We wish we lived in a world where war wasn’t a thing. But with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the situation in that country continuing to escalate, it’s difficult to keep the news of war away from children when it’s everywhere. Here are some excellent books on war that might help parents and teachers talk to children about it in a way that might help children comprehend what is going on today.

War by Jose Jorge Letria, illustrated by André Letria

War can be brutal, swift, and all-encompassing. In his book, Jose Jorge Letria knows that sometimes, there is no way to sugarcoat the ugliness of war and hence this book offers a sobering depiction of what happens when people get affected by it. Letria lets illustrator André Letria’s stunning, monochromatic pictures convey a thousand words as the prose in this book is sparse, but the message about the aftermath of war still gets through to readers. A recipient of the prestigious Nami Concours prize, War is an evocative and bold interpretation on the subject that may serve as a vehicle for difficult yet necessary discussions among readers of all ages. Grades 4-7

Stormy Seas by Mary Beth Leatherdale, illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare

An immediate and harrowing effect of war is homelessness. As the people of Ukraine have been forced to flee into neighbouring Eastern European nations, so have millions of people in the past due to the wars that have raged over the centuries. This book focuses on refugees who have had to leave their counties by boat to seek shelter in far-off lands. Through five stories, from 1939 to today, the book introduces us to Ruth and her family as they board the St. Louis to escape Nazism; we meet Phu who sets out alone from war-torn Vietnam; José tries to reach the United States from Cuba; Najeeba flees Afghanistan and the Taliban; and after losing his family, Mohamed abandons his village on the Ivory Coast in search of a new life. These are moving, deeply personal, and dramatic stories accompanied by a creative, vivid, and contemporary collage-based design. Grades 5-9

What the Kite Saw by Anne Laurel Carter Illustrated by Akin Duzakin

This book explores the consequences of war on the most defenceless of victims: small children. The book tells the story of a young boy whose father and brother have been taken away by soldiers. The boy now lives in a constant state of fear with his mother and sister. At suppertime, he can’t stop looking at the two empty places at the table and his sister can’t stop crying. The boy looks out the window and is chilled to see a tank’s spotlight searching the park where he plays with his friends. He hears shouts and gunshots and catches sight of someone running in the street — if only they could fly away, he thinks. One day when the curfew is lifted and the boy is playing in the park, he has an idea. He comes back home and makes a kite and flies it from the rooftop at night, imagining everything that the kite is able to see. What the Kite Saw is a moving story about a young boy finding strength through his creativity and imagination and is accompanied by haunting illustrations. Grades K-3