Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to disasters. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about disasters.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
When it comes to children’s stories about disasters, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Big Frank’s Fire Truck to popular sellers like Earthquake in the Early Morning to some of our favorite hidden gems like Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey.
We hope this list of kids books about disasters can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!
The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboatof its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. In this inspiring true story, Maira Kalman brings a New York City icon to life and proves that old heroes never die.
The adventure continues in the third installment of the action-packed Scout series, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Li Shotz. Scout, a National Guard dog, was born to be a hero. When Scout and his 12-year-old owner, Matt, land in Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane, they want to help. The pair befriend Luisa, who knows all about the Sato dogs—abandoned pups who need food and shelter. Scout and Matt decide to foster an injured dog named Pepita. But Pepita is clearly searching for something and runs off into the rainforest. Now it’s up to Scout, Matt and Luisa to find the missing dog and bring her back safely. Surviving the dangers of the wilderness will be far from easy, but Scout and Matt make an excellent team. This fast-moving tale of Scout the hero dog will grab even reluctant readers and is perfect for fans of Cracker!, Max, and Hero.
A 2001 Children’s Literature Choice Every day, brave firefighters come to our rescue. When the fire alarm sounds, men and women put on their uniforms, slide down the firehouse pole, jump in their big red trucks, and rush to save our lives. From the minute the fire alarm rings, the day of a firefighter is filled with adventure – and danger. Wherever there is a fire, we can be sure that firefighters will always be there!
On the farm where Otis the tractor lives, it hasn’t rained in a long time and farmers all over the valley have grown anxious with water in such short supply. One hot afternoon, when Otis and his friends are resting beneath the shade of the apple tree, Otis spots something moving down in the valley—an orange tabby cat headed straight for the old barn. But then Otis sees something else that causes his engine to sputter . . . a swirl of smoke coming from the same barn. A fire!
As Otis races toward the fire with his friends in tow, he spots the tabby cat mewing in alarm. Otis rushes inside to discover the source of the cat’s worries–her little kittens are perched up on the hayloft, scared. Otis never hesitates. Yet even after he delivers a tractor full of kittens safely outside, their mama remains upset. Re-entering the burning barn, Otis discovers why: one tiny kitten, still too scared to move. With a friendly chuff, Otis coaxes her down and she scampers out the door. That’s when the floor collapses with a CRASH, trapping the tractor. Now Otis, the friend everyone can count on, must count on his friends.
Told with a sense of play and devotion, this is a heartwarming tale that reminds readers that sometimes even those who we count on to help us need a little help themselves. From the creator of Otis, Otis and the Puppy, and the illustrator of The Little Engine That Could and Of Thee I Sing by President Barack Obama.
Do you have what it takes to be a firefighter? From attending the Firefighter Academy to training with a team, there are many things you have to accomplish before becoming a firefighter! Learn the tools firefighters use, the kinds of trucks firefighters drive, and the dangerous situations they find themselves in as they put their lives on the line to help others in this charming picture book from the author of Pop: The Invention of Bubble Gum.
Titan and the Wild Boars - Don’t miss the breathtaking true story of the international rescue of the Wild Boars soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand! One afternoon, eleven-year-old Titan, his friends from the Wild Boars soccer team, and their coach rode their bikes to explore local caves. They crawled through the narrow tunnels in the dark to reach the center of the cave. When they turned to go home, heavy rains had flooded the tunnel. They were trapped! With rising waters and monsoon season upon them, time and oxygen were running out. The world watched with bated breath as rescuers from around the globe joined forces to try to free the boys. After eighteen harrowing days, in an unprecedented effort of international teamwork, they were finally saved. Award-winning author Susan Hood and journalist Pathana Sornhiran based this picture book on Sornhiran’s first-hand reporting of the event, and Dow Phumiruk’s beautiful illustrations bring the story to life. The book also includes a timeline and back matter with additional resources.
We Will Live in This Forest Again - When a thriving forest is swallowed by wildfire the animals brace themselves, then look to new beginnings.
Tomie Depaola's The Quicksand Book - Funny and informative–and on a really cool topic. This is TOMIE DEPAOLA nonfiction at its best. A match of humor and information in which Jungle Girl lands in the quicksand and Jungle Boy offers advice and information about quicksand, rather than rescue her. This being DEPAOLA, the tables are turned until Jungle Boy has to take his own practical advice about quicksand while Jungle Girl gets her revenge.
