What do we tell children about war? Every parent, teacher, and spiritual leader faces this challenge and has to decide based on what she or he knows about each child. For your consideration, we have collected some children's books that would be good entry points for these discussions. All are readily available in libraries and bookstores; all are important to have on hand in your homes, churches, synagogues, mosques, and community centers.

Although all these books are highly recommended, if we had to choose just two, we'd pick Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso's powerful retelling of a Bible story and Thich Nhat Hanh's true story of a Buddhist monk living in Vietnam during a war.

Cain and Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace
by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
The perfect children's book to use in discussing what causes wars and how to prevent them.

The Coconut Monk

by Thich Nhat Hanh
A children's story set in Vietnam that models the path of peace and nonviolence.

More Children's Books for Wartime

Here are 14 more recommended books on the themes of celebrating diversity, prayers and poems for peace and comfort, everyone can do something, and keeping hope alive.

Celebrating Diversity

  • God in Between by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
    You don't have to go search for God; God is near right now.
  • God's Paintbrush by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
    Seek God in the world all around you and even in your activities.
  • In God's Name by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
    There is no single right way to think or speak about the one God; God likes being called different names.
  • Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
    Nature gives us many images to describe God, all reminding us of God's presence everywhere.
  • We Share One World by Jane E. Hoffelt and Marty Husted
    Children from many cultures respond to the wonders of nature, revealing how much we all have in common.

Prayers and Poems for Peace and Comfort

  • Let There Be Light: Poems and Prayers for Repairing the World compiled and illustrated by Jane Breskin Zalben
    Prayer brings comfort and hope in times of crisis.
  • Peace on Earth: A Book of Prayers from Around the World collected and illustrated by Bijou Le Tord
    Prayers from many cultures lift your spirits.
  • This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort selected by Georgia Heard
    In times of tragedy, we realize the ties that bind us all together.

Everyone Can Do Something

  • Manneken Pis: A Simple Story of a Boy Who Peed on a War as told to Vladimir Radunsky
    You're never too young or too small to be a peacemaker.
  • The Three Questions based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth|
    It is possible to find inner peace.

Keeping Hope Alive

  • Butterflies Under Our Hats by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
    This Jewish folk tale is about a town that discovered something better than luck — hope.
  • The 11th Commandment: Wisdom from Our Children by the Children of America
    Kids know what is really important for these times.
  • I Wish Tonight by Lois Rock
    Imagine a better world and bring it into being by your positive deeds.

Extra! A Special Resource for Children:

50 Tips for Keeping Your Soul Alive in Tough Times
Animals, beauty, caretaking, dreams, idealism, joy, tears, and wonder are just some of the helpers available to children in wartime. And the gallery of Alice Garrard's pictures of children loving life in all kinds of situations provides even more encouragement.