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No matter how much you limit their screen time or turn off the news when they walk in the room, war is in the air. It may seem far away, but the images of the war in the Ukraine are a stark and ever-present reminder to us as parents that war is not an abstract concept or something in history books. It is happening now, every day, around the world.
So how do we talk to our kids about war to allow them to understand what it is without keeping them from sleeping at night? Anxiety in kids, especially in the pandemic swirl, is at an all-time high, and as their chief protectors, our instincts might be to avoid the topic. But giving children knowledge and information can actually help calm their anxiety and fears, if it’s done in a positive way.
Enter books, the stressed parent’s saving grace. Books can be conversation starters and a wonderful, visual way to help children process information and open discussion about big, scary ideas.
The following books are ones that we’ve read and feel can help foster a healthy discussion about the concept of war. What it means and what the consequences are, including the social and emotional components of what war does to the people, the communities, and the environment. These books are not straight history lessons; they are emotional, fictionalized retellings that will help parents and children alike find a foothold for greater discussions. We recommend reading them with your children to build bonds and, honestly, to make things less scary for you too, parents.
If you’d like to help, this organization is raising funds to buy books for the children of Ukraine and supporting Ukrainian publishers.
In the meantime, check out the books about war for kids to understand the impact of what’s going on.