Books for Raising Conflict-Sensitive and Peace Promoting (CSPP) Kids

Last week, in my Peace Quote Musing on a Monday post, I raised the following question:

How do we raise children who would choose integrity, fairness, and generosity so that he or she might contribute to a just society; choose dialogue, collaboration and other peaceful means of resolving conflict so that there would be no more war; choose to protect this earth so that all may have enough?

As many peace education advocates would opine,  the ability of young people and adults to make decisions that would contribute to a culture of peace lies on their education.

To raise children who are conflict-sensitive, who are able to identify manifestations of violence and conflict, we have to encourage their inquisitiveness and sharpen their ability to critically think about relevant social issues such as human rights, gender equality, social and economic justice, non-violence, sustainable development, etc. To empower them as peace-promoting kids who could act for peace, we must also nurture them to learn courage and compassion and skills to resolve issues using non-violent means (i.e. dialogue, negotiation).

This is a huge undertaking but it can be done. Let’s start with something simple – some books for our storytelling session, whether at home or inside the classroom!

Below are three of my recommended stories which are still currently available in major bookstores here in the Philippines. For each of these animal stories, I have provided a synopsis (in a nutshell); what I discovered about their potential to teach peace (Peace AHA!); and some questions you may use to explore with your kids some behaviors, attitudes and skills related to building peace.


Story by Virgilio S. Almario;
Illustrations by Joanne de Leon;
Published by Adarna House;
Recommended for children ages 8 and above.

In a nutshell:
“Animals once lived together happily and peacefully in Paradise” until the day that the Parrot arrived and told stories that were not true. This sparked mistrust and created divisions among the animals which later escalated into a fierce battle among animals.

Peace AHA!
The story provided a good contrast of what it is like to live peacefully together and live in conflict with others. Specifically, it would be good to explore the feelings and behaviors of the animals during these different times in their lives:

  • Animals live in harmony when they were still able to share Paradise’s resources with each other as this passage says: “Everyone weak and strong, big and small, shared their food with the rest.”
  • Animals live in harmony when they accept and respect each others’ differences as these passages illustrate: “They were different yet they treated each other with respect. They understood one another even if they spoke and thought in different ways. They accepted one another. They tolerated one another’s likes and dislikes, no matter how odd, as long as no one was harmed.”
  • Animals lived in conflict “when they came to mistrust and think ill of one another” then others became violent while those that got hurt became angry and fearful.
  • Animals were unable to resolve their conflict when they ceased to talk and listen to each other.

Possible questions to ask kids:

  • How would you describe the relationship of the animals when they were still living peacefully together?
  • What broke the relationship among the animals?
  • How could the animals mend their broken relationships?
  • What do you think Elephant could have done to make his interventions to promote peace successful?

(Bas Guava and the OK Group)


Story by Luis P. Gatmaitan, M.D.;
Illustrations by Raketshop Studio;
Published by OMF Literature Inc. for Hiyas
Bi-lingual (English and Tagalog);
Recommended for children ages 7 and above.

In a nutshell:
Animals with disabilities were being ridiculed and ostracized by other animals in the farm of Mang Bayani. Fortunately, they found solace under the shade of Bas, the guava, and found new friends among each other. In spite of their disabilities, they actually helped save the farm from burning down.

Peace AHA!
The story highlighted the importance of seeing people with disabilities as people who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They may be vulnerable but they have other capacities and deserve to be heard, supported, and included. There are many like them in our society and ensuring that their needs are met makes development more inclusive, thus building just peace for all.

The story could be a springboard to explore your kid’s feelings towards people with disabilities or other vulnerable people in general and begin to reinforce positive behavior towards them.

Possible questions to ask kids:

  • What do you think of the Tropang OK?
  • Do you know or have seen anyone with disabilities? How do you feel or think about them?
  • How do you think you can show your support to people with disabilities in a way that they will feel dignified?

(Court of Sinukuan)

IMG_6990Story retold by Virgilio S. Almario;
Illustrated again by Mitzi Villavecer;
Published by Adarna House
Bi-lingual (English and Tagalog);
Recommended for children ages 7-9.

