Books for Military Children Who Deal with Deployment

It is a heartbreaking time for children to brave a hug and plant a kiss on their mommy, daddy, brother or sister, as they head for deployment overseas. Sometimes they know the routine, because their goodbyes are for second and third times. The children have a tendency to grow up quickly.  There are extra chores and responsibilities.  They wait for e-mails, letters, and telephone calls.  But, it’s important  that their main job is to be a regular kid, go to school, and have fun.  There are a number of good books published for kids.  I hope the ones I’ve selected to review will become a welcomed resource to help children through the toughest times of deployment.

Night Catch, by Brenda Ehrmantraut is a timeless treasure that will help children cope with  separation and embrace the power of love that keeps them connected to loved ones.  It is written in lyrical rhyme, which works beautifully with the story and illustrations.  The illustrations by Vicki Wehrman are breathtaking and magical.  The book is for children 3 to 9 years of age.

When a military father is deployed, he creates a nighttime routine with his son to keep their hearts connected while they are so far apart.   The father recruits the help of the North Star to play a nightly game of catch with his son.  Every night before the son goes to bed, he closes his eyes, and visualizes the North Star, Polaris.  His Dad tells him to “Breathe in deep, then blow out hard to send that North Star sailing far….Then close your eyes and have sweet dreams of playing  catch amid moonbeams…The star will travel all the night while you are sleeping, tucked in tight.”   As the son sleeps, the father goes about his work and patiently waits for his day to end so that he can catch the North Star as he spots it in the night sky, and then send it back to his son.  When his tour of duty ends, he  blows a final puff of air, boards a plane and races that star home to his son.  A beautiful story written to remind us how we all are connected, and to be aware of these connections — even through a game.

A Paper Hug, written by Stephanie Skolmoski and colorfully illustrated by her daughter,  Anneliese Bennion, who have both lived through a family deployment.  It is a real keeper for military families, and for children  3 to 8 years of age.

The story  is about  the stressful times that are unique to military families.   It  follows a father who is notified about an upcoming deployment overseas.   What makes this book a tad bit different, is the author involves the child in every stage of preparation for the father’s deployment.  The great thing about this book, is that it emphasizes the importance of expressing  emotions — that it is okay to cry and be angry.  The mother and son search for special items to pack for Dad, so that he can remember them while he is gone.   The child comes up with a special gift for his dad — a paper hug.  There are instructions on how to make a paper hug, along with a poem that your child can include.   I applaud the author for such a creative  and special idea for families.   The message is empowering.

The Invisible  Strings,  is written by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Geoff Stevenson.  The book is for children 3 to 8 years of age, who have been separated from a parent because of a deployment, or have lost a parent or loved to death.

This book is among my favorites, because it delivers a heartwarming and compelling message to children that they are never separated from a loved one.  This is because  “people who love each other are always connected by invisible strings made of love.”  And these strings reach all over the world from heart to heart and remain forever.    I really appreciate the message in this book because it is more about love than separation.  It is also introduces a beautiful visualization technique for kids.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

10 thoughts on “Books for Military Children Who Deal with Deployment

  1. The military world is one I have had very little contact with, so I am growing in understanding through your posts.

    The Invisible Strings clearly has very universal appeal, and an image easily grasped by children.

    Night Catch is the book that most grabs my attention of the three. The front cover already captures some of the magic and I warm to the idea of something so eternal and timeless and permanant as the North Star being that which links father and son so far apart.

    Three lovely books, Pat.


    • I was so happy to find books written for children who have parents who are deployed. All three book are really applicable to any child that is separated from a parent for a long time due to work, illness etc. I so loved Night Catch as it reminded me of a game my daughter and I made up to help her deal with homesickness when she was a child going to camp during the summer. Am glad you enjoyed the book selection.


  2. What a very special post Pat. I love all three books, each with there own special message and so cleverly done. I love Night Catch for the power of connection….that is very special. Paper Hug is so clever and unique. The Invisable String …..another powerful message of connection…… very special. I think those two with the message of connection really touched me.
    Thankyou Pat.


    • Glad you enjoyed the books, Diane. I love those that have a spiritual message to that introduce children to the concept that we are all connected. Each book was lovely and real keepers. I shouldn’t have revealed the child’s gift — making a paper hug — but it was in the title. Loved the idea. Made me think of all of the things we sent to our grandson in Baghdad, and how we planned each box to make sure he received what he needed most. — however, much of it went to his buddies who never received packages from home. Got sidetracked. Deployment is hard on kids, and anything a child can do to feel a part of the deployment helps.


    • It’s tough. When a parent leaves, kids many times have behavioral problems and have problems with bedwetting. It really is hard. Thanks for your comment.


  3. As Joanna said, these posts have truly been eye-openers for me about what children who have a loved one in the military have to deal with. Your posts have both touched me and made me think — and have introduced me to some very interesting-sounding books!

    Thank you, Pat!


    • You made my day. Thank you! I spent many years working for the USAF, so I observed a lot first hand. And, had some very personal experiences, too. I was even surprised to find books written specifically for military children. I had fun doing this series over the past week because it meant so much to me.


  4. Hello Patricia,
    We came upon your blog and wanted to introduce ourselves. I did not see a way to send a personal message and don’t want to use your blog to do that. We would like to share our award winning books for Military children with you. I will leave it to you, if you want to contact us, we would love to talk with you. We can see your heart for Military children, and hope to get a chance to talk to you soon!
    With warm regards,
    Kathleen Edick and Paula Johnson


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