The Manhattan Public Library serves a wide variety of patrons, including many military families from nearby Fort Riley. This month for Read MHK, we’re focusing on military life. Our children’s department has several titles focusing on military families to help explain to children what their caregivers’ jobs are, as well as help them cope with deployments.
“Hero Dad” and “Hero Mom” by Melinda Hardin focus on the wide variety of jobs that military parents can have. A varied group of children list off what their dad or mom does in the military, in comparison to a superhero. So, while some moms have the super healing power of being a medic, instead of a sidekick the dad has a battalion. Both books lightly touch on deployment, saying that sometimes mom or dad has to go away for a while but that’s OK because superheroes do too. These are both great books for showing the love and pride of having a military parent.
Moving with the military can be rough on children, especially when they have to leave people, or even pets, behind. “Sometimes Love” by Katrina Moore tells the story of a young girl and her beloved dog. The book starts with a toddler receiving a new puppy and shows all the shenanigans the two get up to. But when the mom gets a new assignment and the family has to move away for a while, they have to leave their pet behind with a service. Even though it’s hard, the girl knows that her dog will be well taken care of and that they’ll be reunited soon. The tale ends when the family comes back and an older girl and her adult dog are back together and happier than ever. This is a very warmly-colored book that can be helpful during a tough moving situation.
It can be hard for children when their parents are away on a deployment, but “Brave Like Me” by Barbara Kerley can be used as a helpful discussion tool for these times. Kerley explains the different emotions a child can feel when their parent is away: sadness that their parent can’t be there, anger that they’re missing things, and fear for their parent far away doing a difficult job. However, she also highlights the good things, like talking to their parent on the phone or with letters, and appreciating the people around them who support them while their parent is gone. This title has resources in the back for dealing with separation, talking about the different branches of the military, as well as a note to caregivers and further resources.
In “Deployment: One of Our Pieces Is Missing” by Julia Cook, a family of puzzle pieces tries to make things fit again after a deployment. The family has two military parents and when dad goes away on deployment, both children and mom have to fill in his space in the family to keep things running smoothly. After they finally get into a smoother routine, it’s time for dad to come back. Even though they are so excited to have him back, he doesn’t quite fit in the space he left. Eventually, they go to a “frame fitter,” a therapist, to get the tools necessary to adjust their family structure for all of them to fit better. This book is excellent for families trying to get back into a normal groove after a deployment, particularly, to explain to children why things aren’t exactly how they were before and how reaching out for help can be for the best.
“My Dad’s Deployment: A Deployment and Reunion Activity Book for Young Children” by Julie LaBelle can easily be used as a tool for any parent’s deployment. The book is filled with activities like a deployment time capsule, ways to identify feelings, and making a growth chart. It also has crafts for when the parent comes home like making a welcome home sign and thinking about how both the child and parent have changed since they’ve been apart. A great toolkit for parents to use with many projects to help the transition into and back from deployment.
Many of the titles listed here can be found in our children’s room’s parent and teacher section. This section holds titles that are geared towards some of the tougher discussions we have to have with children, such as deployment, adoption, or death of a family pet, as well as resources for teachers and homeschool parents. Check them out at the Manhattan Public Library.
Alex Urbanek is a collection services librarian at Manhattan Public Library.