The Mess That We Made - The Mess That We Made explores the environmental impact of trash and plastic on the ocean and marine life, and it inspires kids to do their part to combat pollution. Simple, rhythmic wording builds to a crescendo (“This is the mess that we made. These are the fish that swim in the mess that we made.”) and the vibrant digital artwork captures the disaster that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Children can imagine themselves as one of the four multi-ethnic occupants of the little boat surrounded by swirling plastic in the middle of the ocean, witnessing the cycle of destruction and the harm it causes to plants, animals, and humans. The first half of the book portrays the growing magnitude of the issue, and the second half rallies children and adults to make the necessary changes to save our oceans, before it is too late. Facts about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, ocean pollution, and how kids can help are included in the back matter.
Young readers are introduced to the daily work of firefighters and fire safety as Big Frank and the rest of his crew race to the scene of an accident, inspect a local store, work at the firehouse, and fight a brush fire. Original.
Edward and his cousin Judy come for a visit to the firehouse and learn how everything works with some unexpected results.
A fast-paced adventure series featuring the Jungle Girl herself! The stories are inspired and co-created by Bindi Irwin, daughter of the iconic wildlife expert Steve Irwin. The series features the characters of Bindi, her brother Robert, mother Terri, and the Australia Zoo.
Bindi takes a pair of troublesome twins on a thrilling whale-watching trip. It’s going great until one of the twins spots a bright flare in the sky. They race to the scene and find a crashed boat!
Can Bindi help stop the boat from spilling oil and save the nearby sea creatures from danger?
Luis is an alley cat who has everything figured out . . . until he meets Tabitha, a beautiful indoor cat. Separated by a tragic glass door, Luis will do anything to be with Tabitha–even brave the dangers of a fire. With adorable illustrations and undeniable style, Luis and Tabitha is the story of two star-crossed kitties who prove that true love conquers all.
You may have seen the cute pictures of penguins wearing sweaters—but did you know why they were wearing them? Debut author Marikka Tamura answers this question in this colorful, kid-friendly book that is told simply and charmingly. Penguins love the sea. Happy in the dark blue water. But what is this? One day something is floating in the water. Dark. Gooey. Oily . . . When the penguins become coated in an oil spill, many Big Boots arrive. The humans want to help the cold, greasy penguins, so they knit sweaters to keep them warm. The Big Boots mean well, but . . . penguins don’t wear sweaters! So after a good, soapy scrub, the penguins dive back into the deep blue sea, happily dressed only in their own penguin feathers.
I'm Brave! - For fans of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train comes the perfect noisy addition to this hilarious read-aloud series from the popular creators of I Stink!, and I’m Dirty!—now a streaming animated series! I’m Brave! is the most irresistible addition yet to Kate and Jim McMullan’s hilarious read-aloud series: a fire truck. He’s a big red engine With a siren, A horn, A tank full of water, And a whole lotta hose! He’s a good-lookin’ fire truck, And he’s brave, too. When the alarm sounds Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooooooo He’s gotta drive through Smoke and heat Straight to a blazing fire! Honk! Honk!
No Dragons for Tea - While out for a walk with her mom, a little girl meets a teddy bear-toting, fire-breathing dragon whom she invites home for tea, but when he sneezes at the table, they must then escape the fiery domicile.
Pete the Cat: Firefighter Pete - When the fire alarm goes off, it’s Pete the Cat to the rescue! This fun 8x8 storybook includes over 30 groovy stickers. In Pete the Cat: Firefighter Pete from New York Times bestselling author and artist James Dean, Pete and his classmates are excited about their field trip to the firehouse. They get to slide down the pole, meet all the brave firefighters, and even try on their helmets and gear. But when the alarm goes off, it’s time for Pete to jump on the fire truck, grab the hose, and help the firefighters save the day!
The Unbreakable Code (The Book Scavenger series) - Could books hidden through the Book Scavenger game be linked to an arsonist’s web of destruction? Find out in the New York Times-bestselling second book in the action packed Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.
With more than 12 million books sold, My Weird School really gets kids reading!
In this fourth book in the laugh-out-loud My Weirdest School series, the students of Ella Mentry School are learning about fire safety. Mrs. Meyer of the local fire department has been brought in to teach the students, but she is the weirdest safety expert in the world. She likes fire just a little too much. Will Mrs. Meyer catch on fire? Will she retire? What will transpire?
Perfect for reluctant readers and word lovers alike, Dan Gutman’s hugely popular My Weird School series has something for everyone. Don’t miss the hilarious adventures of A.J. and the gang!
