Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unbreakable Code” as Want to Read:
The Unbreakable Code
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unbreakable Code

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  45 reviews
This book 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.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by Cooper Square Pub (first published April 25th 1996)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  162 ratings  ·  45 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a wonderful tale that explains the legacy of the Navajo Code Talkers, but in a way that is conversational and easy to understand for children. The story is told as part of a conversation between and grandfather (who was a code talker) and his grandson. While the back story is not entirely necessary, it helps to frame the reason for the conversation and it works well.

I really appreciated the author's note at the beginning of the book that helped to explain more of the finer details of th
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture
Nicely illustrated picture book for older readers about the fascinating Navajo code talkers.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
An important story told by a grandfather to his grandson of his quiet pride to serve as a Navajo code-talker during WWII. A nice introduction to the Navajo's dedication to country and significant contribution to the war effort.
John doesn't want to move to Minnesota with his mom and new step dad. His grandfather tells him about how he had to go to a government boarding school and wasn't allowed to speak his Navajo language. He had chewed a lot of soap in those days. Grandfather continues to tell how he ran away and joined the Marines as a Navajo codetalker. "... 'All those years they told us to forget Navajo, and now the government needs it to save the country!'

A note from the author includes information about the code
Andrea Riffle
I really liked this book! It focuses on John, a young boy whose mother is getting married. Not only that, but this means she's leaving the reservation, which means John has to leave too. John's grandfather tells him on an unbreakable code their people have, meaning the Navajo code used during World War II. His grandfather explains how this code helped the Allies win the war. The images are beautiful and the language used in the story is informative and intriguing. This book also explores finding ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A friend recommended this book. She is from the Navajo Nation and her grandfather was a code talker and she said this was a well done book. I agree, it was a great history lesson and life lesson. I especially liked the list of code words included at the end of the book.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More of an upper elementary book than younger.
Megan Bode
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing story!
Shea Lavalier
Interest Level: Lower Grades
Reading Level: 4.2
Guided Reading Level: S
Genre: Historical Fiction
Support for the genre: The book uses real events from history to create a fictional narrative.
Additional Genres: Picture Books

John fears his move to Minnesota to live with his mother’s new husband. When he runs away to hide, his grandfather finds and comforts him by telling the story of when he first left home and joined the military. His grandfather tells him about the gift that John has as a N
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Beautiful story. I learned a piece of WWII history about the Navajo code talkers that was novel to me and that I can now pass on to my students and children. The Navajo children should have great pride in the way their ancestors were able to serve our country when no one else could as their language was not written.
Amanda Catalina
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Th Unbreakable code is a captivating story of the unbreakable code of the Navajo language during World War II. In this story a young boy listens to his grandfather's story of how he became apart of the war because they needed boys who could speak Navajo. This remained the only code that the Japanese could not decode. This story is great for children because it shows a side of America that is rarely discusses. It also shows how America's multicultural has been beneficial to the nation. This art d ...more
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-books
I might go with 3.5 stars on this one, but opted for the higher 4-star rating.

I enjoyed the history of the code talkers from World War II at a simplified level presented for kids, but the book was very wordy (especially for a picture book) and didn't keep the attention of my 1st grade boy very well. The setting the story is told in by a grandfather to his grandson, who is moving away from the reservation. To me, the connection the author attempte to make between that situation and the code talke
I quite liked the story of the codetalkers that this relates, and the author prefaces the book by discussing how she interviewed actual code talkers before she wrote the book. I didn't really like the framing story about the boy who was leaving his grandfather to move out of the reservation and needed to hear this story to gain confidence. I thought that it detracted from the overall story, and that it sent a conflicting message about the importance of heritage and the importance of land and fam ...more
Jun 04, 2014 added it
I picked this up at a book sale recently and read it aloud to my kids today. It's the first time they've seen me cry while reading a children's book. The Navajos fought to save and protect a country that was unjust to them. Facing that kind of goodness brings the tears. I don't think the kids will be able to forget this story after seeing how their mom reacted.

