A growing number of military-connected authors are out there telling great stories, tackling tough topics or doing both, and offering fresh perspectives on the military life through their writing. Books are my go-to gifts all year long, and I especially appreciate books that are born of military experience and reflect the ways it is changing. Now that it’s time to begin Christmas shopping – or maybe finish it up, for the over-achievers among us – here are a few gift ideas for the military-connected readers on any Christmas list:

“The Islanders: Search for Treasure,” by Mary Alice Monroe and Angela May. This chapter book for middle-grade readers is about Jake, the son of an Army dad and Air Force mom and the friends he meets while visiting his grandmother on Dewees Island, S.C. “Search for Treasure” is a sequel to the NYT bestseller “The Islanders,” and continues the nature-loving adventures of Jake and company. This Christmas is a good time to give both of these books, so young readers can get caught up and ready for the third book in this series, “The Islanders: Shipwrecked,” due out in next summer.

“Military Culture Shift: The Impact of War, Money, and Generational Perspective on Morale, Retention, and Leadership,” by Corie Weathers. Here’s the ideal gift for anyone who leads or aspires to lead in the military community. That includes active-duty members, family support organizations, spouse groups, educators, contractors – anyone whose influence touches the military community. Weathers, a licensed counselor and leadership consultant, as well as military spouse, helps her readers understand how military culture has been shifted by world events, past leadership decisions, and generational differences, and offers leadership strategies for clear communication and positive change.

“The Waiting World,” by Andria Williams. This is a second novel from an author skilled at creating historical fiction imbued with the immediacy of contemporary fiction. Set in 1929, this story of three friends – two Irish-immigrant women and a Black war veteran – and the discovery of an unusual treasure, has a backdrop of economic and social issues that still resonate today. As with her debut novel, “The Longest Night,” set in the 1960s, Williams’ experience in military life shows through in the military-connected characters she creates. This book is for anyone who enjoys literary fiction, historic fiction, and a well-crafted story.

“Sweet Dreams, Air Force,” by Taryn Coakley. A bedtime story written by an Air Force wife for her own son, this picture book teaches children about the important roles and missions of Air Force units. With rhyming text and bright illustrations, it shows how successful missions of all kinds require teamwork.

“The Memory Keepers,” by Sarah Allison. Sometimes the gift of a story is to provide a way to help young children understand difficult topics. Teacher, author, and Marine spouse Sarah Allison has written that kind of story in her picture book, “The Memory Keepers.” The book is about two girls, each with a grandparent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In the course of the narrative, the girls learn how to talk about their experiences and become keepers of memories for their loved ones. A thoughtful gift for anyone with aging relatives facing dementia-related diagnoses.

“Milspouse Matters: Sharing Strength through our Stories,” by Jen McDonald. Multi-generational stories from military spouse stories are at the heart of this book, told alongside the author’s own story of her three decades as a military spouse. While squarely facing the challenges of military life, McDonald has created an uplifting narrative that highlights adventures of military life and the tenacity of military spouses and families across generations. This encouraging and informative book is for those living military life today or for anyone who wants an inside look at the experiences that forge strong military families.

Terri Barnes is a book lover, book editor and author of “Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life,” based on her long-running column in Stars and Stripes. Find her online at

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now