: : Inside: 5+ books about the Navajo Code Talkers for kids! : :
Did you know that the Navajo code talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945? During WWII, there was a great need for an unbreakable code. Philip Johnston, the son missionary to the Navajo who was reared on the Navajo reservation and was one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language, came up with the idea for the Navajo Code Talker program. He read a news article about Native American soldiers who delivered messages during Army training exercises in their native tongue, and he approached the military with his idea.
The rest as they say, is history! If you are looking to learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers, keep reading for 9 books for kids! They include picture books for younger readers, chapter books for intermediate readers, as well as a couple of books for advanced and adult readers.
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Descriptions come from Amazon; some are edited for length
Children’s Books about the Navajo Code Talkers
“As a young Navajo boy, Chester Nez had to leave the reservation and attend boarding school, where he was taught that his native language and culture were useless. But Chester refused to give up his heritage. Years later, during World War II, Chester (and other Navajo men like him) was recruited by the US Marines to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code. Suddenly the language he had been told to forget was needed to fight a war. This powerful picture book biography contains a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.”
“John’s mother is getting married and he has to leave the reservation. John’s grandfather tells him he has the special unbreakable code to take with him. This story portrays the quiet pride of a Navajo code talker as he explains to his grandson how the Navajo language, faith and ingenuity helped win World War II.”
“During World War II U.S. forces had to keep battle plans and other top secret information out of the enemy’s hands. Coded messages were often used, but secret codes could be broken. To solve this problem, the U.S. military turned to an unexpected source to create an unbreakable code. The Navajo people spoke a complex language that few outsiders knew how to speak. Several Navajo soldiers were recruited to develop a code based on the Navajo language. The result was a complex code that could not be solved by the enemy. Learn all about the brave Navajo Code Talkers and how their unbreakable code helped defeat the enemy and win the war.”
“The American offensive in the Pacific during World War II was hampered by the Japanese ability to crack the most secret U.S. Codes. Navajo was virtually unknown outside the reservations, and their code proved uncrackable. Kenji Kawano’s striking photographs capture the quiet dignity of the surviving veterans as they recall their actions.”
“Amidst a complicated history of mistreatment by and distrust of the American government, the Navajo people, especially bilingual code talkers, helped the Allies win World War II.”
Chapter Books, YA, Adult Memior
“By the time the United States joined the Second World War in 1941, the fight against Nazi and Axis powers had already been under way for two years. In order to win the war and protect its soldiers, the US Marines recruited twenty-nine Navajo men to create a secret code that could be used to send military messages quickly and safely across battlefields. Author James Buckley Jr. explains how these brave and intelligent men developed their amazing code, recounts some of their riskiest missions, and discusses how the country treated them before, during, and after the war.”
“On the Pacific front during World War II, strange messages were picked up by American and Japanese forces on land and at sea. The messages were totally unintelligible to everyone except a small select group within the Marine Corps: the Navajo code talkers, a group of Navajos communicating in a code based on the Navajo language. This code, the first unbreakable one in U.S. history, was a key reason that the Allies were able to win in the Pacific.”
“Throughout World War II, in the conflict fought against Japan, Navajo code talkers were a crucial part of the U.S. effort, sending messages back and forth in an unbreakable code that used their native language. They braved some of the heaviest fighting of the war, and with their code, they saved countless American lives. Yet their story remained classified for more than twenty years. But now Joseph Bruchac brings their stories to life for young adults through the riveting fictional tale of Ned Begay, a sixteen-year-old Navajo boy who becomes a code talker. His grueling journey is eye-opening and inspiring. This deeply affecting novel honors all of those young men, like Ned, who dared to serve, and it honors the culture and language of the Navajo Indians.”
“His name wasn’t Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn’t stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength (both physical and mental) to excel as a marine. During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.”
Major Howard Conner, the signal officer of the Navajos at Iwo Jima in 1945, said, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.” We owe a debt of gratitude to these great men and I hope these book list does them justice. Thanks for reading!