In a nutshell:
This is a story of a vengeful mosquito and how his anger caused trouble among other animals in Mount Arayat. After processing the incident with everyone involved, Maria Sinukuan, the queen of Mount Arayat, punished the mosquito and asked him to pay for the damages he has caused.

Peace AHA!
Although the story is intended for teaching about justice and resolving disputes in the proper venue, it is an interesting story to explore how conflict begins and escalates.

  • Unexamined perception could trigger conflict. Many of the animals involved in the story acted out of fear: Frog was afraid that Turtle’s house would fall on him; Turtle was afraid that Firefly might burn his house; and Firefly was afraid that Mosquito will stab him with his bolo. Their lack of understanding of each other’s nature and misguided assumptions caused them to be scared and suspicious of each other’s motive. There is an apparent lack of communication that could have clarified their assumptions and fear.

    On the other hand, it is important also to note that fear because of threat to security cannot be ignored, whether the threat is real or perceived. To feel safe is an important indicator of peace and a fundamental right! I think teachers and parents can use this to ask kids what they think would make them feel safe or to describe instances when they felt unsafe. This could perhaps lead to a discussion on bullying at school or other forms of threats that children experience. As this  may be  a sensitive discussion, handle this discussion with extra care and check for signs of stress.

    For older school kids, this story has potential as springboard to explore the essence of security beyond physical safety, which is to include other fundamental human rights (or child’s rights) and “access to other opportunities and choices essential to achieving full human potential.”[1] This will provide a broader perspective on what it really means to have peace. Of course these are tough topics to jump into and would require longer time to process so this can be a follow-through activity in a classroom setting.

  • Violence will not resolve conflict. Mosquito was very angry of Talangka, the crab, who tried to snip him with his pincers one day. His anger made him vengeful and careless with his weapon. The story teaches that violence will not resolve conflict and that one needs to practice self-control, to refrain from reacting rashly. The story can also be a springboard to explore with children other non-violent means of resolving conflict such as dialogue.

Possible questions to ask kids:

  • Why was Mosquito punished by Maria Sinukuan?
  • If you were Mosquito, what could you have done to resolve your conflict with Talangka?
  • What can you possibly do to control your frustration/anger so you don’t act rashly or violently?
  • Do you think Frog has a reason to be scared of Turtle? Why?
  • Try relating to the feeling of fear of the animals in the story. Were there instances when you feel unsafe and afraid?

In all of these stories, communication is a key component in resolving conflict in a non-violent way. For students to benefit more from the lessons of these stories, it may be good to add a follow-up activity such as role play where students can use their creativity in simulating dialogue among conflicting parties.

Well, that’s it folks. I hope these recommendations will be helpful and will get you started with raising more conflict-sensitive and peace promoting (CSPP) kids. Let’s work for a peaceful society one story at a time. Happy reading!

 -ems, #iamforpeace

[1][1] Annan, Kofi, 2000. United Nations Millenium Report. (Human Security).


Peace Quote Musing on a Monday

Do you still remember what Dumbledore told Harry Potter when Harry doubted himself for a moment because he has the same abilities as the one whose name shall not be named?

The great Albus Dumbledore said,

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” [1] 

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

I couldn’t agree more, Dumbledore! Choices or the decisions one makes are what defines a hero, the good and the bad. But how do we raise children who would choose integrity, fairness, and generosity so that he or she might be able to help build a just society; choose dialogue, collaboration and other peaceful means of resolving conflict so that there would be no more war; choose to protect this earth so that all may have enough?

I believe, peace education have answers for this. It is a transformative education that is teaching for and about human rights, gender equality, disarmament, social and economic justice, non-violence, sustainable development, international law, and traditional peace practice. [2]

The world is full of violence – not just those that kill but also those that deprive us of our human dignity and capacity to reach our full human potentials. This form of violence called structural violence is embedded in our culture, policies and socio-economic structures.[3] If we don’t act now to nurture the sensitivity of our children to manifestations of violence (i.e. corruption, poverty, gender inequality, man-made environmental degradation; prejudice against minority groups; marginalization of indigenous people; etc.) and teach them the values and skills of peace, then violence might become the norm of the next generation.

