Peace. Sometimes it can seem so far from reach that we forget that the best place, really the only place to begin, is with ourselves. Our book picks this month make the impossible seem possible, illuminating the ways in which small acts of mindfulness and caring can make a huge difference at home and in the world.
This year, International Day of Peace is September 21st and to celebrate, we suggest the following: Get cozy, really cozy on a sofa, or under a tree at the park with a little you love and just…read. No phones, no pressures, just choose a book or two and take a little time to prop open a window into another world. But by reading together, you’ll have helped a child to be a more empowered and empathetic citizen in a complex world. So, give one or more of these books about peace a chance, and see where they lead you and your little.
Deceptively simple and deliciously easy on the eyes, Susan Verde’s I Am Peace shows readers of all ages how peace unfolds naturally when we stop and really pay attention. Peter Reynolds’ beautiful illustrations are poignant reminders that our senses are pathways toward understanding our emotions and that our choices about how we react can be far more important that what we’re reacting to.
More Great Picks: Words and My Heart, The Peace Book, Thunder Boy Jr.
If Nobel Peace Prizes were handed out for Children’s Literature, Be The Change would top the list. Using a stubby pencil to illustrate how consumption leads to bigger problems, Mahatma Ghandi’s grandson weaves an unforgettable tale of how little acts of thoughtlessness can lead to big ones, showing how taking responsibility for the small things under our control, can pave the way for lasting changes on a huge scale.
Also Try: Malala’s Magic Pencil, Last Stop Market Street, Rulers of the Playground
A spiritual cousin to E.B. White’s classic, Charotte’s Web, Katherine Applegate’s Newberry Award Winning masterpiece is a must read for third graders and the adults who love them. Based on real events, The One and Only Ivan is told from the perspective of a tenderhearted gorilla who spends his days in a shopping mall, until he realizes that if he uses his voice, he just might have the power to bring freedom to his loved ones. Told in spare prose, The One and Only Ivan is literature at its most transformative – a masterclass in empathy cultivation that is perfect for kiddos transitioning from picture books to chapter books.
Other great choices: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of a Shopping Mall Gorilla, The Ant Bully, Enemy Pie, The Three Questions
When Ada and brother Jamie leave London to live with a gruff, grieving stranger in the English countryside in the run-up to World War II, it just might be the best thing that has ever happened to them. With its focus on disabilities, child abuse, war and grief it doesn’t seem likely to be one of the most inspiring children’s novels of our age, but Kimberly Brubacker Bradley’s Newberry Honor Book pulls it off. Heartbreaking and funny, its pitch-perfect characters illuminate the power of love to heal trauma, and the power of community to heal us all.
Other must reads: Crenshaw, Wishtree, A Long Walk to Water
Lois Lowry’s stunning story about real-life Danish Freedom fighters is told from the point of view of 10-year-old Anne Marie, and its links to real-life events will help shape the world view of young readers. Honest and unforgettable, Lowry’s award-winning little book is historical fiction at its best, and is a potent reminder that incredible things happen when small groups of thoughtful people take on unimaginable evil.
In this vein: Refugee, Counting by Sevens, Chains