Talking with Caren Stelson and Ellie Roscher

Stars of the Night
A moving picture book about war and peace: "There will be times when you’ll feel lonely and homesick. Let the stars of the night and the sun of the day be the messenger of our thoughts and love."

Banned Books as Speaking Truth to Power

The Librarian of Basra
There is a difference between keeping peace and making peace. It is not about avoiding discomfort and trying to keep everybody happy, but bravely joining in the work of justice. There is a difference between keeping peace and making peace. It is not about avoiding discomfort and trying to keep everybody happy, but bravely joining in the work of justice.

Finding Peace through Reflection, Art, Story, and Higher Ground for Ourselves and Our Children

In this article, we explore finding peace within. How can we shift our hearts and minds towards peace? How can we help the children in our classrooms do the same? What books, both for children and adults, can support our efforts?

Finding Higher Ground through Peacebuilding

The Year We Learned to Fly
We explore the meaning of peacebuilding and what the infrastructure for peace can look like in one classroom and throughout a school. We also suggest a picture book and a book for the “adult on the rug,” both of which explore the deep concept of peacebuilding,

Big Worries in Little Bodies

It can be easy to dismiss the worries of a child, but to that child, they may feel consuming. When we do not name and talk about our anxieties, or when we do share them and they are discounted, shame around them can grow.

Compassionate Listening Deconstructs Fences

The Other Side
Caren: When my daugh­ter Beth was four­teen, she trav­eled with a small exchange group of teens to Poland where she would live with a cou­ple and their teen daugh­ter in a small vil­lage. In a true exchange, the Pol­ish teens then trav­eled to Min­neso­ta for a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence. Nei­ther group spoke the other’s lan­guage. Recent­ly, while clean­ing out box­es, I found a reflec­tion Beth wrote of that experience: The Pol­ish kids taught me one of the most valu­able lessons I have ever learned; the pow­er of a smile … I thought that to cre­ate the iron strong bonds of friend­ship, a com­mon lan­guage was essen­tial.
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Tiny Steps Toward Peace

Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed
When I say the word Peacemaker, who is the first person that comes to mind? It is so important to teach children about famous peacemakers but if we only teach about folks who have become larger than life, children may put peacemaking on a pedestal that seems unattainable for themselves.

Finding Peace While Grieving

The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota's Garden
Some days are tough. During this COVID-19 pandemic, our children face plenty of challenges. Loss of playground time. Loss of playdates. Changes in school routines. Changes in home routines. These days, children may need more time alone on a “peace blanket” to grieve their former lives. The rest of us may need the same.

The Alchemy of Fry Bread

Fry Bread
Bread brings people together. The ingredients in bread are so elemental. When combined with love, they nourish and sustain a people. At the center of a gathering, at the center of a culture is a foundational grain that sustains life—naan, tortilla, rice, ugali, injera, and fry bread to name a few. Food, then, is a bridge between worlds.

Eco-Peace: Reimagining the Possibility

Peace-ology
Part of our work as peace­mak­ers is to prop­er­ly sit­u­ate our­selves in a web of life. We are crea­tures in a vast, bril­liant and com­plex ecosys­tem called not to dom­i­nate, but to live with in har­mo­nious rela­tion­ship. Chil­dren often seem nat­u­ral­ly drawn to ani­mals and nature, with an inher­ent abil­i­ty to walk gen­tly on the green earth. As they grow, there are many won­der­ful books to nur­ture their instincts toward eco­log­i­cal peace.
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The Kindness Factor

Each Kindness
As we write this article, we are in the middle of a world-wide pandemic and a consequential election season. Both events ask us to address big, core questions: What kind of people do we want to be? How do we resolve our conflicts?

Naming Your Labels

Red A Crayon Story
Living from a Place of Inner Peace
Ellie: Michael Hall’s Red: A Crayon’s Sto­ry is the tale of a blue cray­on with a red label. The cray­on was not very good at being red. He couldn’t draw straw­ber­ries or work with yel­low to draw an orange. Every­one tried to help. Even scis­sors and sharp­en­ers made snips and tucks to see if chang­ing him would help.
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No Justice. [No Action.] No Peace.

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights
Caren: “No jus­tice. No peace.” This sum­mer, mil­lions of peo­ple – young, old and from all back­grounds — protest­ed police bru­tal­i­ty and sys­temic racism, all dur­ing an his­toric pan­dem­ic. Ellie Rosch­er and I live in Min­neapo­lis, Min­neso­ta, not far from where George Floyd was mur­dered by a Min­neapo­lis police offi­cer and close to the epi­cen­ter of march­es and protests.… more

War and Peace

A Bowl Full of Peace
What hap­pened to me must nev­er hap­pen to you.” Caren: Those were the first words Sachiko Yasui, a Nagasa­ki atom­ic bomb sur­vivor, told me as we began our work togeth­er writ­ing her sto­ry. On August 9, 1945, at 11:02, six-year-old Sachiko was play­ing out­side with her friends, mak­ing mud dumplings, when the sec­ond atom­ic bomb of World War II explod­ed over her city of Nagasa­ki.… more

Peace and the Sense of Belonging

A Map into the World
Caren: “More Togeth­er than Alone,” 
Peace and the Sense of Belonging
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?… more

Knowing Your Past to Make Peace

Shi-Shi-Etkp
Wel­come to Peace-olo­gy. We are two children’s authors team­ing up to review children’s books with peace in mind.  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.… more

Reading Books Through the Lens of Peace

Peace
Wel­come to Peace-olo­gy. We are two children’s authors team­ing up to review children’s books with peace in mind.  Caren: After all our inter­views for our book Sachiko: A Nagasa­ki Bomb Survivor’s Sto­ry, I asked the book’s inspi­ra­tion, peace edu­ca­tor Sachiko Yasui, if she had any last words she would like to share with children. Sachiko’s response was to think about this: What is peace?more

Vera’s Story Garden

A Chair for My Mother
Ver­a’s Sto­ry Gar­den Estab­lished
as a Lit­er­ary Land­mark by Unit­ed for Libraries May 4, 2019
by Mary Paige Lang-Clouse, Direc­tor
Ethel­bert B. Craw­ford Pub­lic Library
Mon­ti­cel­lo NY I met Vera B. Williams in the ear­ly 2000s while work­ing at the pub­lic library in Nar­rows­burg, N.Y. It should come as no sur­prise to any­one that knew her that Vera didn’t waste any time iden­ti­fy­ing and using her local pub­lic library.… more