when I read The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan.

Now, I’m working on D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, 1944 by Rick Atkinson and Kate Waters (2014), which is adapted for children from Atkinson’s book The Guns at Last Light. I found D-Day in the children’s section of one of my local bookstores, but I think most kids would not enjoy it until high school–partly because most 20th century American history doesn’t seem to be covered in classes until high school–unless they are history or military enthusiasts.

I don’t have any family stories about it: my grandfather served in the Pacific, and my great-uncle was sent to France after D-Day. But a dear friend, Enfys McMurry, wrote a book about the history of my previous hometown, and she included stories of people I knew or knew of (or knew of their family) who participated in the invasion. Her book is Centerville: A Mid-American Saga (History Press, 2012).

What’s your, or a friend or family member’s, D-Day story? What’s your favorite book or movie about D-Day? Do you know of other kids books about D-Day?



  1. Steve Arnold

    No family stories here – like your grandfather, my dad was in the Pacific (on a PT boat), which brings it’s own set of interesting stories, though. D-Day was such a crucial event, the further we get from it in real time the more important it becomes to preserve this history in quality books for kids and adults.

    • Deb Watley

      Yes, it is more important. And it’s wonderful how many more stories we’re aware of now because they’ve been unclassified, like the Navajo Code Talkers. How many more stories are out there that people just haven’t been allowed to talk about? I bet your dad does have some interesting PT stories! I know there were many soldiers, but did he ever meet JFK?

  2. Steve Arnold

    He never met Kennedy, but he heard about the incident at the time it happened. I was with my parents today, Dad was telling how his PT boat was part of the 30th Squadron, and the squadron go their orders to deploy to Europe for the invasion. But Dad’s boat and two others had already been sent to Panama, so the decision was made not to bring them back to Miami; so those three boats became part of the 31st Squadron and the other nine boats ended up in the D-Day invasion. There are so many stories he has and I really need to start getting as many of them as I can recorded in some manner.

    • Deb Watley

      It’s wonderful your dad missed D-Day, though I’m sure what he went to was just as bad or worse. My dad was drafted during Vietnam, but he was sent to Germany where he met my Air Force sergeant mom!

      I plan to write down family stories, but haven’t done it yet. We do have a cassette recording (& maybe a video recording) of an interview my mother-in-law’s parents did years ago. Pretty cool!

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