Military Family

Family Life in the Military: Children’s Books to Help Kids Navigate Deployment

Family Life in the Military: Children’s Books to Help Kids Navigate Deployment

contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer

The life of a military child is unique and comes with its own set of perks and challenges. PCS moves and deployments are probably the most overwhelming changes encountered by military families. Youngsters, especially those who are experiencing these changes for the first time, can feel confused and lonely as they navigate life in the military. Children’s books provide a great opportunity for these kids to engage in honest discussions, share feelings, and see that they are not alone. 

Here are 10 deployment books for kids to read before and while parents are away.

Military Books for Kids of Deployed Parents

The following military children’s books were written specifically for military kids and cover a wide array of topics to help them cope with deployment

Brave Like Me

This photo book speaks to children who’s loved one is serving overseas by telling the story of a brother and sister with deployed parents. Brave Like Me speaks to a universal tale and depicts the fears and triumphs children face while waiting for their parents to return from overseas.


A Paper Hug

When a reserve soldier is activated, his son struggles with sadness as the family prepares for deployment. The son decides to create a life-size paper cutout of his arms for his dad to use as A Paper Hug anytime he’s feeling down, and it’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. Break out the tissues. You’ll need them more when reading this book than perhaps any other army book for kids!


When You Are Away

Of course, deployment comes with major changes for all involved, even before mom or dad ships out. When You Are Away is one of the best military books to read before deployment. It will help start the conversation about what kids can expect during the time that their parent is away.


I Miss You: A Military Kid’s Book About Deployment

This book was written by a social worker who has assisted military families for years and found that many of the children’s books about army and military parents lacked contextual support for adults. I Miss You is part coloring book which explains what deployment will mean to a child. It’s also part parent guide, geared not just towards helping parents help their children, but validating their own feelings, as well. 


Momma’s Boots

There are so many “my daddy is deployed” books but finding military mom books, especially deployment books can be tough. Momma’s Boots is one of the best soldier books for preschoolers and school aged children, alike. This beautiful story describes what mom does when she puts on her boots and heads to work, often for long periods of time.


Non-Military Books for Kids of Deployed Parents

There are plenty of children’s books about soldiers, veteran’s stories for kids, and books about deployed dads and moms. But there are many circumstances that aren’t related to military life which may require a parent to be away from his or her child. The following books speak to separation or general challenges of young life without being military or deployment specific.

The Magic Box: When Parents Can’t Be There to Tuck You In

A fantastic book for children facing parental separation of any kind, The Magic Box not only normalizes feelings of fear and sadness during separation, but it provides a great idea to help make the absences more bearable. Furthermore, the Notes to Parents section at the end of the book is quite helpful.


I Love You Near and Far

While the illustrations depict a military separation, I Love You Near and Far, describes how a child might feel when they are separated, by any distance, from anyone they love. This sweet rhyming story is effectively the love letter from a child to those who remain close at heart, if not in proximity. 


Brave Like Me: A Story About Finding Your Courage

Wyatt the Lion’s desire to be brave finds him battling his own fear and encourages children to dig deep inside themselves to do the same. Brave Like Me: A Story About Finding Your Courage is part of “The Books of Great Character” series, which is designed to help children build character via the use of social-emotional skills in their day-to-day lives.


The Invisible String

The Invisible String describes an invisible string made of love connecting families even when they can’t be together physically. This award-winning book provides a simple approach to overcoming the fear and loneliness of familial separation. Take it a step further by working through the Invisible String Workbook during deployment, as well.


Countdown ‘Til Daddy Comes Home

Countdown ‘Til Daddy Comes Home tells the story of a little boy as he counts down the days until his dad returns from a trip. Not only will the book provide comfort to the kiddos waiting for their own parent to return, but it’s full of creative countdown ideas and excellent discussion questions. Often, military kids can say their daddy is in the army and is deployed. But more and more, mommies are deploying, too. Countdown ‘Til Mommy Comes Home is perfect for kids who are navigating life without mom, for a time. 



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