War is scary for everyone, children and adults. Listening to news reports about Afghanistan is difficult. I can't comprehend what our soldiers are going through. It is also difficult to understand how people can even live in this country. As much as we want to shelter our children from the news, perhaps we should embrace the good that happens in terrible places.
Adults have been reading Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea since 2006, when the book was first published. He tells the story of his failed attempt to climb K2. On his way back down he became lost in the mountains of Pakistan. He ended up staying in a poor village where he was overwhelmed by their kindness and vowed to come back and build schools. This happened in 1993, and as of now, he has built over 60 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His book has been adapted by Sarah Thomson for young adults (same title) and in a picture book edition with Susan L. Roth. That edition is called Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea. Roth's collages capture the people of Baltistan and their way of life in the mountains. It is a beautiful story that will shed light on people we know so little about. Learn about Dr. Greg and the great work he is doing.
Another author that will shed light on this area of the world is Deborah Ellis. She is Canadian and has traveled all over the world. I love her book The Breadwinner, and the sequel Parvana's Journey. This is the story of a family living under the tyranny of the Taliban, after the Soviet's have left Afghanistan. Parvana and her family live in Kabul. After her father dies, she must dress like a boy to try and earn money for her family. It is a sad story, a hard story. Ellis has visited Afghan refugee camps and heard many stories like Parvana's. These books can be read by fifth graders and older, more likely middle school students.
Check out these books to learn more about Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will give you and your children a different point of view than one of only war.