Beautifully illustrated and reads aloud well. The realities of war are described, so it's not a easy light book, but definitely worthwhi
Beth Schencker
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
When John is forced to move off the reservation because his mother have remarried a man not from the Navajo tribe. Grandfather tells the young boy not to be afraid - he has an "unbreakable code". The code he refers to is the Najavo language. The US military used Navajo-speaking soldiers to help win the war. Nearly 420 "code talkers" served in the Marine Corps and helped save many American lives during WWII.
Susan Tuttle
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
What I liked so much about this book was how hypocrisy is brought to light. The government schools banned the Navajo children from speaking their native language and then the government used their language to help send military code during WWII. This story shows that all cultures have value and reminds us to celebrate our differences rather than try to make all people fit one mold. This is a story that all children should hear and ponder.
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidslit-645
Illustrated by Julia Miner. I thought that this was an excellent book. It was accessible enough for young children to understand, but also interesting enough for older kids to like as well. The code-talking was explained in an easy-to-understand manner and the story was quite interesting. The illustrations were very impressive as well.
Mary Ann
May 12, 2012 rated it liked it
There are few children's stories about the Navajo Code Talkers, and this story provides good background on the American Indian men who helped the war effort in WWII. The author is not an American Indian, nor is the illustrator, and sometimes, that lack of background is apparent. Nonetheless, a book acknowledging the American Indian's contributions is necessary, and this fulfills that role.
Anja Manning
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This a story worth telling. I had not previously heard that the Navajo language was used for military message code during World War II. The story is told well, and the illustrations by Julia Miner complement the content. I particularly liked the layout of text and images in this book.

At the back of the book is a sample of code terms, in English, Navajo, and the meaning of the Navajo word.
Lauren Briggs
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: january
This book was very interesting thought out. In some cases I can relate to the young boy in this story. I think it is important to remind ourselves of our family heritage. I like how I was able to learn more about WWII in this book. The pictures were amazing and I was able to better understand what the book was explaining.
Ashley Lewis
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: january
This book was both fun and interesting to read. The information given about Navajos in World War 2 was something I hadn't ever heard about before. I felt like I was really learning about both the Navajo culture and their contributions to World War 2. The genuine characters made it heart-felt. I really enjoyed this picture book.
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing

-Navajo Code talkers, WWII
-minimal reference to Navajo culture, outside of early life of grandfather
-interesting story, but maybe not great for introducing children to the culture. Would be good for after they have already learned a little about it.

Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. My only warnings are the statements about the creek turning red from blood, and stepping over fallen soldiers. These were on the same page and a very small part of the book. Not bad seeing as the topic is about a war.
Bonnie Helbach
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This will be a great book to present to students at the jr. high level to give an overview of the code talkers. I plan on using it to read to students and then brain storm on research topics. I really liked the story and it gave a fast easy read but with a lot of information.
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a great story story about the Navajo code breakers from WW II. This is a truely educational book for young children. With the added benefit of the "code" in back for those interested in learning and breaking the code.
Lizzy Lan
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A young boy's grandfather tells him an amazing story of how many people of the Navajo culture were essential to helping the army during WWII. They sent messages from base to base using codes within their native language that the enemies were not able to intercept.
Jan 05, 2013 added it
Shelves: withers
story of Navajo Code talkers in WWII. Pronunciation guide in the back.
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: withers
story of Navajo Code talkers in WWII. Pronunciation guide in the back.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Very informative book about a different perspective in World War II. I definitely learned something new.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
The parts describing the grandfather's experiences are really good, but the story with the grandson is weak and awkward. "You have an unbreakable code". Feels forced.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • So Far from the Sea
  • Uncle Bobby's Wedding
  • Awful Ogre's Awful Day
  • Crossing Bok Chitto
  • Orani: My Father's Village
  • Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella
  • Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
  • Tea with Milk
  • Baseball Saved Us
  • A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems
  • The Cats In Krasinski Square
  • America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell
  • Shi-shi-etko
  • Thirty Minutes Over Oregon: A Japanese Pilot's World War II Story
  • Here Comes Mother Goose
  • The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial
  • Measuring Penny
  • The Secret Project
See similar books…