Happy April! Spring is officially upon us, bringing colorful blossoms, sunny days, and the Month of the Military Child, during which we celebrate the children of our service members and veterans.

In this month’s Playful Guide, we’ve included a list of picture books to help children learn and discuss either their own experiences or the experiences of others as children of military members, because stories about managing emotions can help children to identify, understand, and express their feelings in healthy ways. We’ve also included a list of local resources for military families both on and off base.

Did you know?

Washington State’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the home of the Children’s Museum at JBLM, which is the only children’s museum on a military installation in the world. The Museum opened on August 1, 2020, to provide access to play as a natural, proven remedy for children’s stress and a critical method of developing and strengthening parental attachment.

Please note that only individuals who have access to enter Joint Base Lewis-McChord can visit the Children’s Museum at JBLM. Please get in touch with the JBLM Visitor Center for any questions about base access.

Picture Books for April

There are lots of picture books for those of all ages to learn about the experiences of children with military families and for these children to develop tools to manage their feelings. We’ve highlighted some of our top picks below, so consider checking some of these stories out from your local library!

I’m a Dandelion

I’m a Dandelion

by Brooke Mahaffey

This PCS (Permanent Change of Station) story is perfect for young military children who are navigating the challenges of frequent moves and adapting to new environments. Dandelions represent military children because their seeds are spread great distances by the wind, but will plant roots and blossom wherever they land.

Night Catch

Night Catch

by Brenda Ehrmantraut

Keeping families connected while they are apart is important, so when deployment takes a soldier across the world, he enlists the help of the North Star for a nightly game of catch with his son.

Lily Hates Goodbyes

Lily Hates Goodbyes

by Jerilyn Marler

Lily is a young military child who is often separated from her father and experiences a lot of big feelings that can be scary. This story allows children to learn how to cope with her emotions and to be happy in her daily life alongside Lily as she looks forward to joyfully saying hello when her father gets home.

Sometimes We Were Brave

Sometimes We Were Brave

by Pat Brisson

Jerome’s mother is in the Navy, and when her ship goes to sea, she tells Jerome to be brave. However, he doesn’t feel brave at all. Then, one day, he learns that bravery means something very different than he thought it did.

Further Reading

Looking for more great titles? Ask your local librarian for recommendations!


Local Resources in the Community

The Children’s Museum at JBLM

Greentrike is proud to power the Children’s Museum at JBLM, the goal of which is to provide support for families and expand access to playful and educational experiences for all families, regardless of how much they can pay. The Children’s Museum at JBLM was built to serve children and their families, with an emphasis on early learners, those experiencing special needs, and the reintegration of our military into family life.

Play to Learn

Play to Learn is a free program for families with children below the age of six. It serves several locations all across Pierce County, with one class per week taking place on post at the Children’s Museum at JBLM. Adults are encouraged to be involved in the learning and playing process to strengthen bonds and attachment. Teachers are trained in early childhood development, so parents are invited to ask any questions about child behavior and development.

Blue Star Families of Puget Sound

Blue Star Families is an organization dedicated to connecting military families with their neighbors in order to help military families overcome the isolation and alienation caused by frequent moves, deployments, and other challenges that they face.

Rachel Carpenter, the Puget Sound Region Program Manager, shares supportive resources and programming that are available to active-duty and veteran families as they explore and get to know their community.

JBLM Libraries

Libraries at Joint Base Lewis-McChord are more than just places to read and borrow books. Each month, the libraries hold family-friendly events, storytimes, playgroups, workshops, and more!

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP)

Families may already be familiar with the Exceptional Family Member Program, or EFMP, a program for families with members who have special needs.

The Children’s Museum at JBLM hosts a weekly get-together on Mondays at 10 a.m. for families enrolled in EFMP. Each meeting is child-friendly and held in a low-sensory environment, with information readily available about the program.