Inside: Learn some of the best books for military kids during deployment. Plus, 3 different ways to read to military kids to help them make sense of deployment. The Military Wife and Mom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which means if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I may make a small commission.
Half his life. Only half. That’s the amount of time my husband spent around our son by the time he reached age 4.
Military life is filled with all sorts of unique life challenges. A service member parent, who is frequently in and out of the home. Changing schools. New homes. And of course…saying goodbye to their childhood friends over and over again.
This is a challenging life for kids.
They didn’t ask for this. So it’s up to us to coach and guide them along through the roller coaster of military life as best as we possibly can. Thankfully, one totally awesome way to help kids make sense of something as huge as deployment is books.
19 Books for Military Kids During Deployment
The support for military kids continues to grow, as does the list of books written for military kids. There are many more books beyond this list, but these are by far my favorite books for military kids during deployment.
1. Sometimes We Were Brave
This book shows how Jerome adjusts to his mom, a Navy sailor, being away at sea. Jerome loves to bake cookies, read books, and take the family dog, Duffy, for walks when his mom is home.
When she goes off to sea, she tells Jerome to “Be brave.” Except, like many military kids, he doesn’t feel brave at all. This book helps kids understand different ways they can be brave in every day life at home. It’s also a Society of School Librarians International Honor Book.
2. I Love You Just the Same
This book isn’t specifically about military kids and deployment, but instead serves as a calming reminder of the constancy of parental love. Through the story of Little Bear and his mom, this book shares a powerful message of unconditional love put in a very child friendly way.
3. While You Are Away
There is some negative feedback on this book, and it’s all from non-military families. For military kids and parents, this is a great one to use during deployment. The emotions are deep and real for kids yearning for more understanding; thoughtful exploration of 3 different kids’ perspectives while mom or dad is deployed.
4. Pilot Mom
Saying goodbye to parents is a very trying time for kids. This explores the separation anxiety kids can experience before a parent deploys. I love offering my kids different perspectives on what saying goodbye looks like to different military families. This book brought up several purposeful discussions in our home, like what it would be like to say goodbye to mom instead of dad.
5. I Love My Dad
This book is soooo cute! Perfect for younger kids and there is an “I Love My Mom” version too. Throughout the book, Ollie gets to do different activities with his dad. It’s a lovely way for kids to re-imagine all the things they love doing with their deployed parent.
6. I Love my Daddy
The illustrations in this book are gorgeous — they give you a very sunshine glow vibe. It feels ALL warm and fuzzy. The book isn’t military specific, but explores a day in the life of a daddy bear and his bear cub. Celebrates the special bond dads have with their children.
7. Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops
Honestly, this book is so, so lovely. Written by Dr. Jill Biden, the book explores what it’s like for a military child preparing to say goodbye to her dad for one year. It touches on all the typical experiences of deployment like sending care packages, talking to dad on the computer, getting special support at school and having her dad come home.
8. Brave Like Me
For both boys and girls, this book addresses the worries, fears, challenges and victories military kids experience while their parent is away. It also offers tips and resources for parents. The part I love most is that it contains only pictures of actual service members and their kids — something all military kids can relate to!
9. A Paper Hug
This is a story about a little boy who figured out the best gift to give his dad who was leaving to serve his country . . . a paper hug. It’s so sweet, but also offers something real and actionable military kids can do during deployment. This is the perfect book to read right before sending off letters and care packages to a deployed parent.
10. Countdown ‘Till Daddy Comes Home
There is a mommy version for this one too! This is not military specific, but is about a boy waiting for his daddy to come home from a trip (so could be useful for all those training / work ups / TDY trips). It’s a great way to give variety to books for military kids during deployment.
11. Night Catch
This is such a comforting storyline to kids…When a soldier’s work takes him half-way around the world, he enlists the help of the North Star for a nightly game of catch with his son.
Sally Zoll of United Through Reading says, “Keeping military families connected during deployment is the core of our work. Brenda’s exceptional imagery allows military families to realize mindfulness–keeping the parent in the mind of the child and the child in the mind of the parent. Night Catch is the best of the best!”
12. My Daddy Sleeps Everywhere
This children’s military deployment book shows some of the many places daddy sleeps while he is away. In this wonderful story, daddy travels to every clime and place including the mountains, the prairie, the jungle, and everywhere in between. Though daddy’s particular location and sleeping arrangements are constantly changing, one thing never does. No matter how far daddy is from home, home is never far from his mind.
13. Hug in the Wind
This book is written and illustrated by a Navy Pilot, who made this book while deployed using colored pencils and spare paper, then took pictures of the pages to send home for his son’s second birthday. The pictures are beautiful and the story details how a parent’s hug can travel around the world and into a child’s heart. Easy comprehension and visual imagery for younger kids.
14. Deployment: One of Our Pieces is Missing
In Deployment: One of Our Pieces is Missing, our family must learn to stretch and adapt as they find their new normal while Dad is gone. And once home again, they work through a mix of emotions as he settles back into the family frame.
