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Natural Disasters Topic

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Best children’s books about natural disasters

Natural disasters are usually naturally caused phenomena relating to severe weather changes or geological events. These disasters can happen across the globe and many schools help children to understand the events by planning a related geography topic for pupils to explore in Key Stage 2. From tsunamis and tornadoes to earthquakes and eruptions, we’ve picked out a selection of recommended children’s books that cover our extreme Earth and help young readers to explore the topic of natural disasters…

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Recommended chapter books about natural disasters

Jess Butterworth
Chapter book
Twelve-year-old Eliza and her sister Avery have lived their entire lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Louisiana, growing up alongside turtles, pelicans and porpoises. But now, with sea levels rising, their home is at risk of being swept away.Determined to save the land, Eliza and her younger sister Avery secretly go searching in the swamp for the dangerous, wolf-like loup-garou . If they can prove this legendary creature exists, they're sure that the government will have to protect its habitat - and their community. But there's one problem: the loup-garou has never been seen before. And with a tropical storm approaching and the sisters deep, deep in the swampland, soon it's not just their home at risk, but their lives as well...
Emma Carroll
Chapter book
A sinking boat. A girl in disguise. A disappearing sea.When Fortune Sharpe carves a boat from a tree with her beloved brother, Gem, she's only having a bit of fun. But now is not the time for a girl to be drawing attention to herself. She is sent away to find work dressed as a boy. Luckily a rich manor house is hiring.Yet Berrow Hall's inhabitants harbour dangerous secrets of their own, the suspicious owner is hunting for witches, and the house itself is a little too close to the sea.
Jess Butterworth
Chapter book

This story, set on top of a super volcano in Yellowstone Park in America, starts with an act of senseless and terrifying violence but turns into a beautiful story of friendship and bravery. Two children are dealing with the events they have been through – Seb is struggling with both the prospect of losing his best friend as well as with his memories of a horrific shooting, while Vivi is mourning the loss of her much-loved grandmother. Set against the stunning volcanic backdrop of Yellowstone Park, this is both a thoughtful depiction of children dealing with life-changing events which are beyond their control, whilst also being a high-paced adventure with a thrilling climax deep in the heart of Yellowstone Park.

Ewa Jozefkowicz
Chapter book

Flick adores her older brother Jack. She loves his sense of fun, his passion for puzzles and riddles and the feeling that she gets from the special sibling bond they share. There’s been an empty space in Flick’s heart ever since Jack headed off to Peru on a gap year trip, but at least Flick knows that Jack is immersed in exciting adventures. When the shock news arrives of an earthquake in Peru, nobody is able to contact Jack and Flick’s world falls apart. Through a blur of panic and confusion, Flick pieces together fragments of a puzzle to try to find Jack – centred around a special key that Jack left behind with the initials S.F. written on it.

As the family anxiously waits for news of Jack, Flick sets the wheels in motion for her own investigation, desperately trying to track down the mysterious S.F.. Along the way, she discovers a host of other friends and family members who are meaningful in Jack’s world, each with their own tale to tell of how kind and special her brother is to them.

True to style, Ewa Jozefkowicz weaves a multi-layered narrative of self-discovery that explores the riches of family bonds and the value of listening to the stories of other people. There’s a mystery to solve, a story-within-a-story and plenty of intrigue, and I particularly enjoyed how beautifully the sibling relationship was portrayed. This is a heartwarming third novel from Ewa Jozefkowicz that will resonate with middle-grade readers who enjoy delving into stories with a real-life feel or are looking for a bit of a mystery to get stuck into.

Barbara Henderson
Chapter book

Wilderness Wars is a gripping adventure story about respecting nature’s power and caring for the environment.

Em is unsure what to expect when she and her family move to the uninhabited Scottish island of Skelsay due to her father’s construction project. The harsh remoteness of the island seems at once exciting and terrifying at first. The families will live in a settlement of portacabins and the few children in the group will be taught together by the enthusiastic teacher Mr Johnston. After quickly befriending Zac, who is the only other young person of the same age, Em begins to notice how the project to build a new luxury retreat seems to be facing more than the usual amount of setbacks and mishaps due to the island’s natural wildness. Could nature be fighting back?

Em and Zac encounter a race against time to persuade their families of the danger they face on Skelsay. Tension quickly mounts in the story as a series of disasters unfold, leading to an almost apocalyptic climax.

