If you’re like me, you find it important to share with kids stories about the human beings, moms and dads, sisters and brothers, in the military. Share Memorial Day and Veterans Day books like these books for the holiday or any time, but especially to honor the service of the dedicated individuals who defend our country.
Whether your family is a military family or you want to expose your children to what it’s like to be a soldier or a soldier’s family, I think you’ll find some valuable books on this ever-expanding list. (I need to find more modern-day stories.)
Dog lovers will be particularly interested to see the many stories about service dogs and military dogs.
Memorial Day and Veterans Day Books for Kids
When Your Daddy’s a Soldier by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan, illustrated by EG Keller
We’ve needed this book in the world for a while now, so I’m happy there is a story that represents military families. What can you expect when “your daddy’s a soldier” — that you like to wear camo like him but sometimes he has to work far away and go to war and you might cry. While he’s away, you send him pictures and letters, and he writes back when he can. And the day better than your birthday is when your daddy comes home!
Brave Like Me by Barbara Kerley (National Geographic)
Photographs of real children pair with simple text describing the emotional journey of having a parent deployed. “I look at the map, but Mom feels far away.” or “Sometimes I feel angry Dad can’t come to my game or sad when he misses my show at school.” The book ends with suggestions for caregivers for helping military children deal with separation from a parent. It’s an excellent resource for all ages of children that acknowledges the challenges they’re going through.
Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog by Former Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, USA with Bret Witter, photographs by Dan Dion
Luis experiences post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities. His service dog, Tuesday, helps Luis’ nightmares and balance as he walks down the subway stairs. This picture book follows a typical day in the life of Luis and Tuesday from breakfast to bedtime. It’s a wonderful introduction to service dogs.
America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Mike Benny
In honor of their uncle, Katie and her sisters help prepare the White Table. They learn why no one sits at the White Table and what each item on the table symbolizes. The White Table is used in the United States as a remembrance for fallen, missing, and captive service members.
What a story — and it’s true!! This book shares the difficult history of the Navajos and focuses on how the Navajo men used their unique language to help win WWI. The information is factual in its presentation (it could have been more emotionally charged but isn’t) which lets the readers draw their own conclusions. The illustrations perfectly depict the tone of this historical story. Very well done!
Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero by Patricia McCormick, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
Soldier Song A True Story of the Civil War by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Gilbert Ford
Soldiers fighting in the Civil War think they are on the right side, whether fighting for the North or the South. Then, a shared song of longing for home brings opposite sides together, if just for a short time.
Anna Strong: A Spy During the American Revolution by Sarah Glenn Marsh, illustrated by Sarah Green
During the Revolutionary War, a lady named Anna Strong helped the Patriots by spying on the Loyalists and the British army. America needed her and she delivered. This is unique American history wrapped up in a wonderful picture book story.
Gabe: The Dog Who Sniffs Out Danger by Thea Feldman, illustrated by Chris Danger
Meet Gabe. Gabe has an important job: He uses his canine sense of smell to find weapons before they hurt anyone. Gabe saves lives! When he isn’t sniffing out explosives in Iraq, Gabe spends his time cheering up wounded soldiers in the hospital and visiting schools across the United States.
Willow The Therapy Dog (Doggy Defenders)
Willow works as a therapy dog to help people feel better if they are sad — like patients in the hospital and students at a school and retired veterans. And the photos of Willow in her pajamas after a long day of work are absolutely adorable.
Tiger The Police Dog (Doggy Defenders)
Tiger is a Belgian Malinois police dog. Tiger works with a police officer to protect the city. Tiger sniffs for danger in different places like a school or a metro trash can.
Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider: Based on a True Story by E.F. Abbott
To help her father’s regiment gather to fight the British, 16-year old Sybil rides alone at night, calling for her father’s soldiers.
Pararescue Corps by Michael P. Spradlin, illustrated by Spiros Karkavelas
I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 #15 by Lauren Tarshis
After trying to help a slave escape his uncle’s beating, Nate runs away to New York City where he finds himself at a military camp with American soldiers. He only 11 but ends up in the middle of the Battle of Brooklyn. Fast-paced action plus historical facts will help readers experience the atmosphere of the time period.
Charlotte Spies for Justice A Civil War Survival Story (Girls Survive) by Nikki Shannon Smith
Based on the true story of a courageous female spy in the South during the Civil War. Charlotte is a servant girl in Elizabeth Van Lew’s house, who becomes a spy for the Union. Readable, compelling, and interesting.
Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink, illustrated by Jon Bozak
The Way of the Warrior Kid is a self-help book of sorts wrapped in a fictional story that is surprisingly engaging and interesting to read. Marc’s Navy SEAL Uncle Jake stays for the summer and in that time, transforms Marc’s life in three months. Marc starts out as a discouraged bad-at-math, weak, average kid who gets picked on by a bully but he decides to take his uncle’s advice and try a different approach. Marc learns discipline, persistence, daily habits, and even how to learn — and it transforms his life.
Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine. by Jennifer Li Shotz
Max is a highly trained military canine who has always protected his fellow soldiers. But when he loses his handler and best friend, Kyle, Max is traumatized and unable to remain in the service. He is sent home to America, where the only human he connects with is his handler’s brother, Justin.
Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata
Cracker is a bomb-sniffing dog. The fate of entire platoons rests on her keen sense of smell. She’s a Big Deal, and she likes it that way. Sometimes Cracker remembers when she was younger, and her previous owner would feed her hot dogs and let her sleep in his bed.
Dog Tags #1: Semper Fido by C. Alexander London
When Gus Dempsey joins the US Marine Corps, he knows without a doubt that he will make a great dog handler. He’s always been good with dogs. In fact, he’s often better with dogs than he is with people. But Loki is not the dog that Gus was expecting. Fun-loving and playful, Loki acts more like a pet than the well-trained, bomb-sniffing Marine that he’s supposed to be.
The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA by Brenda Woods
Mr. Meriwether Hunter pushes Gabriel out of the path of an oncoming car which begins a relationship between a young white boy and the black WWII vet. Gabriel’s eyes slowly notice the discrimination that his new friend and his friend’s family face — including that Mr. Hunter doesn’t talk about being a soldier. It’s a realistic, historical narrative that introduces kids to the south’s prejudices as well as the treatment of veterans after WWII.