My daughter and I have been closely following all the hurricane happenings lately. And, based on her questions and fears, I quickly realized that there needed to be more discussion on disasters, why they happen, and how we can help others when weather or other disasters strike.
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One of the best ways to help kids understand what's going on in the world is with a good book. Not only is it easy, but books help spark discussion. And, don't just focus on the disaster. Be sure to grab some books on fears, helplessness, coping, and also books on helping others.
Children's Books About Disasters
Extreme Weather: Surviving Tornadoes, Sandstorms, Hailstorms, Blizzards, Hurricanes, and More! covers different natural disasters as well as what to do do before, during, and after, which may give kids some preparedness peace of mind.
Suggested Age Range: 8-12 years
Flood is described as "a beautiful wordless picture book about the effects of a flood on a family and their home."
Suggested Age Range: All ages (picture book)
National Geographic Readers: Storms! covers the scariness of storms, but breaks down what actually happens when Mother Nature hits hard.
Suggested Age Range: 4-6 years
Extreme Weather Systems talks about different weather systems, as well as helps kids understand how to dress and plan for different weather.
Suggested Age Range: 8-9 years
National Geographic Kids Everything Weather: Facts, Photos, and Fun that Will Blow You Away states, "weather can be wild, freaky, and fascinating! Powerful twisters roar through homes; earthquakes shatter whole cities; hurricanes fly through towns. How does it all happen and how do we know what we do? All you need to know about weather and all of its wildness will be found in the pages of this colorful, energetic, and accessible book. Kids will also learn about real-life encounters with wild weather."
Suggested Age Range: 8-12 years
The Everything KIDS' Weather Book: From Tornadoes to Snowstorms, Puzzles, Games, and Facts That Make Weather for Kids Fun! asks "have you ever wondered what happens in the eye of a tornado or how hurricanes gain their strength? From lightning and snow-day blizzards to rainbows and monsoons, The Everything Kids' Weather Book gives you an exciting look into all the action that happens in the sky." The book also includes puzzles, games, facts, and more.
Suggested Age Range: 7-12 years
Children's Books About Being Scared, Anxiety, and Coping
Once I Was Very Very Scared is a story about a squirrel. "A little squirrel announces that he was once very, very, scared and finds out that he is not alone. Lots of little animals went through scary experiences, but they react in different ways. Turtle hides and gets a tummy ache, monkey clings, dog barks, and elephant doesn’t like to talk about it. They need help, and they get help from grown-ups who help them feel safe and learn ways to cope with difficult feelings. This story was written to help children and grown-ups understand how stress can affect children and ways to help them."
Suggested Age Range: Not listed
David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety is about little David and how he learns to control the "worry beast."
Suggested Age Range: 4-9 years
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine is a "fun and humorous book [that] addresses the problem of anxiety in a way that relates to children of all ages. It offers creative strategies for parents and teachers to use that can lessen the severity of anxiety. The goal of the book is to give children the tools needed to feel more in control of their anxiety. For those worries that are not in anyones control (i.e. the weather,) a worry hat is introduced. "
Suggested Age Range: 5-8 years
What Do You Do With a Problem? is a "story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared."
Suggested Age Range: 4-8 (but I happen to think this is also a good book for older ages and even adults)
Jenny Is Scared: When Sad Things Happen in the World is "a comforting, coping story for children who are aware of the threats of violence and terrorism in the world. A range of fears, feelings and questions are explored. The child reader is encouraged to talk to parents, friends and other caregivers."
Suggested Age Range: 5-7 years
A Terrible Thing Happened is a book about Sherman who experienced something bad. "At first he tried to forget about it, but something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous and had bad dreams. Then he met someone who helped him talk about the terrible thing, and made him feel better."
Suggested Age Range: 4-7 years
Children's Books About Helping Others
The Giving Tree is a classic that is still one of the best books about helping others (in my opinion). The book is a "touching interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return."
Suggest Age Range: 1-8 years (but is also good for all ages, even adults)
Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids is a winner of 21 awards and
"encourages positive behavior by using the concept of an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love by 'filling buckets.'"
There is also Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children.
Suggested Age Range: 4-9 years (but it is good for all ages, even adults)
I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children is a book from a "variety of cultures and peoples [and] timeless stories, poems, songs, quotations, and folktales that speak to all children to let them know that they can make a difference in today's world."
Suggested Age Range: 4-8 years
A version of this post appeared on HomeschoolSuperFreak.com.
Jacqueline Wilson is the #1 Bestselling Author of “It’s Homeschooling, Not Solitary Confinement: Busting the Myths, Misconceptions, and Misinformation About Homeschooling.”