Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The Reality of War
studies classes study the worlds wars and the impact war has on a
global society. Students learn about ancient wars and the more modern
wars that have been fought in the name of freedom. They know about the
American Revolution, the Civil War, and World Wars I and II. Some
students know about the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and the
Persian Gulf War. Before the events of September 11, 2001, students in
Americas schools knew little about the personal tragedies related to
war. War was simply something that happened in books, in another time,
and on foreign lands. Now, war surrounds themon television, radio, and
in film. Some know firsthand what it feels like to lose a parent to
terrorists, and others wait eagerly in front of the television in hopes
of gaining a glimpse of a family member or friend who may be in the
Iraqi desert or on the streets of Baghdad. Like the main characters in
the novels in this guide, the innocence of Americas children has been
marked by violence. A new page of history is being written every day,
and it is being done before the eyes of the worlds youngest citizens.
this reason, it is extremely important that parents and teachers talk
with children about war, and offer hope that the world might someday
find a peaceful solution to global conflict. Sometimes it is difficult
to find the words to explain the complex issues of war, but books are
always a good way to spark understanding and conversation. This guide
offers discussion for the following books:
by Paul Zindel; Girl of Kosovo
by Alice Mead; Lord of the Nutcracker Men
by Iain Lawrence; Flags of our Fathers
by James Bradley with Ron Powers, adapted for young people by Michael French; Forgotten Fire
by Adam Bagdasarian; and For Freedom
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Pre-Reading Activity
students in a discussion about the recent war in Iraq, and how it was
reported in the news. Divide the class into three groups, and assign
each group one of the major newspapers or magazines to read. Ask that
they read a few issues of the publications during the time of the war
and take note of the major headlines, the views of the journalists,
etc. Allow students time at the end of each week to share their
findings. What conclusions can be drawn about the role of journalists
Questions about the Book
- Engage the class in a discussion about the meaning of patriotism. What is the relationship between duty and patriotism?
- Private Tex Stanton, Second Platoon, Easy Company said, Life was never
regular again. We were changed from the day we put our feet in that
sand. (p. 69) Discuss how the Battle of Iwo Jima changed the men who
fought there. Compare and contrast how each of the six flag raisers
- Discuss the qualities of a hero. Jack Bradley
never viewed himself as a hero and felt that the real heroes of the
Battle of Iwo Jima were the men who gave their lives. What role did the
media play in making the six flag raisers heroes? How might these six
men be considered symbols of all the heroic men who fought at Iwo Jima?
In the book, James Bradley discusses the difference between a hero and
a celebrity. How did President Roosevelt turn these heroes into
- Discuss the meaning of the inscription Uncommon
Valor Was A Common Virtue that is on the face of the bronze statue of
the six flag raisers that was unveiled at Arlington National Cemetery
on November 10, 1954. The three surviving flag raisers attended the
unveiling ceremony. James Bradley states that after that day, Never
again would they meet, never again would they serve the photograph.
(p. 178) How had these men served the photograph? Discuss whether new
generations who visit the bronze statue can fully understand the impact
the photograph had on the American people when it was first published.
For more activities on Images of War, see these titles:
For Freedom by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Lord of the Nutcracker by Iain Lawrence, Girl of Kosovo by Alice Mead, Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley with Ron Powers adapted for young people by Michael French, The Gadget by Paul Zindel, and Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian.
by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, the South Carolina
Governors School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, SC.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Bantam Books.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.