Twelve-year-old Poppy is an orphan living in a bad neighborhood in Chicago, pick pocketing so that she has a place to sleep at night. Justin’s world couldn’t be more different—his father owns a jewelry store—but when he and Poppy meet, they become fast friends, thanks in part to Justin’s sweet pet goat. Through their friendship, Poppy realizes that she doesn’t want to be a thief anymore and she begins to feel like she may have a place with Justin’s family. But when Justin makes an expensive mistake at his father’s store, Poppy is immediately blamed. In response, she flees . . . right into the Great Chicago Fire. Poppy and Justin must rely on their instincts if they are going to survive the catastrophe. Will anything be left when the fire finally burns out?
When the tsunami destroyed Makio’s village, Makio lost his father…and his voice. The entire village is silenced by grief, and the young child’s anger at the ocean grows. Then one day his neighbor, Mr. Hirota, begins a mysterious project—building a phone booth in his garden. At first Makio is puzzled; the phone isn’t connected to anything. It just sits there, unable to ring. But as more and more villagers are drawn to the phone booth, its purpose becomes clear to Makio: the disconnected phone is connecting people to their lost loved ones. Makio calls to the sea to return what it has taken from him and ultimately finds his voice and solace in a phone that carries words on the wind.
Inspired by the true story of the wind phone in Otsuchi, Japan, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
On the News gently introduces young children to the realities of natural disasters, terrorism and other forms of tragedy. In age-appropriate language and tone, Dr. Roberts explains what tragedy is, the feelings it may create and how to manage those feelings. She also emphasizes the good that can come out of tragedy, looking at how people help one another in caring, compassionate and heroic ways. The book’s question-and-answer format will help parents have a meaningful conversation about these difficult topics with their children and equip them to better handle questions that arise when children are exposed to the news. The World Around Us series introduces children to complex cultural, social and environmental issues they may encounter outside the comfort of their homes, in a way that is straightforward and accessible.
One afternoon, Jonathan Harker Weeks didn’t feel like practicing the piano. So his grandfather decided to tell him a story to show how much of an impact music can have. When he was a child growing up poor in Ireland, his mother made sure he learned to play the fiddle, despite their challenges. After his mother passed away and he was on his own, Jonathan’s grandfather fell asleep hiding in a mail sack and was taken to a ship. When he woke up, he realized he was on the Titanic on its maiden voyage, and it was there that he met Wallace Hartley and Mrs. Weeks, a kind man and woman who took him in. Then one night, the majestic ship hit an iceberg. He and Mrs. Weeks were put on a lifeboat—and Mr. Hartley and his band bravely continued to play to calm the crew and passengers. The story of Wallace Hartley is true and he is known throughout the world as a hero. The New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of The Keeping Quilt Patricia Polacco offers this stunning and heartbreaking picture book to celebrate the memory and bravery of a single man who used the power of music to comfort thousands of people during a catastrophic situation.
The Power Down Mystery - A bad storm hits Greenfield and leaves behind a mystery! With no power or internet, the Boxcar Children will need to put the pieces together the old-fashioned way. It’s been a while since the children have powered down. Can they figure out what’s going on while being unplugged?
Little Cloud: The Science of a Hurricane - This STEM-based picture book follows the origin of a hurricane, from a little cloud to a life-threatening storm. Follow our little cloud on an adventure through the sky and learn the science behind how it transforms from a simple cumulus cloud to a full-blown hurricane. Beautifully detailed illustrations from award-winning artist Julie McLaughlin integrate science with storytelling. Children will enjoy finding new gems of information even after several reads, thanks to a whimsical and rich layout. And meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe weaves a comprehensive narrative about a powerful weather system that’s so compelling readers won’t even realize they are on their way to becoming budding meteorologists.
Mike's Mystery (the Boxcar Children: Time to Read, Level 2) - When the Aldens visit Aunt Jane, Benny’s friend Mike discovers a new mystery! Adapted from Gertrude Chandler Warner’s story of the same name, this early reader allows children to start reading with a Boxcar Children classic.
Hurricanes! (New Edition) - Imagine a force that can toss boats around like toys, wash away bridges, create waves as high as eighteen feet, and change the shape of a shoreline. With fierce winds and torrential rains, hurricanes can do all of these things. In this newly revised edition, GAIL GIBBONS introduces readers to the concepts of hurricane formation, classification, weather preparedness, and the ever-evolving technology that helps us try to predict the behavior of these powerful storms. Extensive updates include refined definitions for hurricane-related vocabulary, updated information about the wind speeds that define hurricane categories, information on emergency preparedness, and more. As these weather disturbances become more frequent and more powerful, Hurricanes is the perfect introduction for children to this important and timely topic.
A history of 10 well-known disasters–from the great Chicago fire to Hurricane Katrina–explores the causes and effects of the devastation as well as with the power of humankind to persevere in the face of adversity.
