With all of the hurricanes swirling around the east coast, my girls and I were curious about weather, so we of course checked our local library. One series that we found does a really amazing job of taking complex weather systems and breaking them down in a way that any child can understand – Bel the Weather Girl.
This creative series was written by Belinda Jensen, a meteorologist based in Minnesota. Believing that knowledge is power, Belinda developed a series of engaging and enlightening presentations that reveal the science behind weather, and discovered, just as she hoped, that children aren’t nearly as frightened when they are informed. We managed to get our hands on 4 of the 6 books in the series. They are a great way to educate children about big weather concepts and hopefully help them have less fears about harsh weather patterns.
The concept of the series is pretty straight-forward. Bel is like a lot of other eight-year-olds—hosting sleepovers, playing in soccer tournaments, and running around with her big dog Stormy. But there’s also something special about this enthusiastic second-grader: she’s Bel the Weather Girl! Bel is the one her friends all turn to with weather mysteries, whether it’s to talk about twisting tornadoes or to translate the clues in the clouds. Bel’s mom the meteorologist has taught her a lot of weather facts, and Bel loves to share what she knows with her curious friends.
In The Sky Stirs Up Trouble, young Bel explains tornadoes to her count Dylan. Using the analogy of how you need certain ingredients to make a cake, this book explains how you need 4 weather ingredients to come together in order to make a tornado. The book also shows where most tornadoes happen and why, as well as safety precautions that you should follow should you experience a tornado warning. Since so many people think tornado and imagine it picking up Dorothy’s house, this is a more realistic explanation.
One of my daughters is unable to sleep during thunderstorms. A lot of people are very frightened of them, but if you live in certain parts of the country (hello NC), there is no escaping them. In A Party for Clouds, Bel’s cousin Dylan is afraid of thunderstorms. Bel tells him that “weather isn’t so scary once you understand it,” and then proceeds to explain the mechanics behind thunder and lightening. All kids who have had to wait out a summer thunderstorm while at the pool knows the safety precautions, but Bel helps understand the what and why behind those rules.
Belinda Jensen turns the complex concept of hail into something much easier to comprehend when she uses the metaphor of a roller coaster in Raindrops on a Roller Coaster. Frozen balls of ice are a confusion notion until you understand that raindrops sometimes swirl inside a cloud and can get chilled. If they keep swirling enough, they can get a thick layer of ice, which adds weight, making them fall before they defrost. Even I learned a bunch in this book.
Finally, A Snowstorm Shows Off is a simple, but clear explanation of what a blizzard is. Full of great little facts, like snow is frozen water vapor and that blizzards occur when warm air and cold air collide, this is a fabulous lesson on snowstorms. As with all of the Bel the Weather Girl books, each spread includes some safety tips and additional facts for older readers.
These are great additions to classrooms and school libraries. Also, the Bel the Weather Girl website even has experiments kids can do at home and lesson plans for teachers.
Every Wednesday I try to post a non-fiction picture book as part of the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy. There are truly so many amazing nonfiction picture books being published these days, it can be hard to contain myself sometimes. Make sure to check out Kid Lit Frenzy and the linked blogs to find some more fabulous books!
These sound like easy-to-understand and fun explanations. I’ll share with former colleagues, Michelle!