Peace Through Picture Books

My friend Caren Stelson and I started writing a monthly column in Bookology Magazine called Peace-ology. We are exploring how we can encourage peacemaking through picture books, curious questions and intentional action steps. Below are excerpts our first few articles:

January: Reading Books Through the Lens of Peace

Ellie: I read to my three- and five-year-old children every single day. They memorize lines from books and book characters are the basis for our imaginative play. I also teach peace literacy to teenagers. I am fascinated as a parent and teacher which books spark curiosity in kids and broaden their universe. Which books lead to true exploration around power and reconciliation? Which beautifully show humanities unfolding with a bend toward justice? I am actively on the look-out for books that inform our imaginations about what kind of healed world is possible. READ the full article HERE.

February: Knowing Your Past to Make Peace

Ellie: The other day, I looked over the shoulder of my five-year-old to see what he was drawing. There was the Ireland flag on the left, the Norway flag on the right, and he was finishing the United States flag in the middle. Simon was born on the day his great grandmother died. He has always been curious about his ancestors. When my spouse’s extended family sings the Norwegian table prayer in harmony, Simon joins in enthusiastically. I love feeding this curiosity of his in part because I believe we need to know where we come from and where we are currently standing to move toward a peaceful future.


In raising peacemakers capable of reconciliation, I have committed to filling our house with books written by and about Native people so my children will know the history of the land we inhabit. One of our current favorites is Shi-Shi-Etko by Nicola L. Campbell. Shi-Shi-Etko (Groundwood Books) tells the story of a girl spending her last four days with her family before being taken away to a residential school. Her extended family fill her mind and heart with memories, knowledge and love so she will not forget where she came from. She visits the woods, the river and the creek, gathering bits of nature to take with her. It is tragic and beautiful. The stunning images pair well with the poetic words, both infusing our hearts. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

March: Peace and the Sense of Belonging

Caren: Home. Community. A sense of belonging. Don’t we all long for love and connection? And when the anchored sense of belonging disappears, we spot it — on the drawn face of a child alone on a playground or on an elderly face of someone alone on a park bench. Haven’t we all felt that moment of dislocated loneliness? If no one reaches out to us and brings us into a circle of kindness, loneliness can twist into dangerous alienation. “More together than alone” a phrase used by poet, author, and teacher, Mark Nepo, is my new mantra.

I Walk with Vanessa

I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet (Schwartz & Wade Books) is an expressive, wordless picture book that captures Vanessa’s lonely feelings as a new student and her fright when the class bully verbally attacks her on her way home from school. A girl in a yellow dress watches from a distance then finds kindness and courage to reach out to Vanessa in friendship. It’s a small gesture, but one that multiplies. Eventually an entire community of happy friends accompany Vanessa on her way to school the next morning. The mantra, “more together than alone” rescues Vanessa and strengthens the compassion of the community of kids. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Our April article, about compassion and empathy, is coming soon!