Children’s books can support young children during deployment

Children’s books are a great way to help young children understand deployment.

Children's books can be used to support young children before, during and after their service member's deployment.
Children's books can be used to support young children before, during and after their service member's deployment.

Deployment can be a stressful time for families, especially young children. During deployment many changes are taking place within the family. Young children may not be able to fully understand these changes. Many times young children are unable to fully process what a deployment means and why their service member is gone. Michigan State University Extension says that a great way to help explain deployment and give young children an idea of what to expect can be to use children’s books.

Children’s books provide a way for parents, caregivers and young children to learn about deployment and the many changes that happen during a deployment. By reading about other military families, children and situations, they will be able to recognize that they are not alone and that other families are having experiences and feelings that are similar to their own. Books also offer an opportunity for parents and caregivers to connect with their young child one-on-one and provide a special time to talk about how the family will adjust to the upcoming changes.

Reading books is a great time to connect with your young child and find out how they are feeling, what they are thinking about and give them special opportunities to feel close to you. There are many books about deployment and military life to help parents and caregivers of young children. These books include military specific topics such as deployment and relocating or there are also books that deal with general emotions that go along with military life. A great list of books is available through the eXtension Military Families Learning Network. This list of books includes topics such as preparing and adapting to relocating, military life, injury of a parent, strong emotions, deployment or separation, homecoming and the death of a parent. The list includes the book title, author, and appropriate age group and if the book has military specific topics or characters. This is a great place to start if you are looking for children’s books to help support your young military child.

Over a series of articles, we will be exploring different children’s books and how they can be used to support young children during deployment before, during and after their service member returns. These articles will give parents and caregivers ideas of activities they can use to help extend support beyond just reading the books. If you are looking for more articles about deployment support, check out Finding Support for Children and Youth with Deployed Family Members for a helpful checklist on who might support your child or youth during your service member’s deployment and the Emotional Cycle of Deployment that explains each stage of the deployment cycle and gives helpful things you can do to keep your family connected. You can also find additional deployment support information on the Military OneSource website, the Operation: Military Kids website and the 4-H Military Partnerships website.

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