Those children from Syria would not have drowned, if their families didn’t have to escape war in their homeland. Citizens of atoll[4] nations, whose country is sinking because of global warming intensified by burning fossil fuels, would not have to face an uncertain future as climate change refugees. Other Muslims in Mindanao should not have been treated with prejudice, just because there are Muslims who wage war with the government. Children from indigenous communities in Surigao del Sur shouldn’t be missing their classes and camping now in depressing evacuation areas because of security threats in their communities. These and so many real life stories of violence – physical or structural, need to end. While considerable efforts must be done today to protect and secure the rights of vulnerable people and address root causes of violence, we also must invest for the future to keep these from happening again.

Peace education could provide a pathway away from cycles of violence by enhancing our children’s abilities for “critical thinking, reflection and participation”[5] and broadening their perspective on peace. This kind of education aims to contribute to building a culture of peace which “consists of values, attitudes and behaviors that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations.”[6]

Building a culture of peace is not just the responsibility of teachers. Anyone can make a contribution. This can be integrated in school curricula, community projects, mass media, homilies, and even bedtime stories. The key is to start with a clear purpose and begin now! While, it may be a long and difficult journey, our efforts, whether big or small, could bear sweet fruits someday.

In parting, I’d like to share a peace quote that I superimposed in this photo of Loboc River that I took one beautiful summer in Bohol, Philippines:


Let us nurture the minds of children for peace. Remember what Dumbledore said, we all have choices. Please say you’ll choose peace.

Have a wonderful week!

-ems, #iamforpeace

[1] Rowling, J. K., 1998. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
[2] Castro, L. and Galace, J., 2008. Peace Education: A Pathway to a Culture of Peace.
[3] Galtung, J., 1960. Violence, Peace and Peace Research.
[4] An atoll is a ring-shaped coral-reef, island or series of islets, enclosing a lagoon. Atoll nations are low-lying countries that are only a few meters above sea level.
[5] Castro, L. and Galace, J., 2010. Peace Education: A Pathway to a Culture of Peace.
[6] United Nations.Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Why ‘Everyday September’?

September is pretty special to me. It’s my birthday month (yay!) and it happens to be the month of peace – an advocacy close to my heart.

Every September, we celebrate the National Peace Consciousness Month here in the Philippines. Various activities are being conducted by the government, international and local NGOs, local government units and communities, the security sectors, the academe and other peace stakeholders to increase awareness on peace and conflict issues and initiatives. This year, the Bangsamoro Peace Process takes center stage in this month-long celebration and the theme called on for unity among Filipinos to ensure peace and continued progress in the country.[1]

On the other hand, September 21, is being observed around the world as the International Day of Peace. It is a special day to acknowledge the contributions of those working for peace as well as to call on all nations to honor this day of non-violence and cease-fire. This year’s theme is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for peace.[2]

In response to this calling and in solidarity with all those whose passion is to pursue peace, I am launching this peace blog. Wiiiii! Through this blog, I’d like to capture the spirit of the peace month, hence, every “blogging day” could be like September – Everyday September! (This is my first really and I’m still studying this platform but I’m already excited to get started so here it is, a work in progress.)

I believe that to achieve lasting peace, we need to build an enabling environment for it to flourish. One of the ways to do this is by educating the young people of today with the values and skills of peace, by cultivating a culture of peace.[3] I’d like to contribute to this big and challenging task by featuring here in Everyday September, amazing parents and teachers who could teach us a thing or two on conflict resolution; local initiatives on peacebuilding; resources for peace education; and other issues of peace and conflict. I hope this will be useful to parents, teachers, peace advocates and anyone who’d like to “give peace a chance.”

Have an amazing September and peace be with you all!


[3] Culture of Peace consists of “values, attitudes and behaviours that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations” (United Nations).

Hello world!

ems picHi everyone! I’m Emily ‘ems’ Lambio. I’m a fan of Filipino children literature and I believe in the power of stories to teach children tolerance, compassion and conflict resolution skills. Please join me in my journey as I explore these topics and feel free to share life hacks and your own experiences and personal insights along these topics. Let’s rock on for peace!