Not sure how to talk to kids about what’s happening in world events? We’ve rounded up some books that provide an accessible way to talk to kids about lessons we can learn from history, and also included some books to use as resources for media literacy. Plus, see below to find journal entry prompts to help your kids process their emotions.
Because talking about current events–especially those involving war–can be a triggering experience for people at any age, it can be a good idea to allow kids to process what they’ve already seen and heard before starting any new conversations. By creating a space for kids to journal, they can start digesting their own emotions and responses. Keep in mind that some children have experienced the effects of war and may feel a personal connection to the Eastern European population closely impacted by Putin’s actions. To provide you with some talking points, we’ve found a list of sources that can help educators talk about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with students.
Sources for Talking to Children About the Attack on Ukraine
Teachers can offer a safe space for students to talk about the war in Ukraine and help them take action – with entry-level talking points for kids at varying ages
Hear what teens have to say about the war in Ukraine – teen posts from the New York Times forum
Journal Entry Prompts for Processing Current Events:
Prompt 1 for early education: Think about the news events that you’ve watched or heard adults talk about this week. What was the news? Do you think it is important? How do you feel about this news?
Prompt 2 for middle graders: Think about the news events that have happened this week. Choose the one event that you think is important, and write a paragraph journal entry about it. What happened? Why do you think it is important? How do you feel about what you’ve heard?
Prompt 3 for high schoolers: Think about the current events that have happened in the world this past week. Choose a specific event that you think is important, and write a multi-paragraph journal entry about it. What happened? Why is it important? Do you feel personally impacted by this? How can you empathize with those affected by the event?
Click the tabs below to view more books in each age category.
Willodeen by Katherine Applegate
From #1 New York Times bestseller Katherine Applegate, a singular middle-grade novel about a girl who risks everything to help a handmade creature who comes to life.
The earth is old and we are not, and that is all you must remember . . .
Eleven-year-old Willodeen adores creatures of all kinds, but her favorites are the most unlovable beasts in the land: strange beasts known as “screechers.” The villagers of Perchance call them pests, even monsters, but Willodeen believes the animals serve a vital role in the complicated web of nature.
Lately, though, nature has seemed angry indeed. Perchance has been cursed with fires and mudslides, droughts and fevers, and even the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, has dwindled. For as long as anyone can remember, the tiny animals have overwintered in shimmering bubble nests perched atop blue willow trees, drawing tourists from far and wide. This year, however, not a single hummingbear has returned to Perchance, and no one knows why.
When a handmade birthday gift brings unexpected magic to Willodeen and her new friend, Connor, she’s determined to speak up for the animals she loves, and perhaps even uncover the answer to the mystery of the missing hummingbears.
A timely and timeless tale about our fragile earth, and one girl’s fierce determination to make a difference.
Praise for Willodeen:
★ “Employing flawlessly simple, candid prose that belies deeper messages, Newbery Medalist Applegate again considers the complex relationship between humans and the natural world. … Fiercely protective Willodeen is easy to champion, and her belief that “nature knows more than we do” is a message worth sharing.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ “Applegate’s gentle yet honest tale mixes magic with very real environmental messaging, both warning of human-caused harm and pointing to nature’s resilience and interconnectedness… Applegate empowers her young characters by not only granting them courage but also ensuring they earn the respect of their elders.”—Booklist, starred review
“An endearing fable that illuminates the importance of recognizing that all living things serve a purpose in our beautifully complex world and are worthy of care and dignity.” —BookPage
Meet Joan He, the author of The Ones We’re Meant to Find, on sale May 4th! In this futuristic tale, a 16-year-old girl wakes up on an island with no memory of anything except for her sister. Her mission: she must use her STEM skills to get off the island, find her sister, and help humanity.
Joan shares her inspiration for the story here + request a digital ARC on NetGalley and start reading now!Read a Q&A with Joan here →
Stacy McAnulty’s fact and fun-filled Our Universe picture book series invites children to explore our solar system from the points-of-view of the celestial bodies that hang out among the stars. These charming and humorous “autobiographies” are beautifully illustrated by such artists as Stevie Lewis and David Litchfield.Download activity kits here →
Experiment with children’s book author Josephine Cameron and her brother, Alan, as they explore the tinkering projects found in Josephine’s newest novel, A DOG-FRIENDLY TOWN. Learn how to make brushbots and kinetic POP-sicle sticks, and discover ways to invent your own gadgets using parts you can find around the house. All you have to do is follow your curiosity!Learn more about A DOG-FRIENDLY TOWN here →
Red Rover is a gorgeously illustrated tale that explores the vast, inhospitable landscape of Mars and the adventures of the little rover that calls the planet its home.
Join Curiosity on its journey across the red planet in this innovative and dynamic nonfiction picture book by Richard Ho, illustrated by Sibert Honor winner Katherine Roy.Download the teacher’s guide here →
Add these picture books to your must-read list! The School & Library team shares more about these outstanding staff picks here.Look inside these picture books →
Nerdy Babies is a picture book series that will ignite curiosity in even the youngest readers and encourage them to ask questions and explore the world around them. With bright colorful art and easy-to-read text, the Nerdy Babies series encourages the youngest readers to explore the natural world around them from the depths of the ocean to the farthest reaches of space!
In Emmy Kastner’s newest picture book, Nerdy Babies: Weather follow our intrepid babies into the eye of the storm. Experience sunshine, wind, rain, and other weather patterns. Plus, learn about how we predict the weather in this simple text written in question and answer format. Watch Emmy read from the book below:
With bright colorful art and easy-to-read text, writer/illustrator Emmy Kastner’s Nerdy Babies picture books encourage the youngest readers to explore the natural world around them from the depths of the ocean to the farthest reaches of space!Download the activity kit here →