Best Kids Books About War

12 Kids Books About War

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
The Wall book
#1
The Wall
Written by Eve Bunting
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A boy and his father come from far away to visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington and find the name of the boy's grandfather, who was killed in the conflict.

The Circus Comes to the Village book
#2
The Circus Comes to the Village
Written and illustrated by Yutaka Kobayashi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

When fall arrives, the circus comes to Paghman village, one of the few pleasures for the villagers. Yamo and his friend Mirado are very excited. Yamo misses his brother, who has gone off to war. Mirado's father is also away at war. At the circus, the boys browse the vendors, ride the swings and enjoy the shows. Mirado plays his father's flute with the circus band and his music moves the people's hearts. When the circus moves on the next day, Mirado leaves with it. As the villagers prepare for the severe winter ahead, Yamo thinks about his friend Mirado and wonders how he is doing. Finally, snow falls. The villagers are happy, since the snow leads to the next year's harvest. Kobayashi's illustrations portray the beautiful village life that fall. Then, on the final page we are stunned to learn: "This winter, my village was destroyed by the war, and people escaped to other villages." But the reader is ultimately left with hope, as the springtime announces the villagers' return.

Nurse, Soldier, Spy book
#3
Nurse, Soldier, Spy
Written by Marissa Moss and illustrated by John Hendrix
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

This is the incredible true story of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who dressed as a man and fought in the Civil War. When she was 19, Sarah cut her hair, donned her brother's clothes, and fled from Canada, where her father wanted her to marry an elderly gentleman. In the U.S., she went by the name Frank Thompson and joined the Army to fight the Confederates. She was a nurse working on the battlefield when, because of her heroism, she was asked to serve as a spy. At her death, Edmonds was buried in a military cemetery, in a plot reserved for Civil War veterans--the only woman to have this honor.

Renato and the Lion book
#4
Renato and the Lion
Written and illustrated by Barbara Dilorenzo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The touching, magical story of a boy in a war-torn country and the stone lion that rescues him. Renato loves his home in Florence, Italy. He loves playing with his friends in the Piazza della Signoria. He loves walking home by the beautiful buildings and fountains with his father in the evenings. And he especially loves the stone lion who seems to smile at him from a pedestal in the piazza. The lion makes him feel safe. But one day his father tells him that their family must leave. Their country is at war, and they will be safer in America. Renato can only think of his lion. Who will keep him safe? With luminous watercolor paintings, Barbara DiLorenzo captures the beauty of Florence in this heartwarming and ultimately magical picture book.

Ben's Revolution book
#5
Ben's Revolution
Written by Nathaniel Philbrick and illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

History comes alive in this gripping account of a young boy caught up in the start of the Revolutionary War. Based on an episode in National Book Award–winning author Nathaniel Philbrick’s New York Times bestseller Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, this engrossing story allows readers to experience history from a child’s perspective, and Wendell Minor’s stunning paintings will transport readers back to the early days of the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Russell is in school on the morning of April 19th, 1775, when his teacher announces, “The war’s begun, and you may run!” Ben knew this day was coming; after all, tensions had been mounting between the colonists and the British troops ever since the Boston Tea Party. And now they have finally reached the breaking point. Ben and his friends excitedly rush out of their classroom to bear witness, and follow the throngs of redcoats marching out of Boston toward Concord. Much to Ben’s surprise, Boston is sealed off later that day—leaving the boys stuck outside the city, in the middle of a war, with no way to reach their families. But Ben isn’t worried—he’s eager to help the Patriots! He soon becomes a clerk to the jovial Israel Putnam, a general in the provincial army. For months he watches the militia grow into an organized army, and when the Battle of Bunker Hill erupts, Ben is awed by the bravery of the Patriots, although saddened by the toll war takes. He later goes on to become an apprentice at a Revolutionary newspaper, and it’s a happy day when they get to report on the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The Day War Came book
#6
The Day War Came
Written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came to your town and turned it to rubble. Imagine if you lost everything and everyone, and you had to make a dangerous journey all alone. Imagine that there was no welcome at the end, and no room for you to even take a seat at school. And then a child, just like you, gave you something ordinary but so very, very precious. In lyrical, deeply affecting language, Nicola Davies’s text combines with Rebecca Cobb’s expressive illustrations to evoke the experience of a child who sees war take away all that she knows.

The Most Beautiful Village in the World book
#7
The Most Beautiful Village in the World
Written and illustrated by Yutaka Kobayashi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

A young boy, Yamo, lives in the Afghan village of Paghman. The peaceful village is surrounded by the bounty of nature. Fruit trees burst into bloom in the spring, and in the summer, Yamo's whole family joins in harvesting apricots, plums, and cherries--breaking into song as they pick. This year, for the first time, Yamo goes to the market in town to sell their harvest with his father. He is filling in for his older brother, who is off fighting in the war. After they have sold their fruit, his father uses the income to buy a white baby lamb. Readers will feel experience the deep love of the family, enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the landscape, and vivid activities at the town market. Then on the final page, readers will be stunned to learn: "This winter, my village was destroyed by the war, and now it's all gone." This book, the first of three in the Yamo's Village series, leads the young reader to think in real terms about the meaning of war and its impact. And they understand that there used to be many beautiful villages in Afghanistan.

The Sinking of the Vasa book
#8
The Sinking of the Vasa
Written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by William Low
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Newbery Medalist Freedman explores the mystery of the sinking of the great Swedish warship, the "Vasa, " on her maiden voyage in 1628, and her resurrection from the seas centuries later. Full color.

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code book
#9
Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code
Written by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

As a young Navajo boy, Chester Nez had to leave the reservation and attend boarding school, where he was taught that his native language and culture were useless. But Chester refused to give up his heritage. Years later, during World War II, Chester—and other Navajo men like him—was recruited by the US Marines to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code. Suddenly the language he had been told to forget was needed to fight a war. This powerful picture book biography contains backmatter including a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.

Captain Rosalie book
#10
Captain Rosalie
Written by Timothée de Fombelle and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Timothée de Fombelle and Isabelle Arsenault capture the heart-wrenching cost of war for one small girl in a delicately drawn, expertly told tale. While her father is at war, five-year-old Rosalie is a captain on her own secret mission. She wears the disguise of a little girl and tracks her progress in a secret notebook. Some evenings, Rosalie's mother reads aloud Father's letters from the front lines, so that Rosalie knows he is thinking of her and looking forward to the end of the war and to finally coming home. But one day a letter comes that her mother doesn't read to her, and Rosalie knows her mission must soon come to an end. Author Timothée de Fombelle reveals the true consequence of war through the experiences of small, determined Rosalie, while acclaimed artist Isabelle Arsenault illustrates Rosalie's story in muted grays marked with soft spots of color -- the orange flame of Rosalie's hair, the pale pink of a scarf, the deep blue ink of her father's letters. All the more captivating for the simplicity with which it is drawn and told, this quiet tale will stay with the reader long after its last page is turned.

Ali's Story book
#11
Ali's Story
Written and illustrated by Andy Glynne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

This is the real-life story of 10-year-old refugee Ali, who is forced to flee his home country of Afganistan with his grandmother. Told in Ali's words, this story documents the feelings of alienation, separation, and suffering war can place on immigrant children and their families. This story also shares the hope Ali and his family has to overcome their ordeals.

Ruby in the Ruins book
#12
Ruby in the Ruins
Written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

From beloved British storyteller Shirley Hughes comes a touching tale of unconditional love as a family puts itself back together in postwar London. Ruby and Mum cling to each other while they live through the terrifying London Blitz, waiting for Dad to come home from the war. Day after day they hope for his return -- but when the moment to meet him at the station finally comes, Ruby hardly recognizes the tall man who steps off the train. He's big and sunburned, and he doesn't seem to be as engaged as he once was. It's easier to play outside in the wreckage of the bombings than to stay at home with a dad she doesn't know anymore. But when Ruby hurts her knee in the ruins, there's only one person who can rescue her and make her feel all right.

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