An adventure that will shake you up! That’s what Jack and Annie get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to California in 1906. As soon as they arrive, the famous San Francisco earthquake hits the city. Can Jack and Annie save the day? Or will San Francisco be destroyed first?
A family retells the story of the shillelagh that was whittled from a tree. During the Irish potato famine, Fergus and his family left for America. But first Fergus cut a branch from a blackthorn tree to take a piece of Ireland with him.
It is the autumn of 1846 in Ireland. Lorraine and her brother are waiting for the time to pick the potato crop on their family farm leased from an English landowner. But this year is different—the spuds are mushy and ruined. What will Lorraine and her family do?
Then Lorraine meets Miss Susannah, the daughter of the wealthy English landowner who owns Lorraine’s family’s farm, and the girls form an unlikely friendship that they must keep a secret from everyone. Two different cultures come together in a deserted Irish meadow. And Lorraine has one question: how can she help her family survive?
A little known part of history, the Irish potato famine altered history forever and caused a great immigration in the later part of the 1800s. Lorraine’s story is a heartbreaking and ultimately redemptive story of one girl’s strength and resolve to save herself and her family against all odds.
Erin and Tiffany are snowbound, with only one thought - survival! For fans of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, a story of two girls who must rely on their wits to stay alive when they become trapped in the snow. When Erin goes looking for her babysitter, who has disappeared, she persuades Tiffany, her new science partner, to do a project on animal tracks, figuring the project will give her an excuse to search the woods for Amy. While the two girls are in the woods, a sudden spring blizzard strikes–and they know no one will start to look for them for the next three days. A page-turning adventure of wilderness survival
Sinking the Sultana - The worst maritime disaster in American history wasn’t the Titanic. It was the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River–and it could have been prevented.
Big Top Burning - The fire broke out at 2:40 p.m. Thousands of men, women, and children were crowded under Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s big top watching the Flying Wallendas begin their death-defying high-wire act. Suddenly someone screamed “Fire!” and the panic began. By 2:50 the tent had burned to the ground. Not everyone had made it out alive. With primary source documents and survivor interviews, Big Top Burning recounts the true story of the 1944 Hartford circus fire–one of the worst fire disasters in US history. Its remarkable characters include: Robert Segee, the fifteen-year-old circus roustabout and known pyromaniac; and the Cook children, Donald, Eleanor, and Edward, who were in the audience when the circus tent caught fire. Guiding readers through the investigations of the mysteries that make this moment in history so fascinating, this book asks: Was the unidentified body of a little girl nicknamed “Little Miss 1565” Eleanor Cook? Was the fire itself an act of arson–and did Robert Segee set it? Big Top Burning combines a gripping disaster story, an ongoing detective and forensics saga, and World War II-era American history, inviting middle-grade readers to take part in a critical evaluation of the evidence and draw their own conclusions.
Chasing Helicity - Helicity is well aware that her name is unusual - kind of like Helicity herself. The word Helicity means to spin, and for as long as she can remember, Helicity has been fascinated by the weather. The weather is Helicity’s escape from her own reality - may that be school, her father’s strict discipline, or her brother’s imminent departure for college where he’s all set to play football. One fateful day, Helicity and her horse head out on a long ride to take a break from life at home. Even with her vast experience with weather, Helicity is unprepared for the elements she faces. The choices Helicity makes before, during, and after that storm will have a lasting effect on her family and her future.
Miss Mingo and the Fire Drill - All of the animals in the class face their fear of danger and practice wholeheartedly what their teacher Miss Mingo and the fire fighter Chief Grizzly teach them to do in a fire drill with excellent results. Includes a brief description of the defense mechanisms that animals use to protect themselves from danger.
The incredible true story of the twelve boys trapped with their coach in a flooded cave in Thailand and their inspiring rescue.
On June 23, 2018, twelve members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach were exploring the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand when disaster struck. A rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them as they took shelter on a shelf of the dark cave. Eight days of searching yielded no signs of life, but on July 2 they were discovered by two British divers. The boys and their coach were eventually rescued in an international operation that took three days. What could have been a terrible tragedy became an amazing story of survival.
Award-winning author Marc Aronson brings us the backstory behind how this astounding rescue took place. Rising Water highlights the creative thinking and technology that made a successful mission possible by examining the physical, environmental, and psychological factors surrounding the rescue. From the brave Thai Navy SEAL who lost his life while placing oxygen tanks along the passageways of the cave, to the British divers that ultimately swam the boys to safety, to the bravery of the boys and their coach, this is the breathtaking rescue that captivated the entire world.
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