Wilderness Wars is an edge-of-your-seat exciting story with a strong environmental theme, making it an excellent addition to classroom libraries in Upper KS2.


Juliette Forrest
Chapter book

A gripping mountain-based adventure with strong female role models. Clova has grown up with the mountains and moors as her playground, with her Mum and Dad’s love of the outdoors shared passionately since the day she was born. When her Mum’s life is lost during a search and rescue mission, Clova loses not just her Mum, but her Dad, her best friend and the freedom to run wild that, to her, is the very essence of life itself. By chance she meets Taffy, an abandoned collie, and a bond develops between them that might just save more than one life, including their own.

This is a story filled with loss and heartbreak, hope and fear, and a delicate web of characters, each experiencing and dealing with loss in their own way.  I found myself wanting to pack a rucksack and hiking boots and head straight off to the highlands of Scotland, then became mindful of the dangers that might arise if I did just that. Masterful and sweet, each character is introduced, sometimes fleetingly, only to return at a poignant point later as their paths cross again and the elaborate tapestry that Forrest sews comes together.

 

Shorter chapter books about natural disasters

Bear Grylls
 & Emma McCann
Chapter book
Olly isn't enjoying activity camp. Why should he bother building a shelter or foraging for food with his teammates - he'd rather be at home in the warm and dry, where the sofa and the video games are. But then Olly gets given a compass with a mysterious fifth direction. When he follows it, he's magically transported to a high mountain range where he meets survival expert Bear Grylls. With his help, Olly must learn to survive in sub-zero temperatures, including what to do if the ice cracks when you're crossing a frozen lake, or a blizzard sets in . . . But can his adventure with Bear Grylls change Olly's mind about teamwork and perseverance? And who will Olly give the compass to next?
Malorie Blackman
Chapter book
A hurricane is on it's way . . . And Betsey can't wait! Join her as she helps prepare for the storm, is entered into a very strange contest, and even attempts to eat a MONSTER hamburger in four fabulously funny adventures. This book is one of five collections featuring Betsey Biggalow from Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman. Beautifully illustrated by Jamie Smith, these stories are ideal for building confidence in young readers, whether reading aloud or alone.

Picturebooks about natural disasters

Mariajo Ilustrajo
Picturebook

Flooded is a visually stunning book with a powerful story about learning to face up to problems before they grow too big.

In Flooded, the city faces a problem. It seems like a normal day; the city wakes up to find itself a little bit wet. No one minds at first as it was just a little bit of water, but as the city carries on with its usual rhythm, the smaller animals start to realise that it is all becoming a rather big problem.

Flooded is a fun story illustrating how small problems can grow into bigger problems if we don’t give them enough attention. It is also a story about how problems are easier to solve together and communities that work with a positive common goal can be very powerful.

This book is full of surprises and has a pull-out page at a very significant part of the story, which really creates excitement for younger children as they are reading the book. When sharing this book with my class, it really made them think and predict about how the animal’s problem could be solved. They absolutely loved the artwork featuring gorgeous, blues and blacks as well as yellow shades for a very significant character within the book.

Lara Hawthorne
Picturebook
In this beautifully illustrated picture book from Lara Hawthorne, a mysterious creature from a secluded volcano crater explores the outside world for the very first time . . . but is it not what he expects it to be! Will his adventure teach him there is no place like home?Ratty lives deep inside the crater of an ancient volcano nestled in the rainforest. One day, he spies a particularly delicious-looking fruit high in the treetops, and sets out to reach it. From this high vantage point a spectacular view stretches before him - the world outside his mountain crater. In this big outside world, Ratty imagines, the fruit must be much sweeter, the bird songs more beautiful and the other animals far more interesting and sophisticated, and so he sets off in search of better things. But when is he is asked to attend a dinner party by a crocodile who seems just a bit too friendly, Ratty realises that perhaps there is no place like home after all.Inspired by the recent scientific breakthroughs of Mount Bosavi, in which over 40 new species of animals and plants were identified, Lara Hawthorne seamlessly combines story and fact in this picture book which celebrates the diversity of life, even in extreme habitats.
Christina Balit
Picturebook

Escape from Pompeii tells the story of a young boy called Tranio who lives in Pompeii at the time of the famous eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. This captivating picture book allows readers to follow the footsteps of Tranio and his friend Livia as they come to terms with the destruction of their city and find their own routes to freedom.

