December 6, 2017: 100th Anniversary of the Halifax Explosion

December 6, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion. On this day in 1917, a French munitions ship carrying explosives collided with a Belgian relief vessel in the Halifax Harbour. Two thousand people were killed and more than 9,000 were injured. Commemorate this historic event in your classroom or library with a Canadian children’s book.


A Blinding Light
Written by Julie Lawson
Nimbus Publishing, 2017
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5
Award-winning author Julie Lawson tells a riveting story of the Halifax Explosion and its aftermath, exploring the concepts of guilt, blame and taking ownership, the divide between the rich and poor, locals and immigrants, as well as the human bonds that arise in times of tragedy.


Broken Pieces: An Orphan of the Halifax Explosion
Written by Allison Lawlor
Nimbus Publishing, 2017
IL: Ages 7-10 RL: Grades 3-4
Follow 14-year-old Barbara Orr as she navigates post-explosion Halifax, learning about rescue efforts, the kindness of strangers, and the bravery of heroes like Vincent Coleman. Includes highlighted glossary terms, a detailed index, over 50 images and photographs.


Chaos in Halifax
Written by Cathy Beveridge
Ronsdale Press, 2004
IL: Ages 10-13 RL: Grads 5-6
Twelve-year-old Jolene is determined to find independence from her brother, Michael, during a family trip to research the Halifax explosion of 1917 for her father’s Museum of Disasters. When her grandfather finds a time crease into the past, Jolene and Michael find themselves in the midst of the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Michael tries to change history and leads them to the brink of destruction.


Explosion Newsie
Written by Jacqueline Halsey
Illustrated by Loretta Migani
Formac Publishing, 2015
IL: Ages 4-9 RL: Grades 2-3
Macky is a Halifax newsie who delivers the daily paper. But on December 6, 1917, two ships collide in the busy wartime harbour, and the explosion destroys much of Halifax. Macky is a survivor and he still has a job to do — get the news out to a confused and broken city where the newspaper is a vital source of information!


Halifax Explodes!
(Canadian Flyer Adventures, Book 17)
Written by Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrations by Patricia Ann Lewis-MacDougall
Owlkids Books, 2011
IL: Ages 7-10 RL: Grades 3-4
Emily and Matt land on Citadel Hill in Halifax, Nova Scotia — just as the Mont Blanc, a ship laden with explosives, explodes in the harbour! In the chaos that follows, the two friends find a small dog wandering around with Tim, a dazed young soldier who has just returned from fighting overseas in World War I. Can Emily and Matt help Tim find the dog’s owner, his niece, Carolyn?


Irish Chain
Written by Barbara Haworth-Attard
HarperTrophy Canada, 2002
IL: Ages 10-13 RL: Grades 5-6
Devastated at being held back in school, Rose can only turn to her Mam’s Irish Chain quilt for comfort. Rose desperately prays to God that she won’t have to go to school any more. The next day, December 6, 1917, two ships explode in Halifax’s harbour, resulting in the greatest human tragedy Canada has ever seen. Grief-stricken, Rose finds courage and inner strength from heroic stories stitiched into her great-grandmother’s quilt, and begins to piece her own life back together.


No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn
(Dear Canada)
Written by Julie Lawson
Scholastic Canada, 2006
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Gradse 4-5
Following the massive Halifax explosion of December 6, 1917, Charlotte writes in her diary of her search through the devastated city to find her twin brother Duncan after the rest of her family — except for her older brother, who is fighting in France in World War I — is killed.