As I mentioned before, we are going through a period of loving to read about the Titanic. I am more than happy to search the library and bookstores for good books on the subject.
Discovering all of the information about the Titanic has really got J thinking. She is deeply saddened by the loss of life. She doesn’t understand how the Captain could make such bad decisions. In her words, “if you were sailing in the North Atlantic, would you put the ship on high speed?” She thinks that no ships should be allowed to sail in the North Atlantic during iceberg season. It really has been great for her to tackle a non-fiction subject like this, so I thought that I would share some of the fiction and non-fiction books that we have managed to find recently.
Based on the true story of a music box owned by Edith Rosenbaum, A Pig on the Titanic is a beautiful picture book that helps bring the story of the titanic to life. Miss Edith takes Maxixe the music box pig with her all over the majestic ship, or at least the 1st class parts. Then tragedy strikes as they hit the iceberg. You can see the ear in the passengers eyes as families get separated and people flee the ship. The music from the pig helps entertain boys and girls in the lifeboat until at last a rescue ship comes for them. It doesn’t touch on a lot of the harder to comprehend aspects of that horrible day, but it is a picture book aimed at a younger audience, so the tone is spot on. A great starting point.
Moving away from the picture book story format, we found the great book All Stations! Distress! This is a non-fiction long format picture book by Illustrator Don Brown. It almost reads like a chapter book, but Brown has made the information very accessible for kids in the younger elementary grades. A wonderful addition to a collection and very informative.
Taking another step towards serious non-fiction, On Board the Titanic takes readers through the experience on the Titanic in narrative form through the eyes of two survivors. It is filled with illustrations and paintings from the actual ship. The illustrations of how the iceberg hit and how the compartments failed are especially useful to comprehending what happened.
Of course Mary Pope Osborn produced a wonderful fact tracker to go along with the Magic Tree House book Tonight on the Titanic. J hasn’t been excited by Magic Tree House in a long time, but she still knows that their fact trackers are impeccably written and fun to read. This book aims to answer many of the questions that children would have about the Titanic that get brought up in the fictionalized account. How many people were aboard the Titanic? Why weren’t there enough lifeboats for all the passengers? How did this “unsinkable” ship sink? Even if you are not reading the companion books that the fact trackers go along with, these are definitely worth checking out.
We happened to find the book Can You Survive the Titanic?: An Interactive Survival Adventure at the library and it quickly became one of J’s favorites. This is a “you choose” book which is like a choose your own adventure in a factual situation. It pairs fact based information with create story paths. Your choice in this book is to either follow a surgeon’s assistant, a governess to a first class family, or a 12 year old boy. Everyone starts out at the same point with excellent information to set the scene. The choices that you are asked to make are choices real people probably had to make as well and could mean the difference between life and death. For example, men that chose one side of the ship versus the other had different chances of survival based on the ship steward on either side and how strict they were about only allowing women and children on or allowing men to also flee the ship. It was a great way to really make you understand what happened on board the ship.
The “I survived” series takes the most terrifying events in recent history and brings them to life in fictionalized stories. I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 was the first in this series and from J’s response, I have a feeling we will be reading many more of these in the future. This creates the story of a 10 year old boy and his little sister sailing on the Titanic. By utilizing historical fiction the author manages to make history more accessible to kids who prefer “stories” to “facts.”
However you do it, getting kids excited about non-fiction subjects is a wonderful thing that opens up a new world of possibilities and thought. Now we have to find another subject to add to our list!
The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf is a worthy addition to this list (Candlewick Press).
Thanks! I will definitely have to check that out.