You can't think about peace in any meaningful way without also thinking about war, oppression, injustice, poverty, and all the other terrible things that work against peace in the world. Nor should we discuss war with young people without also talking about peace as a viable option, peace as the way, not just as a distant goal. Children's books on these subjects tend to address one or more of these themes:
- War and oppression
- The nature of conflict
- Peace and peacemaking.
Some complicate the picture, raising questions about why wars persist and renew, why new conflicts keep flaring up, and whether we have any reason to hope.
War and Oppression
Thomas Allen, Remember Pearl Harbor, National Geographic, 2002
Avi, Don't You Know There's a War On? HarperCollins, 2001
Eve Bunting, Gleam and Glow, illus. by Peter Sylvada, Harcourt, 2001
Eve Bunting, The Wall, illus. by Ronald Himler, Clarion, 1990
Eve Bunting, Terrible Things, illus. by Stephen Gammell, Jewish Pub. Soc., 1989
Jim Carnes, Us and Them: A History of Intolerance in the United States, Oxford University Press, 1999. Introduction by Justice Harry Blackmun
Jane Cutler, My Wartime Summers, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1994
Patricia Reilly Giff, Lily's Crossing, Delacorte, 1998
Alison Leslie Gold, A Special Fate: Chiune Sugihara, Hero of the Holocaust, Scholastic, 2000
Florence Parry Heide, Sami and the Time of the Troubles, Clarion, 1992
Norman Jorgensen, In Flanders Fields, illus. by Brian Harrison-Lever, Simply Read Books, 2003. Picture book for older children.
Kathy Kacer, Clara's War, Second Story Press, 2001
Judith Kerr, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
M.E. Kerr, Linger
M.E. Kerr, Slap Your Sides
Rukhsana Khan, The Roses in My Carpets, Stoddart Kids, 1998
Ji Li Liang, Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution, HarperCollins, 1998
Lois Lowry, Number the Stars
George Ella Lyon, Cecil's Story, illus. by Peter Catalanotto
Toshi Maruki, Hiroshima No Pika, HarperCollins, 1982
Milton Meltzer, Warfare: From the Stone Age to Space Age
Walter Dean Myers, Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam, HarperCollins, 2002
Han Nolan, If I Should Die Before I Wake, Harcourt, 1994.
Linda Sue Park, When My Name Was Keoko, Clarion, 2002
Graham Salisbury, Under the Blood Red Sun
Mervet Sha'ban and Galit Fink, If You Could Be My Friend, Orchard, 1998
Maxine Trottier, Flags, Stoddart Kids, 1999
Hana Volavkova, I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp, Schocken Books, 1994
Andrea Warren, Surviving Hitler
Peace and Peacemaking
Deepa Agarwal, ed., There's Another Way! Stories of Peace, Love & Friendship, Madhuban/Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1998
Jimmy Carter, Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation, Puffin, 1995
Caroline Castle, For Every Child: The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Phyllis Fogelman Books, in collaboration with UNICEF, 2001
Cathryn Clinton, A Stone in My Hand, Candlewick, 2002
Eleanor Coerr, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. illus. by Ronald Himler, G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Barbara Cohen, The Secret Grove, illus. by Michael J. Deraney, McIntosh and Otis, Inc. and Union of American Hebrew Congregation, 1985.
Jane Cutler, The Cello of Mr. O, illus. by Greg Couch, Dutton, 1999
Tomie DePaola, The Knight and the Dragon, Putnam, 1980
Laurie Dolphin, Georgia to Georgia: Making Friends in the USSR, photos by E. Alan McGee, Tambourine Books, 1991. A boy from Atlanta, Georgia, has the opportunity to stay with a boy his age in Tbilisi, Georgia. This Georgia was then a republic of the Soviet Union--now it is independent.
Ann Durell and Marylyn Sachs, Editors, The Big Book for Peace, Dutton, 1990
Sheila Hamanaka, ed., On the Wings of Peace: Writers and Illustrators Speak Out for Peace, Clarion, 1995
Georgia Heard, ed., This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort, Candlewick, 2002
Roberto Innocenti, Rose Blanche, Creative Editions 1985; Harcourt 1996. Picture book for older children.
Jane Kurtz, The Storyteller's Beads, Harcourt, 1998
Judy Lalli, 40 Ways to be a Peaceful Person
Judy Lalli, I Like Being Me (Poems for children about Feeling Special, Appreciating Others and Getting Along)
Judy Lalli, Make Someone Smile
Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand, Viking, 1936
Barbara A. Lewis, The Kid's Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose-And Turn Creative Thinking into Positive Action,
Margaret Read MacDonald, Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About, Linnet Books, 1992
David McPhail, Mole Music, Henry Holt, 1999
Milton Meltzer, Ain't Gonna Study War No More: The Story of America's Peace Seekers
Lauren Murphy Payne, M.S.W., We Can Get Along: A Child's Book of Choices Leader's Guide also available for this book
Thomas Pettepiece and Anatoly Aleksin (Eds.), Face to Face, Philomel Books 1990. Young adult. "A collection of stories by celebrated Soviet and American writers." A portion of the sale of each book is donated to UNICEF.
Todd Parr, The Peace Book, Megan Tingley Books, 2004
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Editor, Stories for Free Children
Vladimir Radunsky, Manneken Pis: A Simple Story of a Boy Who Peed on a War, Atheneum, 2002
Star Rowe and Katya Lycheva, Making Friends, Henry Holt, 1987. The organization Children as the Peacemakers, conductor of international peace trips for children ages 8-14, honored the memory of Samantha Smith by inviting a Russian girl to visit the U.S. for a peace trip like the one Samantha had made to the Soviet Union. She would stay with an American girl her age. The book is subtitled "Katya from Moscow and Star from San Francisco: two eleven-year-olds discover America together."
Katherine Scholes, Peace Begins With You
Pete Seeger, Abiyoyo, illus. by Michael Hays, Macmillan, 1986
Samantha Smith (and her dad, both of whom were later killed in a plane crash), Journey to the Soviet Union, Little, Brown and Company, 1985. Middle grade photo essay. First-person account of Samantha's historic journey of friendship at age 10 to the Soviet Union. She was invited to visit by Russian leader Yuri Andropov after she wrote a letter telling him she was worried about the United States and Russia getting into a nuclear war.
Anais Vaugelade, The War, Carolrhoda, 2001
Jacqueline Woodson, The Other Side, illus. by E.B. Lewis, G.P. Putnam's, 2001
Virginia Euwer Wolff, Bat 6, Scholastic, 1998
The Nature of Conflict
Avi, Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel, Flare, 1993
Andrew Clements, The Landry News: A Brand New School Story, Simon & Schuster, 1999
Audrey Couloumbis, Summer's End, Putnam, 2005
David McKee, Tusk Tusk, Kane Miller, 1990
Dr. Seuss, The Butter Battle Book, Random House, 1984