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Conflict isn’t an easy thing for most of us to understand. That’s why author Niki Walker wrote Why Do We Fight? Conflict, War and Peace, a book for kids which explains conflict, why it happens, and the ways we can resolve it.

Walker’s book definitely has a thing or two to teach us adults, too. “When I started the book, my editor would joke with me that I am pretty much a cynic, and how could I write this book and not turn the next generation of kids who read it into cynics like me?” Walker told me by phone. “By the time I finished researching the book and writing it, my attitude changed a lot. I am actually a lot more optimistic now.”

What changed? Finding out how many people are working towards peace, against the odds. “In places likes the Middle East, there are groups that just refuse to give up,” Walker said. “They look for middle ground and how to bring about a peaceful resolution by trying to understand each other. It’s not something we tend to hear a lot about. We hear about conflict especially on the news as a violent, ugly thing. But it can be a chance for change and to work things out.”

The peaceful side of conflict is a theme Walker explores widely in her book. She challenges the notion that war and violence are innate parts of human existence, demonstrating that people have been working towards peace for as long as they’ve been waging war. She includes information on the Seville Statement, which states it is “scientifically incorrect to say that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors.” Her book is objective but once presented with the facts, readers may find their assumptions about conflict and violence challenged.

“There are a lot of kids whose parents are involved in conflicts or fighting, and I didn’t want the book to be anti-war,” Walker said. “War is one way of resolving conflict but there are other ways to resolve it as well.”

Walker doesn’t shy away from tough subjects. She explains why certain countries ‘blessed’ with natural resources such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo are the sites of some of the world’s worst conflicts. She discusses propaganda, sanctions and even throws in a brief history of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Best of all, Walker discusses these complex topics in clear-to-read, accessible language without dumbing anything down for her audience.

Kids are incredibly intelligent and perceptive,” Walker said. “I believe they can handle a lot more kinds of information than we give them credit for. It’s just a matter of unpacking the ideas and breaking them down into accessible, manageable points of entry.” I told you adults had a thing or two to learn from this book.

Why Do We Fight? Conflict, War and Peace
by Niki Walker (Owl Kids)

In Toronto, you can find Why Do We Fight? at independent booksellers including Book City.

Meri Perra is an associate editor at Bunch. 

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