As deployments across the Atlanta area continue, many military families may be facing new challenges as they learn about first-time separations. Since deployments can be especially difficult for children to understand, it’s important for the stay at home parent or caregiver to help them comprehend the many changes, ups and downs a deployment can bring.
An excellent way for parents and children both to gain an understanding of the deployment process is to read books based on military history and lifestyle. By helping children and other family members to identify with others in their common circumstance, as well as to understand and appreciate their sacrifices, many books are available online and at local Atlanta libraries.
For the younger child, Douglas County born Peggy Mercer, wrote an excellent narrative based on the experiences of her own father as he served during WWII. “There Come a Soldier” tells the story of Peggy Mercer’s father as he grew from a boy playing and working on a rural southern farm into a young man serving in Europe during the trials of an historic era. Beautifully illustrated by artist, Ron Mazellan, the story is touching as it presents snippets of a soldier’s life in between memories of his time growing up and how those moments in childhood helped him through the uncertainty of war.
The illustrations are hauntingly moving and presented in an appropriate manner which represents both sides of war; from the perspective of a dedicated soldier told through the eyes of his daughter.
Another fine book to help children understand their military history and life, “While You Are Away” offers a perspective from three different military branches. Written by author Eileen Spinelli, It tells the stories of Army, Air Force and Navy children as they cope with their parents being deployed. With a poetic cadence, this picture book portrays the real thoughts and feelings often shared by all military children.
For the older military child, “Operation Homefront”, written by Caroline B. Cooney, takes a look behind the familial scenes during the first Gulf War in 1992. Often taking a humorous turn, “Operation Homefront” centers on the role of a military mother and the tolls and triumphs of her family after she is deployed. This book is highly recommended for those whose mothers are currently serving. Whether they are currently deployed are serving stateside, stories of women in the military are few and far between and “Operation Homefront” touches upon the very real circumstance of being deployed and being a mother.
Atlanta area bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and Borders will have a complete selection of books based on a military lifestyle. Parents are encouraged to read to their children nightly and to make a goal of finishing many books while the deployed parent is away. A special treat would be for the deployed member to also take a book and all family members read the same chapters each day while apart. This gives a sense of togetherness even when the family is separated for a time.