There is also an accompanying 2-week English unit available from KS2History.

AEvar THor Benediktsson
 & Anne Wilson
Picturebook

The bright, eye-catching cover of the picturebook, ‘Stranded! A mostly true story’ draws the reader in with humour and kept me guessing throughout about which part was not true. It is a unique, ‘mostly’ true story about the beautiful country of Iceland and a volcano, based on the experiences of the author’s grandfather and the Icelandic volcanoes at Surtsey.

I learnt lots of new information about Iceland and the illustrations were outstanding. As the story progresses, the reader is kept guessing right until the very end and there is a lovely twist that I do not think many would guess!

This is a perfect book for anyone who likes to learn about volcanoes and this real-life account also is complemented by a section about ‘Surtsey’ the World Heritage Site (which this story is about) and lots of information about volcanoes, as well as ‘Did You Know?’ and links to the Gods of Norse Mythology. For this short book, there is something for everyone; it is a gem!

Non-fiction books about natural disasters

Sophie Williams & Robin Jacobs
Non-fiction

We often get asked about books to support the ‘Awesome Earth’ or ‘Natural Disasters’ topics for KS2 and we think we may have just found the perfect one.

Earth Shattering Events explores geological and meteorological disasters, with each page dedicated to a different natural event from volcanoes and tsunamis to cyclones and wildfires. Each event is explained in a way that is easy to understand for junior children without compromising on presenting the underlying scientific facts.

A real strength of the book is how highly visual the design is, with appealing diagrams, large illustrations, maps and charts contributing greatly to the reader’s understanding of each topic. Also of high interest are the explanation boxes showing what to do if you get caught in the various disasters and the charts that show how each one is measured.

This is a wonderful book with a high level of appeal and certainly one to recommend for KS2 classrooms as a topic book or a really interesting read for pleasure.

Tom Vaillant
Non-fiction
Open this book and step into the fiery world of volcanoes! Find out why they erupt, what scientists can learn from them and which animals call them home. Explore volcanoes at the bottom of the sea, gaze upon the volcanoes of Mars, and travel back in time to find out what happened to the city of Pompeii...
Liz Gogerly
 & Miguel Sanchez
Non-fiction
Weather is awesome and exciting - it's part of our everyday lives but what is it? This funkily illustrated title explores all types of weather with four children Anjali, Lulu, Mason and Noah. Their teacher, Mr Sangar, explains that weather is about what's happening in the atmosphere. And, there are six major things going on up there that are constantly changing and making our weather. Mason's dad explains the water cycle to them. They experience all types of weather, such as rain, snow, sleet and hail and see some fantastic rainbows too. They learn about extreme weather , such as floods, hurricanes and typhoons and find out how to identify different types of clouds and lightning . They discover the different climate zones, learn about jet streams and get serious about climate change and global warming .
Izzy Howell
Non-fiction
Learn about volcanoes and find out how they form, where they are most likely to be and how scientists study them through diagrams and case studies. Fact Planet is a lively, information-filled geography series, packed full of colourful illustrations, clear explanations and fun quizzes to test your knowledge. The eye-catching flat illustrations combined with occasional photos bring geography and environmental issues to life.

Rachel Minay
Non-fiction
Explore Earth's geography through the Map Your Planet! seriesWhat are natural disasters and why do they happen? From wild weather, such as swirling storms and deadly droughts, to violent volcanoes and terrible tsunamis, learn how people around the world are affected by natural disasters, and what they can do to protect themselves.Explore geography through maps with the Map Your Planet! series. See key geography topics in action, as case studies are brought to life with large, detailed maps. Discover the importance of mapping and how maps are created and kept up to date. Perfect for readers aged 9+.
Mark Brake
 & Brendan Kearney
Non-fiction
Planet Earth. Four elements. One incredible story. Lonely Planet Kids' The Big Earth Book takes children on a rollercoaster ride through history, geography, science and more to show how four elements - earth, fire, air and water - created the world and everything that exists today. Amazing facts, photography and illustrations bring our planet and its past to life in an exciting, engaging way.Written by Mark Brake, a science writer and broadcaster who's worked for NASA, the BBC and the National Science Museum of Thailand, and created in consultation with Dr Mike Goldsmith, a research scientist and writer with a PhD in astrophysics from Keele University in the UK.

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