This seems to be just as true in nonfiction for children as it in human relations in general. At least, that’s my interpretation of the relative lack of nonfiction titles for young children about American pacifism and peacemakers, diplomacy and diplomats, compared to titles focused on the wars we’ve been in.
Maybe it’s because war seems to have greater potential for drama, not to mention cooler technology. Or maybe — just maybe — this country simply has a richer history of conflict engagement than conflict avoidance, nonviolence, etc.
As peaceful topics go, Martin Luther King, Jr., is an obvious exception, and for this month’s U.S. history reading for 8-year-old S and 3-year-old F, I brought home Doreen Rappaport and illustrator Bryan Collier’s Martin’s Big Words.
There’s also a four-decades-old gem by Betty Baker and illustrated by Robert Lopshire, The Pig War.
Beyond that, I found a contemporary fiction picture book reflecting on our relationship with Japan (Jean Davies Okimoto and illustrator Doug Keith’s Dear Ichiro), whimsical cautionary tales both Seuss (The Butter Battle Book) and Seussian (Dav Pilkey’s debut, available here in its entirety), Todd Parr’s conceptual The Peace Book, and Vladimir Radunsky’s highly appealing (but, sadly, Belgiancentric) Manneken Pis: A Simple Story of a Boy Who Peed on a War.
(Many — shoot, maybe all — of these titles are featured at Weapons of Mass Instruction; thanks to Kids Lit for that link. I’d also hoped to bring home Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World, but whoever last checked that one out from my library has been sitting on it for nearly a month past its due date. When I get my hands on that lousy so-and-so who hasn’t turned in that razzafrackin‘ peace book, I’ll…)
Anyway, here’s my Memorial Day Weekend question for you all: For young children — readers of picture books through early chapter books — what other nonfiction history titles can you recommend on this topic?
Until next week — peace, y’all.
Hey Chris — I blogged about this awhile back — http://liz-scanlon.livejournal.com/12198.html
The book I discovered (A Parent/Teacher Guide to Children’s Books on Peace and Tolerance by Bob Blumenthal) doesn’t list nonfiction exclusively, but it’s a good resource…
My librarian friend just recommended the picture book THE GOLDEN RULE, by Ilene Cooper and Gabi Swiatowska. The text is very concept-driven and intoduces the idea of the Golden Rule as a moral principle that exists in many relgions and cultures. It is not as comprehensive as it could be, I would argue that the principle TRANSCENDS religion and culture altogether, and the “story” lacks a compelling narrative arc. All that said, I will still read this one to my kids … it is a great way to begin that all-important conversation about peace. As the book says, “It begins with you.”
Hola, que éxito, he visto tu blog en Blogs of Note… Felicidades! Muy interesante.
This is a wonderful post. I never thought about it. There are a lot of non-fiction books on people, but as you point out there are not many out there on the subject of keeping the peace. Challenge the minds of your young people at http://youthplay-org.blogspot.com.
The Pig War is my favorite. I’ll have to research other books for my boys. This is an important topic for this weekend. Thanks for bringing it up.
Has anybody considered writing a book for children about bullying in the playground and how children as young as 3 years settle their differences? It sometimes involves a few slaps in the face, a certain amount of hair-pulling and a general sit-down strike.
There is no money in peace only peacefulness, which in some of our minds is priceless. But to those shallow quantifying types who need to keep score war is the only answer.
What about What is Peace by Eton Boritzer? (What is Peace) He’s got an interesting series of What Is books on other topics, too. Not like much else out there for kids….
Hey, congrats on making it to Blogger’s “blogs of note” list!!! First time they’ve listed one that I’ve heard of!!!
Congrats on your forthcoming book. Just checking out your blog since it was “noteworthy” according to Google.
I like your observation about war/peace.
And, that Day-Glo thing caught my eye, since the firm is headquartered right here in Cleveland, Ohio.
I am confused. Are you saying there are children’s books about war? Huh?? You mean picture books…? For little ones? Aren’t they all mainly about some small event where there is a moral at the end? So in essence aren’t they about bringing about peace? Peace of mind, of soul, of community, of friendship? I am very confused…
I’m glad that you mentioned Dav Pilkey’s World War Won kids book. It was a treat to see the book that got his noteworthy career off the ground. As a children’s book writer and illustrator I really enjoy reading about others that are traveling a path similar to mine.
I am also confused. It does not take much. Perhaps, without body language, much is left to the imagination. I am also confused about the same things that snuffy mentioned.
Sometimes a good book about the blessings of peace is a book about war. I love Michael Foreman’s ‘War Game.’ It makes me cry everytime I read it.
different and interesting, keep it up, i’ll come back to visit again soon…erik