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4 Kids' Books For Peace-Loving (Pacifist) Religions

Updated on May 8, 2014

What a Wonderful World

Crab apple blossoms
Crab apple blossoms | Source

Sometimes it takes a little sleuthing to find quality stories that support one's values. In the United States of America much money goes to the military and the civilian businesses which support it. (Contrast this with the country of Costa Rica which abolished its military and now has one of the highest per capita literacy rates in the world.) If one is looking for children's books to entertain and concurrently reinforce the belief that killing is a bad activity, I recommend these.

Read-Alouds for Preschool and Early Elementary Years

The Story of Ferdinand

Written by Munroe Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson.

ISBN-10: 0590758179

ISBN-13: 0-590-75817-9

This classic picture book depicts a big strong masculine bull who is being pressured to be a fighter. (He is the animal metaphor for a "manly man.") Despite social pressure, he remains true to his own calling. In his case, he appreciates quietly sitting under a cork tree and sniffing flowers. He also has a mother who sees that he is not lonely and she understands him, so she permits the bull to be himself. The original pen-and-ink illustrations from 1948 have exquisite detail. The themes include being true to one's self and that enjoying peaceful pursuits is all right for a strong male.

How to turn war into peace

by Louise Armstrong and illustrated by Bill Basso.

ISBN-10 : 015236840X

ISBN-13 : 9780152368401

Pages : 30

I love this book. There are so many college political science and history textbooks on how to wage a war, yet this little picture book takes all the terminology and illustrates the words in the context of two kids scrapping while building sand castles at the beach. After it explains all the war escalation terms, it moves to diplomacy measures. It is brilliant and truly simple. The drawings are cartoon children in black, white, grays, and reds.

Read and Discuss for Elementary Age Children

The Butter Battle Book

by Dr. Suess

ISBN10: 0394867165

ISBN-13: 978-0394865805

Pages: 56

This story describes two diverse peoples who live adjacent to each other. In classic Suess-ian fashion they are the people who eat their butter bread with the butter side facing UP, and the people who eat it with the butter side facing the floor. They attack and counter-attack each other with ever-increasingly sophisticated weapons - truly an arms race. The conclusion is open-ended with each side possessing a weapon of mass annihilation and murder and poised to deploy it. This needs to be read with a mature adult to guide questions, possibly explain historic events that parallel this (Cuban missile crisis, ethnic cleansing horrors, Berlin Wall) and guide the child into ways individuals can work to prevent this sort of scenario from occurring.

Read and Discuss for Older Elementary Children

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

by Eleanor Coerr and illustrated by Ronald Himler.

ISBN-10: 0698118022

ISBN-13: 9780698118027

Pages: 80

This is a NON-FICTION 80-page chapter book which follows the illness of a little girl named Sadaka Sasaki who lived in Hiroshima, Japan during the atomic bombing in World War II. Sadako, who had been a star runner at her school, developed leukemia. As her health ebbs, she strives to make 1,000 folded origami cranes in hopes that she will be granted a wish. This is promised in an ancient Japanese folk story. The book's plot has Sadako fall short of this goal, but her friends complete the one thousand at her death. (In contrast, the exhibits at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park state that Sadako did meet her goal and continued folding more cranes until her death.) If it is not obvious, this is a three-hanky book.

This book leads the reader to consider the consequences of war on real humans. And, furthermore, is it worth it?

I know a very wise and gifted elementary teacher who was teaching 6th grade (age 11 to 12 years) in the USA in 1991. That year, there was alot of ballyhoo and fuss for the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor where over 2,000 Americans died. This attack ostensibly brought the country into World War II. The teacher observed many of her studentss adopting the jingoistic attitude of "We Americans are better than everyone else." "Those Japs deserved to be destroyed with nuclear bombs." etc. Wisely, she had her class read Sadako to understand another perspective..

The journey of raising a child to be aware that some people believe that there is NO justifiable war is a good journey. May these books help you on your way.

Photo and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan.

"This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth."

(from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial)

Walk in the Light

Available on mugs at link to the left.
Available on mugs at link to the left.


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      10 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Seafarer Mama, the book "How to turn war into peace" may be out of print. However, it is offered as a used book in various online bookstores. Also, I put in a request to Kindle to have them offer it.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 

      10 years ago from New England

      Hi Maren,

      Thanks for this list and descriptive paragraphs. I very much appreciate the thought and time that went into it. I'm a pacifist, too, and the only one I have not read to my daughter is the "How to Turn War Into Peace." Thanks for the ISBN numbers. I will try to find it. :0) Also time to revisit "The Butter Battle Book," which is so thought-provoking.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      10 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks, whonunuwho! Everyone has a voice in the choir.

    • whonunuwho profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      Thanks for this wonderful hub. I appreciate your work and what you are doing. Keep up the thoughtful work.Thank you.


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