Talking with Kids about Severe Weather and other Disasters

After a long night of weather warnings and a tornado ripping through nearby Dallas, I’m reminded that some children (and adults!) have an overwhelming fear of extreme weather and other types of disasters. Although many aspects of these scary occurrences are out of our control, as adults, we can stay well-informed and plan ahead as much as possible to help alleviate part of the worry. Kids have the additional challenges of not fully understanding the various situations and not knowing how to prepare for or deal with these events. Maybe you’d like a great book written with children in mind to get an open and informative discussion started!

The ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), a division of the  American Library Association (ALA), has compiled the Get Ready Get Safe Book List, with titles about preparing for emergencies, monitoring weather or other types of disasters, and overcoming fears in general. A short description of each book is provided, along with the recommended ages. Many topics are addressed, including blizzard, fire, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, earthquake, hailstorm, flood, and blackout. Parents, teachers, and grandparents can surely find a book here that could help.

On a bit of a lighter note, I love sharing the book, Thunder Cake, by Patricia Polacco, with kids. It’s set in my home state of Michigan and tells how a very smart grandmother keeps her worried granddaughter’s mind off an impending thunderstorm. The book includes themes of empowerment and personal strength.

I hope you find something here to share with your favorite youngsters!


32 thoughts on “Talking with Kids about Severe Weather and other Disasters

  1. What a timely and important post! That book list is such a valuable resource to share. I was extremely afraid of storms as a child and even as a teen. It wasn’t until I became an elementary school teacher that I finally realized I had to be the adult and show no fear – even if I was nervous inside!

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  2. What a very good idea! I recall when living in Zambia as a child there was a really violent thunderstorm with lightning arcing around the place and running through our bungalow screaming in terror… Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I very much enjoy Thunder Cake as well. It demonstrates a great way to embrace lightning and thunder by making it a fun thing rather than something to be frightened of.

    Having taught for many years, extreme weather was something that frightened many of my younger students. Anything that rarely happens adds to the fear because it is new for so many children. Much like anything else, experience is the best teacher.

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    1. Yes, I remember how frightened some students became during fire drills! Hopefully some of these disasters they’ll only experience through a book, but I know what you mean, Pete. Fear of the unknown is the worst.


  4. Great post Becky!! As a young person living in Oklahoma (tornado etc. alley) I read the Native American tales about thunder and etc. weather phenomenon – and found some solace there. I’m glad there are more books for younger readers on such topics now. Great post!!

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      1. I haven’t lived in Okla for a number of years now. The weather here in WA is very different – and I feel more comfortable here in many ways – but after moving to the PNW region one of the first things I did was buy a book of Native American lore about the weather titled “Rains All the Time”. Such a help to get acclimated! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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