5 Minutes for Books: America’s White Table

Each November 11, our country acknowledges the sacrifices made by and honor given to our military personnel on Veteran’s Day. For many families, military service is a fact of life for their children, and for others, it’s an abstract concept that might be difficult for young children to comprehend. Margot Theis Raven’s picture book America’s White Table fits the bill in either case, in affirmation or as a resource.

I was personally unaware of the concept of “the white table,” set in military dining halls since the Vietnam War as a remembrance of the service men and women who have been held as prisoners of war or are missing in action. Set with specific meaningful items, the white table holds a special place in the hearts of our soldiers. In this story, three sisters assist their mom in setting a white table in their home for a Veteran’s Day dinner to be shared with their uncle who served in the Vietnam War. Their mother gently explains the concept and tells the story of their uncle’s experience as a prisoner of war. While tackling an obviously heavy subject, this book does so in a compassionate and sensitive manner, conveying the importance without being graphic or political.

Interspersed throughout the book are the first verse lyrics to “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” printed lightly and apart from the story’s text, almost like visual background music. The soft illustrations evoke emotion, and the color palette matches the quiet and reverent tone of the story. In what I’m seeing as a trend with many of the Sleeping Bear Press releases, an informative page appears at the end of the book providing more context and history, which I see as a fantastic springboard for discussions between parents and children after reading the book together.

America’s White Table emphasizes honoring, remembering and respecting our service members, perfect for Veteran’s Day, and every day. The lovely folks at Sleeping Bear Press are offering up three copies for giveaway (U.S. and Canada only, please). To be entered, leave one comment here. Feel free to publicly acknowledge your own loved ones who have honored our country with their service. We’ll announce the winners in the book column next Monday.

5 Minutes for Books staff reviewer Dawn’s own father Grant Courchaine and grandfather William Dery were proud members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army respectively. Family and books are common themes on her blog, my thoughts exactly.

The winner of last week’s book, The Carousel Painter, is #12 Angie.


  1. says

    I’d love to win this to share with my son. My father is a Vietnam veteran and my grandfather is a WWII veteran who landed on Utah Beach on D-Day. My son loves hearing stories from his grandpa and great grandpa, and I think the whole extended family would enjoy reading this book together.

  2. Wendy says

    I think this book looks wonderful. I would love to share t with my boys. My dad who just passed away in September was a veteran.

  3. says

    My grandpa, who has since passed on, served in WWII. I honestly don’t know much about what he did – he and my father didn’t get along – but I can still say with pride that I have a veteran in my family.

  4. says

    This sounds like a very interestig book. I have not heard about the white table and would enjoy reading this book and learning more about the tradition.

  5. says

    Hey I meant to tell you to check out http://www.angeltots.com they have a wonderful portal for parents to build safe and moderated online communities surrounding their children’s childcare activities. Its a great place to share photos, videos, events, and discussions. Check it out!

  6. Benita G . says

    My dad was a veteran; my husband is a veteran and yet, I’ve never heard of the white table. Thanks for the opportunity.


  7. says

    I have never heard of this either. Married to a Marine (23 years in) and my dad and his dad are both Navy guys. I may have to learn more about this before Wednesday!

  8. Marj M. says

    I have never heard of the white table and would love to read the book. I can proudly say I have 2 veteran uncles. God Bless Them all.

  9. Juli says

    I had never heard of this tradition. I would love to add this book to my collection. Both my father and grandfather served in the military. Thanks to all who have served and are continuing to serve our wonderful country providing us with the freedom we have.

  10. Katherine Frazier says

    I have never heard of a white table and would love to read this book. My in laws were both WW2 vets Navy and Marines, my father was a Marine and my stepson is currently serving in the Marine Corps.

  11. Pamela S says

    My father and my father-in-law both were in WWII. My father-in-law was even captured at the Battle of the Bulge and held in a POW camp until the end of the war. Our family is very patriotic and appreciative of everything that service men & women do and sacrifice for our country.

    I’ve never heard of the “White Table” but would love to read this book and share it with family members. Thanks so much!

  12. Renee C says

    My dad is a veteran, as were both of my grandfathers, but I’d never heard of the white table. Would love to read the book.

  13. Sharon A says

    My father in law saw service in WWII and I had not heard of the white table until today. I would like to share this book with others.


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