Have you ever wished you could communicate more clearly on a bad cellphone line? Then maybe you need Alpha, Bravo, Charlie to learn about the phonetic military alphabet. Written as a children’s alphabet book Alpha, Bravo, Charlie is an informational book with plenty for children (and adults!) to learn, but is also very entertaining, especially for children who don’t like talking animals and prefer their picture books to be about real things. Each page, or double page spread features a letter of the alphabet along with its phonetic alphabet equivalent and naval signal flag. A military-related event or piece of military equipment is briefly described, often alliteratively. For example, S Sierra “Sailors Salute”, B Bravo “A battalion of brave soldiers get ready for battle” and F Foxtrot “Foot soldiers wear bulletproof flak jackets”. The illustrations are richly colored, active and detailed and help make a bright and attractive book including a bold blue cover and end papers decorated with navy signal flags. This is another book I used in the storytime for military families. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie is a great choice to be read aloud for military children to see pictures of what their military parent may do at work. I also recommend it for young readers who are fascinated by secret codes and love to read about construction equipment and other huge machines. There are few machines as impressive as a Navy destroyer, a Coast Guard icebreaker or a fighter plane!

Check the WRL catalog for Alpha, Bravo, Charlie.


This month marks the centenary of the start of World War I. Such an important historical event is something children should know about, but most depictions are far too disturbing for small children. The library owns several picture books that introduce children to World War I in a more accessible, nonthreatening way, such as Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon, Fly, Cher Ami, Fly!: the Pigeon Who Saved the Lost Battalion by Robert Burleigh, or The Donkey of Gallipoli: a True Story of Courage in World War I, by Mark Greenwood. Knit Your Bit is even more suitable for small children as it has minimal depictions of the front line. It came out last year and is based on a real knitting competition in Central Park in July, 1918. As the book starts Mikey’s Pop goes off to war on a steam train and Mikey wants to do something BIG to help. His mother and sister suggest knitting for the soldiers but Mikey doesn’t want to do something so girlish. Then they hear about a knitting Bee in Central Park, so the boys in Mikey’s class are challenged into setting up the Boys’ Knitting Brigade and know that they will beat their rivals the Purl Girls. During World War I the “Knit for Sammy” program was so widespread that there were even sheep on the White House lawn! The cartoonish ink and watercolor illustrations warmly capture the characters’ emotions while the endpapers include historical photographs of children knitting during World War I. Try this book for small military children to reflect their experience of an absent parent, or for historical information about World War I or just a warmhearted and interesting story.

Check the WRL catalog for Knit Your Bit.



As I wrote last year over two million children have a parent serving in the United States military. The world is changing and the military is changing, but what is unlikely to change is that most military children are very young and are confused about why their parent has to go away and what they do when they are away. Hero Dad will help young military children with their confusion. It is a simple picture book with one sentence per page, to be read aloud to the youngest military children. The sentences are split into two parts, with the first part suggesting a super ability that a comic book hero might have and then the second part lists the equivalent military ability. So my dad “doesn’t wear rocket propelled boots” instead “he wears Army boots”. Or my dad “doesn’t wear a cloak that makes him invisible – he wears camouflage.” The illustrations are active and warm, showing the father using his super abilities in a far-off place. The book starts with the Hero Dad saying goodbye and ends with him returning and warmly embracing his son.
A new book in series, Hero Mom, came out in 2013. This one starts with seven different children saying. “Our moms are superheroes” and follows the same pattern, so for a mechanic it says “My mom can’t transform into a machine, but she can make airplanes fly, trucks run, and tanks roll.” Hero Mom shows a mom and daughter skyping – a common and important method of communication for military families. Again the book ends with a mom and child warmly embracing after she returns.
Many of the other books depicting children who have a parent in the military (click here for a list) are too complicated for the youngest children, so I highly recommend Hero Dan and Hero Mom for the smallest military children who have short attention spans and limited experience of the world. For other small children the books can show some of the many different things parents do when they leave for work.
This is a book I used in a storytime for military families at the Williamsburg Regional Library.

Check the WRL catalog for Hero Dad.



DotThis is a book of opposites as demonstrated…by a dot. This is a very well done and cute concept book…one could even say it was spot on! This book is simple enough for the baby/toddler crowd but has enough inherent humor in it to attract the older crowd’s attention.





Dot 1Dot 2


Extremely simple illustrations are perfect for viewing from a distance and yet also offer up some surprising detail for the more attuned visual observer. I have to admit, this book gave me a bit of a giggle! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Concept Book


Check the WRL catalog for Dot. 

A Farmer's Life For MeI am a librarian, and I love to sing! Not being good at it has never bothered me much and when I picked up A Farmer’s Life for Me I knew I had found another winner. The nice thing about this sing-able picture book is that it includes a repeated chorus of “1, 2, 3, it’s a farmer’s life for me” so not only do you get to sing, but the kids do too! The nice colorful illustrations can be seen easily from a distance and the book would work well for a farm themed storytime.


  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Song


Check the WRL catalog for A Farmer’s Life for Me!


Feelings!Lift-the-flap books are utterly delightful reads to share with kids. They love getting the chance to interact with the reader and make guesses about what might be hidden under the flap. Feelings! by Tad Carpenter is a very nice introduction to the topic of emotions. This is a subject that many children understand and relate to, and one that is rarely discussed in such a simple, appealing way. Filled with bright, expressive illustrations this book has high visual appeal for the very young.


  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Lift-the-flap

Feelings Bear 1


Feelings Bear 2















Check the WRL catalog for Feelings!

Some Bugs






Bug 1Bugs! Every kid loves them! This fun, rhyming read-a-loud will have you loving them too. Lines such as “Some bugs STING. Some bugs BITE. Some bugs STINK. And some bugs FIGHT.” just beg to be read aloud to a group of children. The illustrations are warm and whimsical, with a slightly comical tilt. Those darn cute googily eyes make even spiders tolerable! Yet the illustrations are still detailed enough to lend themselves to a nice conversation if you happen to read it one-on-one with a child.

  • Storytime or lapsit appropriate
  • Easily viewed illustrations
  • Rhyming book


Check the WRL catalog for Some Bugs.


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