The best books for military families dealing with deployment

Who am I?

I know the pain of separations. Navy doctor father. Missionary kid at boarding school in India. Military wife. Military mother. Separations suck. So when my three-year-old grandchild Lily struggled with her daddy’s deployment in 2010, I felt her pain. I composed the story and used personal photos to illustrate Lily Hates Goodbyes. Whenever we read about book Lily’s emotions, my Lily would say, “Just like me!” Wanting other children to have this cathartic experience, I hired Nathan Stoltenberg, a brilliant illustrator, and self-published the book. It’s available in a Navy version and an All Military version—the only difference is daddy’s uniform. Book Lily is a friend to young military children around the world. 


I wrote...

Lily Hates Goodbyes

By Jerilyn Marler, Nathan Stoltenberg (illustrator),

Book cover of Lily Hates Goodbyes

What is my book about?

Lily sometimes has to say goodbye to her Daddy for about a billion days. She feels a swirl of unhappy emotions that can be scary. She aches to feel connected to her Daddy while he's deployed. With Mommy’s help, Lily learns how to cope with her emotions and to be happy in her daily life while she looks forward to a joyful hello when Daddy gets home. 

The books I picked & why

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Momma's Boots

By Sandra Miller Linhart, Tahna Marie Desmond (illustrator),

Book cover of Momma's Boots

Why this book?

While most deployed service members are male, women serve and are deployed, too. I honor their contribution by including this touching book. When Momma puts on her military boots, little Bean grapples with questions of why and where and how long. Momma describes her work with references to other kinds of work that Bean understands. It’s a sweet conversation that provides a broader context for military work and assurance that Momma will return.

Momma's Boots

By Sandra Miller Linhart, Tahna Marie Desmond (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Momma's Boots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This award-winning deployment book for kids is a favorite of all major military branches: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reserves in military books and best deployment books for children.The illustrator has masterfully drawn the lovable and relatable characters to be racially non-specific; Bean is non-gender specific, as well. It's Boot's task to take Mommy where she's needed, but it's Momma's job to explain why.When Momma puts on her boots, Bean knows it's time to say good-bye, and maybe for a long time. What does Momma do when she goes? Do the other mommies wear boots…

When You Are Away

By Dominique James, Jasmine Mills (illustrator),

Book cover of When You Are Away

Why this book?

Written for grade school ages, this book lets children (military or not!) peek into a military family’s experiences as they struggle with the changes that happen when a parent is deployed. The children learn that nothing stays the same when a parent is away, except the way they love each other. I appreciate that the family is African-American. 

When You Are Away

By Dominique James, Jasmine Mills (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When You Are Away as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nothing is the same when a parent has to leave home for a while. See how things are different for these military kids when their dad goes on deployment.

Dear Military Teen: Moving, Deployments, and Winning The Game of High School

By Shanon Hyde,

Book cover of Dear Military Teen: Moving, Deployments, and Winning The Game of High School

Why this book?

There aren’t many military-focused books for teenagers, so I’m pleased to recommend this one. Teens face challenges just by being teens; add the complication of deployment separation and life can be extra daunting. The author, a 20-year Marine Corps brat, shares his wisdom and experiences in this straight-talk, no-nonsense guide.

Dear Military Teen: Moving, Deployments, and Winning The Game of High School

By Shanon Hyde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dear Military Teen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his book, ‘Dear Military Teen,’ Shanon Hyde explores crucial life lessons in the obstacles that military brats face. Reflecting on the moves and deployments that his own family endured, Shanon provides honest advice for military teens looking to take their next steps in high school, college, and beyond.
“No military teen should ever feel like they are the first ones to undergo a tough transition,” Shanon explains. “This book serves as a reminder that they are not alone.”
Shanon also equips military teens with the essential skills of maintaining friendships over distance, navigate new social environments, and effectively chase…

Deployment: Strategies for Working with Kids in Military Families

By Karen Petty,

Book cover of Deployment: Strategies for Working with Kids in Military Families

Why this book?

Whether you are a parent, teacher, caregiver, grandparent, or friend of a military child, you’ll gain understanding and develop strategies that help you to help the child through the pain and frustrations of deployment. The child needs you. This book will help you meet that need.

Deployment: Strategies for Working with Kids in Military Families

By Karen Petty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deployment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Military kids face many unique stressors and difficult transitions related to deployment, relocation, separation from loved ones, and changes in family structure. Caring for these kids requires a clear understanding of the challenges and triumphs military families deal with so that you can offer the best support possible.

Based on current research and best practices in child development and early education, Deployment provides purposeful information and theory-based strategies

Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings

By Kenneth R. Ginsburg,

Book cover of Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings

Why this book?

I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Ginsburg speak years ago and immediately bought this book. I’ve relied on it ever since and wish every parent could have a copy. As a pediatrician specializing in Adolescent Medicine, Ginsburg’s perspective and wisdom focus on strengthening family connections. Chapter 22 is specifically about military children, although the whole book will provide value for every family.

Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings

By Kenneth R. Ginsburg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building Resilience in Children and Teens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Help prepare the children and teens in your life to face life's challenges with grace and grit. In this award-winning guide author and pediatrician Dr. Ken Ginsburg shares his 7 crucial Cs: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control. You'll discover how to incorporate these concepts into your parenting style and communication strategies, thereby strengthening your connection. And that connection will position you to guide your child to bounce back from life's challenges and forge a meaningful and successful life. You'll also learn detailed coping strategies to help children and teenagers deal with the stresses of academic pressure, media…

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