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The Wall
Inspires Letters to Veterans


Return to Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives: Lessons for Memorial Day



  • Arts & Humanities:
    Language Arts
  • Arts & Humanities:
  • Social Studies:
  • Social Studies:
    -U.S. History
  • Social Studies:



  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12


Brief Description

Eve Bunting's The Wall inspires students to write letters to veterans at local veterans' hospitals.



Students will
  • learn about the Vietnam War by responding to the words, illustrations, and symbolism in Eve Bunting's The Wall.
  • make inferences based on the book's illustrations.
  • discuss how the book illustrates themes such as death and "life goes on."
  • write letters to veterans at a local Veteran's Hospital.



Veterans, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, service, Vietnam, soldiers, war

Materials Needed

  • a copy of The Wall, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler
  • letter-writing materials
  • Internet access (optional)


Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students listen and look at the illustrations as you read aloud The Wall by Eve Bunting. The Wall is an excellent book to share with students of all ages; its powerful message can be interpreted at many levels. Reading The Wall will lead to a lesson in which students write letters or cards to U.S. military veterans in a local Veteran's Hospital.

Reading The Wall
Introduce and read aloud The Wall, Eve Bunting's thoughtful and moving book about a father and son who visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in search of the boy's grandfather's name. With little detail, the book's words and pictures paint for today's generation a picture of a war that affected the United States in many ways.

After reading the book, let students share their impressions of it. Following are some questions you might ask to lead the discussion:

  • The book did not give much information about the Vietnam War, but what did you learn about the war from the words and pictures in the book?
  • What did you see in the book's pictures that shows how people were affected by the war? (Students might infer some of these things: People were hugging and crying because they found the name of a loved one and were remembering that person; people left things like flags, flowers, letters, and stuffed animals behind as tributes or mementos to people who were killed in the war; a man in a wheelchair, without legs, might have been a soldier in the war and might be remembering his fallen buddies)
  • As they visit the wall, are the father and the boy feeling the same things? How is visiting the wall a different experience for the boy and the father?
  • Why, do you think, did the father take out a pencil and make a rubbing of the name on the wall?
  • Why did the boy put his picture against the wall?
  • Why were others touching the names on the wall? (Students might infer that they were touching the names with love; the name is all that is left of a lost loved one.)
  • Why did the author and illustrator include a group of girls playing as others searched the wall for their loved ones' names? (The girls stand as a symbol of life marching on in spite of the loss suffered in the war. The final image of the book, as the boy and his grandfather walk away from the wall, offers another reassuring impression that life goes on after war and death.)
  • You cannot see the faces of the boy and his father as they walk away from the wall, but how do you think they are feeling?
  • How did the book make you feel? Do all books have to make you feel happy?

Follow-Up Activities


  • Students write thoughtful letters to veterans.
  • Students might respond to the following writing prompt: Most books tell a story, but as I read the words inThe Wall I don't see that they tell much of a story. Would you agree or disagree?

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

Find more Memorial Day activity ideas in Education World's Memorial Day Archive.

Click to return to this week's Lesson Planning article, Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives: Lessons for Memorial Day.


Last updated 05/23/2017