The concepts of national relations, global relations, international relations, intergalactic relations etc. are imperative to discuss with children at a young age. These two books are excellent introductions to the topics of nation/state and global/galactic relations. They each touch on topics of colonialism, war, peace, national identity and race relations.
The Butter Battle Book / By Dr. Seuss
A Cold War parody about two neighboring nations who live on opposite sides of a great wall. The people of the two nations eat their bread differently, one with the butter side up and one with the butter side down. To attempt to change the people on the other side of the wall, each nation builds up their weapons in an attempt to be the best and force the other side to change the way they eat bread. The end of the story does not give a conclusive answer, leaving a very important open-ended conversation about how the reader views what will happen to the future…
“This machine was so modern, so frightfully new, no one knew quite exactly just what it would do!”
The Three Astronauts / By Umberto Eco & Eugenio Carmia
Yes, this is a children’s book by the popular adult author Umberto Eco! This book, in many ways, is considered a peaceful take on an International Space Race. Three countries, America, China and Russia each send astronauts into space hoping they will be the first one to colonize Mars. The book begins with each astronaut being skeptical and/or critical with the other nation’s astronauts, but when they all land on Mars their differences begin disappear in light of the things they find. In fact, they unite together when they find the land of Mars is already inhabited by a beautiful Martian who they think wants to war against them. The story is a very illuminating look at the process of colonization, but ends in an unusual way, when the united Earthlings realize that the Martian, too, isn’t as different as they first assumed….
“He was so different from them, they weren’t able to understand him or love him. All three immediately felt like fighting him. Now that they were faced with this monster, their little differences vanished. What did it matter if they spoke different languages? They realized that all three of them were human beings. But this other one wasn’t.”