Papa's Backpack

Teaching Tips

Great for four- and five-year-olds around Veterans Day and for military families.

CAUTION: The story has a beautiful, melancholy undertone, which made me apprehensive about the time of day I shared it with a four- and five-year-old class. I wondered if they might get homesick, but after testing it in several classrooms at midday, that didn’t appear to be the case. They seemed understanding and motivated.

Activity Idea

Write a letter and draw a picture for a person they love. A caregiver can help write what they’d like to say in the letter, but after, they can practice writing their name by signing the letter.

Episode #11

Papa’s Backpack

Written and illustrated by James Christopher Carroll

Read with Permission By

Sleeping Bear Press


Fathers and sons, Soldiers, Bears.


3 – 6 years


“Illustrations and rhyming text portray a bear cub who understands that because Papa is a soldier, he sometimes must go, but imagines what it would be like to stay nearby riding in Papa’s backpack.”

Show Notes

Sleeping Bear Press is one of my favorite publishers. Their books embody the timeless modern classic. They address universal topics, while masterfully tugging at the heartstring. Often, their books could be from 2020 or 1920 and they wouldn’t look out of place. 

Quick side rant. During the read aloud, I muddled Mr. Carroll’s marvelous text. Back in 2017, I record all the readings at a studio inside an audio booth. So, weeks later, when we edited the episode together, I was devastated to find that I made a mistake since I knew I couldn’t afford to go back and redo the line. The line was: “He’d kiss my face and hair.” Dyslexic me read it, “He’d kiss my face and eyes.” What the—eyes?? So, I felt bad and wanted to mention it, but hopefully, during your read aloud, you’ll remember to get it right.

Full Episode

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