My school of approximately 500 students is adjacent to two military bases. Military families send their students to my school to experience living off base in the wilds of Alaska and yet still be within driving distance of work and the grocery store. We have foxes run through our parking lot and we watch carefully for bears and moose on our playground. This idyllic community allows children to grow up living the true Alaska experience with a dependence on community, in case of extreme weather or wildlife.
We have had several major deployments of military personal to Afghanistan in the last two years.
The school’s library is the primary source for reading materials for my students. Because we have so many students from different places around the United States and the world it is important to offer a diverse collection that shows equal representation of all types of students. We do not own any books that would help students understand their parent’s deployment. Nor own any books that help others recognize the challenges of having a parent deployed.
Children feel abandoned, adrift and helpless when their parent(s) get deployed. These feelings can be hard to manage, especially when others do not understand what they are going through. You have the opportunity to help my students by enriching their lives through books that will help them cope.
Students need to identify with the characters in books.
They need to see others struggling with the same challenges that they are going through, the anger at not having parents at home or having to move to a new town every couple of years. Books have the ability to help our children transform, to feel that they have a place and a friend who, like them, can overcome obstacles to find success. These stories assist others in understanding their plight and the issues of trying to maintain a family across the world. They will help all children recognize that sometimes being angry really means that someone is sad.
We have a military counselor who shares the joy of reading with her students during military lunches. She will use these books for her lunches and they will be available in the library for checkout. Lessons can be developed around the books for classroom teachers or in the library to help the school as we manage the deployment of entire squadrons from the community. The books are a desperately needed resource for our military and nonmilitary community. Some of our children may not have military parents but parents who work on the North Slope of Alaska or commercial fish in Bristol Bay. These parents can be gone on hitches that stretch from six weeks to six months.
These books benefit all children who have their parents gone for a period of time and will support them through the heartache of missing a parent.
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