Deployment can be so hard, especially on our kids. Often they don’t know exactly what they are feeling or how to express those feelings productively. We’ve found that reading books about deployment helps our kids understand their feelings of missing dad or mom a bit better. We hope this list will be helpful to you, and we’d love to hear what books you and your kiddos love to read.
Hero Dad is written from the perspective of a proud little boy, sharing how his dad compares to a superhero. The illustrations in the book will be familiar to any child who has been around the military: uniforms, boots, and tanks. The final page is the boy welcoming his dad home. This is a great, simple read for younger kids — perfect for ages 2 through 5.
If mom wears the uniform in your family, there is also a Hero Mom version available from the same author.
A Paper Hug is written from the perspective of a little boy. This book does open up with the line “Daddy’s gone to war,” so if the word “war” is something you haven’t used around your kiddos, you may want to skip this. He also talks about how his mother cried, so again, if you have smaller kids and are trying to keep things light, that’s something to consider.
One thing we took away from this book the first time we read it, was the idea of giving daddy a special package at the airport before he leaves and how the little boy helped get his dad’s favorite items together for the package. The little boy has the idea to create a paper hug to put in his dad’s package. This is a really easy craft you can do with kids of any age, and there’s a sweet little poem to go with the hug. This is a very sweet book and does address the emotions and realities of deployment a bit more. The project is great for all kids, but the book itself is great for 5-7-year-olds.
Over There is a very basic book for young children (3 and under) talking about the activities we do every day at home, and how the deployed parent is engaging in these same activities where they are, such as eating meals, brushing teeth, and going to bed. It’s from the perspective of a small child and it reinforces that even while dad’s away, he’s still thinking of him and loves him. There is a pocket at the end of the book for a photo of your service member. Your base Morale, Welfare, and Recreation may provide these books along with daddy dolls!
Night Catch is about a little boy and his dad coming up with a fun game to play while dad is deployed. This book rhymes which makes it a fun read with littles. The dad and the boy send a star back and forth to one another each night — as the boy sends his star to his dad, his dad is waking up and catching it. The illustrations are beautiful and perfectly capture deployment in a non-scary way. This is an instant favorite — great for ages 2 through 8.
5. Danny Dogtags: Dealing with Deployment by Lindsey and Vincent Jackson
This is a picture book, but it’s geared toward older children, ages 8 through 12. It focuses on gearing up for deployment and the feelings a child may experience before the parent leaves. The book also discusses the fact that many kids go through deployments, so even when it feels lonely, you’re never alone and others understand what you are going through. There are some helpful hints at the end of the book for ways to deal with deployments.
This is a favorite because of the fun illustrations and all the focus on dad being a hero and making us proud! It discusses all branches of the military and different jobs dad may have (air traffic controller, pilot, mechanic, sailor, etc.) We love that it rhymes, and the book features a diverse blend of military families. This is a great book for toddlers through school-age kids; there’s no mention of anything that could be scary, and it focuses on dad being a helper.
What are your go-to deployment books for kids? Do you have suggestions for older kids? We’d love to hear about your family’s favorite books!
Setting some realistic expectations for that much-anticipated homecoming? Read up on Adjusting Parenting Styles after Your Spouse Comes Home.
Photo Credits: Kristen Moracco