15. Monroe Tales: It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later
This book is about a fun-loving dog named Monroe whose owner goes away on a military deployment. It allows young readers to relate to high-spirited Monroe as he navigates the struggles many children face when a family member leaves for an extended period of time. A short and simple read for younger kids.
16. Superheroes’ Kids: When Dad is Deployed
17. Daddy Left With Mr. Army
In Daddy Left with Mr. Army, author Chandelle Walker offers insight from a child’s perspective to help you understand the emotions your child may be feeling as a separation occurs.
Based on Walker’s personal experiences in a military family dealing with deployments, Daddy Left with Mr. Army helps both children and parents open a conversation about the time away. Through rhyme and illustrations, this picture book shares the challenges of deployment but also the joys of serving the United States in the military.
18. Who is Sam the Soldier?
Kids often wonder what a soldier actually does. Why does he dress that way? Could I be a soldier one day? Private First Class Sam Smith is a soldier in the U.S. Army. Come along with Sam as he tells all about what it’s like to live, work, and (even) relax like a soldier. A fantastic book to help kids understand what mom or dad does during deployment.
19. My Mom’s Boots
This is a book dedicated to military mom’s and their children. As a female service member leaving for a deployment, I found a shortage of books geared toward mothers leaving their children behind and trying to help them understand the importance of what their moms were going to be doing. Enjoy!
There’ More: 3 Important Ways to Read to Kids
Reading is a powerful tool to using with military kids during deployment, but there are 3 ways you can make it even more powerful.
1. Read the same book over and over again.
Have any of you noticed how your kids ask for the same book over and over again? My kids do this all the time now. When I finish a book and there is a typically a chorus of “again, mommy!” Here’s WHY these repeat readings matter: Repeat picture book readings also boost comprehension. Different nuances and aspects of a story will come to life as you read that book multiple times. This can help your child understand the story at a much deeper level than if it were glossed over once.
2. Let the child tell the story by looking at the pictures.
Having your child read YOU the story helps you understand their comprehension of the book. They aren’t reading the words, but rather looking at the pictures and telling you the story. Doing this can offer invaluable insight into the heart and mind of your child.
3. Hold space for this special time.
Your child may want to talk more about certain topics after reading books on deployment. Hold space for this special time, knowing that you are building connection with them, creating an emotional foundation and helping them process. Reading with your kids during deployment is one of the most powerful things you can do.
Want more on military life?
- How to Make Your Own Daddy Doll for Military Kids — A Tutorial
- Best Toys and Resources for Military Kids During Deployment
- How to Prepare Your Child’s School for Deployment
- 47 Things No One Tells You About Being a Military Wife
I want All of these books!!! Thank you for posting this very precious subject so close to our hearts!
You should also read, Military Hurble Flurble; Ben’s Terrible Tantrum available on Amazon.com It said is it part of the Military Families Fortified Series, but i didn’t find any others and their website is underconstruction. It is a great full color book with some tools for children and parents during deployment. It is helpful and a fun read for children and parents.
Hope you are doing great!
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Where are the books for kids who’s mothers are the deployed member?
Hi Leah! I recently wrote a book called SECOND IN COMMAND where the main character’s mother is deployed. It is intended for middle-high schoolers.
I am the co- author and illustrator of two children’s picture books. My father was a Korean War veteran If the USN and had cared for a little pup that was snuck aboard a carrier set for Japan. My father told these stories to me as a civilian working for the U.S. Navy and would leave on carrier trips for weeks at a time . We would miss him and he would tell us his “Bingo” stories. These would help us while he was gone. We have two titles
Eddie and Bingo: A Friendship Tale
Eddie and Bingo: Destination Christmas.
Thank you for what you do!
All the Best,
Thank you for this list! I would like to add another: When Dad’s at Sea by Mindy Pelton. My kids loved this one!
I was just going to recommend this one as well! It’s a great one.
I recommend The Island (for teens and older). https://www.jlpattison.com/books
“Where is Deploy” is a children’s book written to help parents explain military deployments to kids. This book aims to relieve anxiety and uncertainty military children face when their loved ones are away fighting for freedom.
Two active-duty Air Force members, Lawrence Blanco and Jason Riggs collaborated to make this book a reality. Please like and share the “Where is Deploy” page with others you think will enjoy it.
Thanks for your love and support!
Hello! This website is amazing! thank you! Are there any books or resources you would recommend to help prepare a three year old boy for his father’s deployment? Thanks in advance!
I just recently published a children’s book about a father who is deployed and his daughter is about to turn 6 yrs old. She is sad because she knows her daddy won’t be able to come home for her birthday. This book is about how her daddy gives her the biggest surprise birthday gift. I am in the process of writing another book about a son with a mother that is deployed to. I posted the link to my book below. If you wouldn’t mind adding my book to your list, I’d appreciate it! Thank you all so much!