War: A Children’s Book is a massive volunteer effort, across multiple continents and language groups, to safely introduce children to the reality and root causes of war:
In faraway places with strange sounding names
People live in fear of the soldiers and planes,
The thunder of hundreds of thousands of boots,
The rat-tat-tat-tat of their guns as they shoot.
A family’s home, where they’ve lived all their life
Can disappear in the course of one single night.
It travels through ethnic conflict in ways that let a child see how even they could get caught up in such hysteria:
If you want to know why hate is so easy to breed
Think of your own family and their history:
If your grandpa told you about a murderous band
Of men in the next town who took HIS grandpa’s land
And he told you about all the people they’d killed,
Some relations of yours, do you think you’d be thrilled?
If you went over there and saw on that place
A girl of your age with a smile on her face?
You wouldn’t think, as too many do,
That her whole family’s guilty, the little girl, too.
You would remember, like a reasonable kid,
That this girl didn’t do what her ancestors did.
That in whatever has happened in the past century or two
The little girl has no more guilt than you.
It helps children build their own strategies to prevent conflict:
You may stare at some person in strange-patterned clothes
With a different skin color or pointier nose.
This person is special, this person is new.
Don’t think, “What is that?” Instead think, “Who are you?”
‘Cause whatever you’re thinking, as they stare back at you
This strange new human’s probably thinking it, too.
And it gives them a way forward, with hope to end war.
And it all starts with you, with your compassionate powers,
We’ll stop sending bombs, and begin sending flowers.
After a long editing process including dozens of activists and educators and the advice of prestigious children’s authors, including legendary children’s entertainer Barry Louis Polisar, and a long community effort to make the book public, it was picked up by a publisher and found its way to bookstores, both real and online, in Spring 2016. Since then it has been translated and reenvisioned in 4 languages and has been viewed by educators, trauma therapists, and parents as a tool not simply of spreading peace, but of altering a child’s view of war as inevitable.