War & Peace October 30, 2017 – Posted in: Book News

In today’s world, parents are faced with the challenge of explaining violence, terrorism and
war to young children. Although difficult, these conversations are extremely important. They give
parents an opportunity to help their children feel more secure and understand the world in
which they live. The issues surrounding war and peace are some of the most complicated we face in our world and as such can be incredibly difficult to explain to children (and understand ourselves!).  We’ve put together here a collection of books that may help children to begin to think about conflict and peacemaking, both in their own lives and on a global scale.

For the youngest of children, who will not be able to understand matters of international conflict, here are a few books that focus on tolerance and conflict resolution at home:

Grumpy Frog

Grumpy Frog loves green, and he loves to hop, and he loves winning. But what happens when Grumpy Frog doesn’t win, or encounters – horror of horrors – animals who don’t look like him?  He gets very grumpy! A thoroughly entertaining and engaging book which can be used to explore some important themes: forgiveness, tolerance, co-operation, and how moods and behaviour affects others. Best for 3+

 Elmer and the Hippos

The elephants are not happy – the hippos have come to share the river because theirs has dried up. When they complain to Elmer that the river is over-crowded, everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant sets off to see if he can find a solution!  A beautifully-told, simple story that teaches the importance of cooperation, putting prejudices aside and working in unison. Best for 3+

Daisy Eat Your Peas

Daisy does NOT like peas. And there is NOTHING that will get her to eat them. Mum says she can have an extra pudding, a chocolate factory or a space rocket with double retro laser blammers – but it just won’t work! How are Daisy and her Mum ever going to be able to resolve the fussy eating and save teatime?  Great for a light-hearted look at persuasion and diplomacy! Best for 3+

The Squirrels Who Squabbled

Greedy squirrels Cyril and Bruce both have their sights on a very special prize – the very last nut of the season! As the nut bounces crazily though the forest, the squirrels race after it, between the trees, over boulders, down the river and – ARGH! – right to the edge of a waterfall! Working together might be the only way to save themselves now … Best for 3+

There are also some great picture books that explore the many issues surrounding war and peace, including immigration and human rights,  in thoughtful, age-appropriate ways:

Imagine

This beautifully illustrated version of John Lennon’s song Imagine vividly captures the message of the lyrics. Illustrator Jean Jullien chooses to make his central character an ordinary city pigeon. Travelling by train and boat as well as through the air it crosses the world, olive branch of peace in its beak. Best for 4+

Green Lizards vs Red Rectangles: A story about war and peace

The green lizards and the red rectangles are at war. But why? They fight and fight and fight – can they find a way to live peacefully side by side despite their differences?  The perfect platform to start conversations about the futility of war, this brave and brilliant story is visually stunning and full of clever details to pour over. Best for 4+

The Whisperer

A fantastic picture book about two gangs of cats who live in a scrap yard on the edge of the city and spend their lives fighting (encouraged by the mischievous rat, The Whisperer). But yet amongst the turmoil two young cats from opposite sides get together and try to make sense of their dilemma. A lovely love story… Romeo and Juliet with cats! Best for 5+

The Conquerors

There once was a large country that was ruled by a General. The General would take his army and attack all the countries around him until they were conquered. Eventually, there was only one small country left to conquer. However, this one did not resist but welcomed the soldiers – leading to the question, who really are the conquerors?   A perfect demonstration of the power of pacifism. Best for 6+

A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope

A beautiful picture book set in a landscape of poverty and war, but focused on a message of hope as a young boy tends to a small plant poking through the rubble.  As the tiny, green plant shoot grows it gives hope in a terribly bleak landscape, and eventually grows into a beautiful grapevine that covers the barbed wire and unites children on either side of the divide. Best for 7+

Azzi In Between

Azzi and her parents are in danger. They have to leave their home and escape to another country on a frightening journey by car and boat. In the new country they must learn to speak a new language, find a new home and Azzi must start a new school. Sarah Garland tenderly creates a story of hope from the troubled experience of immigration in this warm-hearted picture book. Best for 7+

The following are books for older readers, with beautiful stories woven around the effects of conflict and war:

Boy Overboard

Jamal loves playing football, which isn’t easy if your goalie only has one leg and you keep having to dodge landmines to get your ball back.  Jamal and sister Bibi want to lead Australia to victory in the World Cup, but that entails a journey from their homeland, Afghanistan where their family has upset the authorities, and a lengthy voyage overseas. Best for 9+

Shadow

In this passionate and touching story, the interlinked fortunes of an Afghan boy and the dog who helped him to escape from his war torn country and find sanctuary in the UK is full of emotion and tension. Ending up in a detention centre in the UK and facing deportation with his mother, Aman tells his desperate story to his friend Matt’s grandpa. Best for 9+

Oranges In No Man’s Land

A gripping story of a ten-year-old girl who risks death to make a life-saving dash through war-torn Beirut to reach a doctor living in enemy territory. It’s a remarkable tale of courage and hope in a country that has seen more than its fair share of bloodshed. Best for 10+

Red Leaves 

A powerful story of three young people are trying to find a way of making sense of their confusing and chaotic lives. Endorsed by Amnesty International:“we are proud to endorse Red Leaves because of its sensitive depiction of diversity and the human need for somewhere to call home. It’s a novel that encourages readers’ empathy, which is a big step towards understanding, tolerance and kindness – all values that help us to uphold human rights.”  Best for 10+

Illegal

This is a powerful and timely story about one boy’s epic journey across Africa to Europe.  Twelve-year-old Ebo’s terrifying story of travelling alone from his home in Africa in order to have the chance of a childhood, education and ultimately a safe way of life is brilliantly told in this graphic novel.  Forwarded with Nobel Laureate Elis Wiesel’s powerful quote, “You, who are so-called illegal aliens, must know that no human being is illegal”.  Best for 10+

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on 9 October, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause. She was shot point-blank on her way home from school. No one expected her to survive. Now, she is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. This is her story. Best for 11+

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life, and he knows the rules. But when he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. And then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever. Incredibly powerful and thought-provoking on big issues such as nationalism, war and refugees. Best for 12+

Close to the Wind

A war torn country – a town that is burning. A single ship waits at the port for those who can escape. How can a boy and his grandfather hope to get on board? And will they find his mother before it leaves? When Papa meets two old friends, he makes a deal that could save them all. But this is only the beginning of the journey for Malik… Best for 12+

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