10 Great Picture Books for Military Families
by Chanel Cleeton
As a military spouse, I’ve seen firsthand the unique challenges families face. Military life is full of ups and downs, complicated acronyms, long hours, and dreaded deployments. For adults, military life can be unpredictable and stressful. For kids, even more so, as they serve alongside their parents, navigating the confusing and adventurous role of a military family.
Whenever I find myself overwhelmed or stumped by a problem, I always turn to books. One of the most useful gifts I’ve received from a fellow military spouse was a copy of Meredith Leyva’s Married to the Military, a useful primer on the military. If you’re like me and find solace in books and are looking for resources to share with your children to explain military life, this list of picture books will comfort and inform. From the highs of reunions to the lows of separations, these reads are excellent resources for families along their military journey.
If you have a deployed family member, this book is a great resource to help children understand family separation. Night Catch offers a fun game for children to play with their loved ones, which will connect family members despite the miles between them.
I Love You Near and Far
This story is helpful in explaining family separation as a result of military life or divorce. It also covers the topic of living away from extended family like grandparents, aunts, and uncles in a charming and heartwarming manner.
Love, Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom
This is a wonderful book to teach your children about writing letters to deployed parents, and it illustrates ways to keep in touch and share important events when you’re separated by distance. Love, Lizzie is a beautifully rendered story that will tug at your heartstrings.
H is for Honor
Reading H is for Honor is a fun way to teach your kids the ins and outs of military lingo. This book explains the different military branches and helps children understand the sacrifices their parents make and the bravery they exhibit.
I Miss You!: A Military Kid’s Book About Deployment
This fun and informative book aims to help children and their parents navigate the emotions and stresses related to deployments. The author draws on her experience as a social worker to create a guide that encourages communication between families as they navigate difficult situations.
Lily Hates Goodbyes
An interactive storybook to help young children navigate the difficulty of deployments, this book helps kids understand the scary moments of family separation while also showing the joy of reunions. Children will learn to better comprehend their own emotions as they connect with Lily’s journey.
Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops
Inspired by her granddaughter Natalie’s experience with her father’s deployment, Jill Biden highlights the support children can receive from their community during a parent’s deployment and offers tips for kids to cope during separations. Culminating with a happy reunion, this beautifully illustrated text is one for the keeper shelf.
Hero Mom and Hero Dad
The perfect texts for children whose parents serve in the military, Hero Mom and Hero Dad illustrate the big and small acts of heroism military parents undergo each day. With fun pictures, these books explain the realities of military jobs to kids.
A Paper Hug
Sharing a paper hug with a deployed family member is an excellent way for kids to connect with loved ones who are far away. Heartfelt and emotional, this book does a wonderful job of helping kids express their emotions during separations.
Countdown ’til Daddy Comes Home
If you’re waiting for a loved one to return from deployment or an extended TDY, this is a wonderful resource for teaching children to navigate the exciting, and at times tough, countdown.
Which books have you found beneficial in navigating the challenges of military life?
Chanel Cleeton is the author of On Broken Wings, the newest book in her military-inspired Wild Aces Romance series. Originally a Florida girl, Chanel moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise and a fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure.