#30BooksforPeace - The Complete List

The other day, my seven-year-old daughter informed me that murder was bad. Perplexed by her strange remark that seemed to have come from nowhere, I questioned her until I learned that she had caught far too much of the news. The globe is flush with conflict, famine, war, and disease. I personally have a hard time watching the news without being left with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. The unrest and anger across the globe and here in the US is palpable, leaving a sadness in my heart.

However, today, while up in my oldest daughter's room, I found this note she had written, unprompted, and it sparked a hope for peace inside that I hadn't felt for a long time.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to consciously choose the best books to share with my daughters in the hopes of making them better people, kinder people, empathic people. I want to look back at the time we have spent reading together and know that it fostered meaningful discussions about life that I may never have broached had we not read a certain book. For this reason, given all that is in the news, I decided to read 30 books that in some way promote peace. This challenge was shared as a weekly post, providing the books about peace we read that week. In the end, I think that this has been an inspiring and profound exercise looking into all the aspects and meanings of the word "PEACE" with their children.

So, without further ado, here are our #30booksforpeace:

1. Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy with paintings by Jon J. Muth.

This may seem like an unconventional first choice for books about peace- it is just a collection of poems. However, I have found that it is easiest to broach the most complex subjects with poetry This collection of poems, compiled by Caroline Kennedy, covers a broad selection of subjects, allowing the reader to select the perfect poem for each moment in life. The illustrations are breathtaking and unobtrusive, allowing the poems to shine on the page. For this moment in time, I choose a very simple but masterful poem by Janet S. Wong. In her poem Liberty, we are challenge to take that first step towards peace: acceptance of different views.

2. We March by Shane W. Evans. We just borrowed this book from the library on our last trip, and I am so thankful that we did. The beauty of this book is the sparse use of words that keeps my rambunctious two-year-old listening. The book describes one child's journey to participate in the March on Washington for jobs and freedom that took place on August 28, 1963 at the nation's capitol. More than 250,000 people participated in this peaceful march, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. The illustrations are striking and the words perfectly convey a concise message of justice, freedom, and hope.

3. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This is the second time I have blogged about this book. I purchased this book while visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. Unlike many autobiographical books that are only read once, this book calls you to read it again and again. Bryan Collier does a masterful job creating pictures that pull you into the moment, while Doreen Rappaport carefully framed a story of Dr. King's life around his amazing words. My oldest daughter loves the honesty and bluntness with which the author uses Dr. King's words to address issues of race.

4. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I choose this book as the fourth book to read for this series because it displays another perspective of peaceful protests from an event that most individuals know little to nothing about. I think it is important that my daughters grow up learning about all types of injustice and action towards peace and a better world. This book tells the story of Clara, a young immigrant, who dreams  of a better life in New York, only to find herself locked inside a factory working in horrendous conditions. She organizes and unites with her fellow workers to stand up for their right to fair wages and humane working conditions. I also wrote about this book in one of my first posts on this blog. The story and illustrations in this book are breathtaking. Did you know that 146 women lost their lives in a fire at one of these shirtwaist factories (The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory) spurring the creation of fire safety codes? Can you imagine the grit it took to peacefully strike as a young immigrant woman, standing up to an entire industry? But, what I think is so amazing, is watching my daughter make the connection that Dr. King was killed participating in a strike with garbage collectors, who were demanding better working conditions, and Clara was jailed 17 times and had six ribs broken while peacefully protesting.

5. One by Kathryn Otoshi. A beautiful tale of the quiet color blue getting bullied by the hot headed color red until "one" stands up and says no to the bullying. The message is clear, though the images are just colored dots, that it only takes one person to stand up for someone else and be counted. The attraction of the book is that it doesn't directly confront any specific instances of injustice, which the other books do contain sensitive subject material. Because of this ambiguity, it allows the book to be applied to almost any situation where someone is being bullied, while at the same time giving younger readers the opportunity to listen without potentially being exposed to sensitive material.

6. The Kites are Flying by Micheal Morpurgo. (This book I ended up not reading to either girls yet because it is really meant for an older audience. I choose to include it in on my list because it exemplifies the desire for peace and will be shared with my girls as soon as they are ready.)

During a trip over to the Book Worm Used Bookstore in Powder Springs, GA, I scanned the shelves for books to read to them about peace. I happened upon this beautiful, unassuming book titled The Kites are Flying by Micheael Morpurgo. Its subtitle was Friendship Knows No Barriers, so I decided to pick it up. (The story, published in the UK, is not readily available in the US.) The author beautifully weaves the tale of a reporter's journey to the West Bank where he meets Said, a young Palestinian boy who spends his days tending to his sheep on a hill while making kites. Said is full of life and hope even thought he no longer speaks after witnessing the tragic killing of his brother by soldiers. When the wind is just right, he releases the kites he makes over the wall with a message of peace written on each kite, sending out seeds of friendship. This story, written following the conflict in 2008, seemed very timely to stumble upon. I will be perfectly honest that the fighting in the Gaza strip seems daunting and unrelenting to me. Here, in the US, there is much talk about the the fighting and who is deemed right or wrong, but there is little talk about the unfortunate victims of the wars- the children. This book brought me to tears with the way the human impact of war is conveyed.

In one part of the book, the reporter is describing how he is there to film life on both sides of the wall, and he details how certain events frame a person's context for peace and war for the rest of their lives:
"It all depends on how old you are. For some people it is the television footage of the assassination of President Kennedy, or the pictures of Neil Armstrong stepping down onto the surface of the moon. For others it might be Nelson Mandela walking out of prison in South Africa, or it might be those planes slamming into the Twin Towers of Manhattan. For most of us there is a happening we have witnessed at an impressionable time of our lives that we shall never forget."
For me, my moment in time was indeed the moment the planes slammed into the Twin Towers. I was in college. The early morning class I was in was interrupted by a student urgently letting us know that a plane had hit the towers. Our professor, a Holocaust survivor, strikingly said, "That is impossible. Nothing that evil could happen here." She was wrong. A woman who had thought the worst of her suffering was years in her past was wrong. For this and so many other reasons, when I stumbled upon September Roses at the library, I knew I had to include it in my list.

7. September Roses by Jeanette Winter. For such a tiny book, this retelling of a true act of kindness and heroism following 9/11 leaves a profound impact on the reader. When two women visiting the US for a flower show find themselves stranded after 9/11, a kind gentleman offers his home and a bed for them to sleep in. When they ask how to repay his kindness, he suggests they bring the flowers they brought for the now cancelled convention to Union Square as an offering a peace and condolences.

When my oldest read this book, she came running over to me completely flabbergasted that book had an image of a plane flying into a building. She was shocked and dismayed when I confirmed that it was true. And for her,  hearing me tell her about where I was when this tragedy unfolded was like when my mom told me where she was when Kennedy was shot- a history lesson.

8. Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Last week, I picked up five books I had reserved from the library specifically for this series of posts. Of those five books, this was by far the favorite for both Miss M and myself. I fell in love with book from the moment I read the authors thoughtful dedication- to the senses and how you can foster peace by using all five senses. The book ponders the question: How can there be peace in the world? And to answer this question, carefully woven into the illustrations are endless magnificent quotes about peace. The entire book is built around the poem written by Lao-Tzu, over 2,500 ago, showing the reader that if there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart. The illustrations in this book are intricate, offering hours of perusal, finding something new with every read. If there is one book that I plan on purchasing, it will be this one.

9.  What Does Peace Feel Like? by V. Radunsky and children just like you from around the world. I love that a percentage of the net proceeds from the purchase of this book will be donated to CARE, a humanitarian organization that is based out of our city of Atlanta. In this book, the meaning of peace is described through the eyes and imaginations of children. It is delightful to read children describe peace looking like a mother kissing and hugging a child or smelling "like the wind when it comes to your nose when you are sleeping." My favorite page is when the children asked what peace tasted like. Apparently, the vast majority of children said that peace tastes like ice cream. I would have to agree. This book is definitely appropriate for a younger audience, and children will love hearing something explained in their own words.

10. Can You Say Peace? by Karen Katz brings a multicultural perspective to the selection of peace books by having children from countries around the world say "peace" in their native language. This book has bright illustrations and sparse text, making it a perfect read aloud for a toddler. My older daughter loved the challenge of memorizing the various ways to say peace, and my youngest enjoyed the pictures. We borrowed this one from the library. I think it would be great to have in a classroom.

11.  The Big Book for Peace Edited by Ann Durell and Marilyn Sachs and designed by Jane Byers Bierhorst. I will be perfectly honest that this book was not my favorite, by a long shot. The story behind this collection of stories is almost more compelling than the collection. It was inspired by discussions at a conference where I librarian expressed a need for books about peace. I think the main problem is the age old cliche of judging a book by its cover. I expected, when I borrowed this from the library, to have a volume completely filled will colorful illustrations, like the cover by Maurice Sendak. It is actually a collection of short stories, poems, letters, and illustrations from various authors and illustrators meant to focus on themes of peace. We read several of short stories, but the honestly did not keep my oldest daughter's attention. It may be that this book is better suited for an older audience. I would recommend picking this one up from the library before making the purchase.

12. War and Peace by Child's Play and illustrated by Toni Goffe. No, this is not the classic by Tolstoy. It is instead a very basic description of how disagreements can occur between siblings, families, communities, or countries. I picked this book up from the Book Worm Bookstore. It is simple, easy for a child to understand, and really drives the point home that war can be futile. At first glance, I really liked this book; however there are parts of this book that I felt came off as judgmental and propaganda when I read the book aloud to my kids. It left me feeling a little angst instead of warm and hopeful, like I did when finishing many of the other books. It is overall a good book, I just wish I could go back and edit a few of the word choices made throughout the text.

13. Let There Be Peace: Prayers from Around the World by Jeremy Brooks and Jude Daly.  This collection of prayers for peace from all around the world reminds the reader that no matter where you are from, what God you believe in, or what your religious beliefs may be, we all share the common desire for peace. Since so many wars are sparked by differences with religion, I love how this book shows how similar the prayers of different religions can be. I am adding this one to our to-buy list because it contains so many great poems and prayers and the illustrations are sublime.

The idea of peace in the world may seems overwhelming, but if we break it down to the smaller parts, then we can begin to once again envision peace.

14. Children's World Atlas  by DK Publishing- We started by purchasing from Little Shop of Stories a Children's World Atlas. They were lovely enough to order several for me to choose from, which was so helpful compared to shopping online. I choose this atlas because it also includes an updated compact disc that has digital maps and statistics about the countries around the world. I had been meaning to get an atlas for a while because every time my oldest asks where a country is located she only ends up confused by my explanation of  the country's location. This makes any news discussion at dinner very cumbersome. Therefore, we have kept this book on the coffee table. Why include this book in a series about peace?  

If there is to be peace in the world, we need to have a better understanding about our fellow Earthly inhabitants. I am always amazed how clueless adults can be in relation to geography. My hope is that this book lets her see how we share this world with a whole lot of other individuals. It's a great big Earth, and we are only a small part of it.

I have two gripes about this atlas now that we have been using it for a couple of days. The first is that with the way the maps are printed and the binding, some major cities get lost, in particular Atlanta. The second gripe is that they never have a map of the whole United States of America, instead they show in a series of maps by region. This feels disjointed when you are trying to show your child how far she lives from her cousins. Aside from those two items, the book is beautiful and provides lots of helpful information for children interested in geography.

15. Black Fella White Fella by Neil Murray and illustrated by students from schools around Australia. My dear friend gave this book to me as a gift several years ago. This book brings our stories about peace all the way to Australia. This story is built from the lyrics of a song, an anthem performed by the Warumpi Band. It is profound, beautiful, and amazingly poignant at this moment in time. "Are you the one that is going to stand up and be counted?" the lyrics ask.

 If there is to peace in the world, we must stand up and be counted. The message screams out for us to see each other as family and treat each other with respect. Take a moment, you won't regret it, to watch the video from the book launch for this children's book.

This is my favorite illustration in the book. The text on this page reads, "It doesn't matter which religion/ It's all the same when the ship is sinking." Isn't that the truth?

16. Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter. Imagine leaving to attend college only to come home to discover your once lush homeland has become a barren wasteland. For Wangari, this was the reality she discovered when she returned to her Kenyan home. She was determined to undo the damage that deforestation had caused, and she began planting one tree at a time.  

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace for our Earth. Her determination worked. Women joined with her, and together they stood up and were counted. This army of women planted millions of trees. Wangari's Green Belt Movement earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. This book beautifully tells this story, showing how one person truly can make a difference. I will be sad to return this book to the library.

There is also the book Seeds of Change about Wangari. Check out this review from Seeds of Change. The book looks enchanting

17. Peaceful Protest: The Life of Nelson Mandela by Yona Seldis McDonough and illustrated by Malcah Seldis. I purchased this book from The Book Worm in Powder Springs. It is an autobiography of Nelson Mandela that is technically geared towards 6-10 years old children. I think it would be better suited for an older reader because of the length of the text and the descriptions of his life events. I've done some research and think that I will try to reserve Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson, which looks like it might be better suited for the ages of my daughters. Regardless of the book we read, I firmly believe that any discussion about peace must include dialogue about Nelson Mandela's magnificent life.

If there is to be peace in the world, we must learn to find forgiveness. Nelson Mandela's ability to forgive his advisories and work with them to achieve peace continues to be inspiring.

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.” ― Nelson Mandela

18.  Waiting for the Owl's Call (Tales of the World) by Gloria Whelan. This is a haunting story told from the first person perspective of eight-year-old Zulviya, who must work long hours next to her sister and mother weaving rugs by hand. Despite her inability to go to school or play as a child should, she weaves dreams in her mind to pass the time. Imagining this young girl, almost the same age as my oldest, in Afghanistan being forced to hard labor was humbling. The beautiful prose told the story of child labor in a way that was both powerful and and something a child could relate to.

If there is to be peace in the world, we first must begin with the children. 

19.  Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat? by Nancy Patz. This book is so simple in concept, focusing on imagining who the woman was that wore a hat seen on display at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. The author ponders if she took cream in her coffee, what she was like, who were her children, and so many other characteristics that make the idea of this far off person someone not to different from yourself. The illustrations are subtle and matte tones, and their subdued nature invites you in to ponder who the woman was without being loud or forceful. This book is important for a discussion of peace because we must be able to relate to those that are in pain and suffering. Mother Teresa once said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." I believe this to be true. If there is to be peace in the world, we must believe that we belong to each other. 

Seeing yourself in the shoes of another woman, wearing something simple like a hat, makes what happened during the holocaust less of a history lesson and more of a human tragedy. The beauty of this picture book is that the superficial nature of the text allows a broad range of readers to pull from it what they are developmentally ready to understand.

20.  The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. This classic book brings our journey and discussion of books about peace to the neighborhood. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors.

 For Wanda Petronski, she does not find peace in her neighborhood as the other girls tease and taunt her for her plain dress. This Polish girl in a Connecticut school experiences teasing, bullying and the timeless desire to just want to below. The book won a Newbery Honor in 1945, but still remains relevant today. It was the perfect book to read to a daughter seeking to find peace on the playground.

21.  Jubilee!: One Man's Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Matt Tavares. Published in 2014, this is one of the newest books about peace we have read. I had never heard of this tremendous event that occurred following the civil war to celebrate the peace in our country prior to reading this book. What an amazing story of one man's journey to celebrate the beauty of peace! I cannot express how much I enjoyed this non-fiction selection. We borrowed it from the library, but I will add it to our to-buy list. You will cheer this unsung hero of our early American history after reading about Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore's amazing life.
If there is to be peace in the world, we must share the music within our hearts. 

 22. Is Nothing Something?: Kids' Questions and Zen Answers About Life, Death, Family, Friendship, and Everything in Between by Thich Nhat Hanh.  This book is a collection of some of life's toughest questions that a child may pose with answers penned by Thich Nhat Hanh. While the book was written by a Buddist, the book feels more like a guide how to find peace in your heart than a religious text. I reviewed the book back in April, and since purchasing it, it has maintained a spot in our regular reads pile. For the purpose of finding inner peace, I especially love this quote from the book, which summarizing the conclusion we have come to from reading these #30BooksforPeace:
"I used to try to create peace, but I was not successful. Then, one day I realized that breathing in and breathing out mindfully could help bring peace to my body and mind. That was the day I truly started practicing peace."
 23. The Story of Ferdinandby Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. I was reminded of this great book by Books Mama's post in August about the book. What an amazing story about nonviolence! Bulls are supposed to fight, but Ferdinand would rather sit peacefully and observe the beauty in the world that surrounds him. His mother is not afraid to let her son be different from the other bulls, giving him the freedom to be true to himself. Even when thrown into the ring for a bull fight, he choose to admire the beauty instead of fighting. An amazing analogy for mindfulness and peace.
24. A Good Day Board Book by Kevin Henkes. Some days may seem like bad days, but bad days can turn into good days. In this sparsely worded book, colorful illustrations with contrasting colors capture even the youngest of readers attention. The message of this book is simple- there are good days and bad days, but we need to find the joy in both the good and bad to find peace.

25. The Twelve Gifts of Birth by Charlene Costanzo. I am borrowing this beauty of a book from a dear friend of mine. This beautiful book shares twelve gifts that one mother told her children they were born with and how they can use these gifts to make the world a better place. This book would make a wonderful baby shower gift for any expecting mother. I love these simple "gifts" and the message that you can make change for the better.

26.Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing. My daughter borrowed this book from the library because they read it at her school and it makes her feel better about herself. Want to teach your children to be bucket fillers? Bucket fillers are those that go around adding to other people's buckets of happiness by spreading joy and love. Did you fill a bucket today? Finding inner peace requires you to be a bucket filler.

27. Woolburby Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Lee Harper. If there is to be peace in the heart, you have to be true to yourself. Woolbur is the perfect book to teach kids how to march to the beat of their own drum, even if that means being completely different from everyone else. My favorite character in this book is the yogi Grandpaa goat that is constantly telling the concerned parents of Woolbur to not worry. Go forth young little Woolbur- do something that is completely unheard of!

28. You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo and book
29. Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Bedtime Story by Giselle Shardlow and illustrated by Emily Gedzyk. 

Helping my kids quiet their minds has always been a struggle of mine because I have trouble quieting my own mind at night. We were lucky enough to have been asked to review Good Night, Animal World  back in March. It has been a blessing to find this book and to discover other children's books that share fun yoga poses. Both of these books share calming poses inspired by animals. I love yoga poses inspired by animals because young children love pretending to be animals. These books have become a staple to our bedtime routines, encouraging us to calm down both our bodies and minds, making them ready for bed.

30. Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. The final book that made our list for #30booksforpeace is this amazing book by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. At first, Jonathan James listens to his inner Whatif Monster-  imaging all the horrible, no-good things that could go wrong when you try something new. However, Jonathan James realizes that maybe, just maybe things could go amazingly right if he tries something new and his Whatif Monster becomes a confidant to share his dreams and fears with.

We purchased this book about a year ago and has been a huge blessing to my oldest, who tends to worry endlessly about things. And we are not the only people that find this book completely comforting. When I read about the Whatif Military Challenge, I knew I had add this book to our list. This book changed the lives of one military family after the mom saw how much it helped her child cope with the stresses surrounding military deployment and having a father suffering from PTSD. Her mission is to share this book with every family that has disabled vet, in the hopes that it may help other families. Check out the website and see how you can help her accomplish this amazing dream to bring peace to military families around the country.

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