by Sara Croymans
I love children’s books. Despite the fact that my children are grown, I continue to spend time in the children’s department at the bookstore, as well as collect and gift books to my grandchildren and others. Books are magical. Their beautiful pictures and amazing stories allow us to be transported to different places, meet unique people, understand new concepts, and recognize various emotions.
Books provide an opportunity for parents and other
adults to introduce challenging topics and have meaningful discussions with their children about those topics. In previous Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Family Transitions blogs I have shared book lists about helping military children manage transitions and preparing military children for PCSs. In addition, the MFLN Family Development Early Intervention team provides additional book lists on a variety of topics that may impact military families.
This fall, MFLN is hosting a Military Family Readiness Academy titled Disaster and Hazard Readiness Foundations. The three part webinar series focuses on the unique needs of military families in the context of disaster and hazard readiness. It is important for all family members to be prepared in the event of a disaster or hazard. One way to help children prepare is to engage them with books.
In searching for children’s books about disasters I came across a great blog, Using Books to Teach Your Child About Natural Disasters, by Sarah Thompson. She explains that adults who read books about storms and emergency situations with children can help them better understand and prepare by thinking through emergency scenarios; correct false beliefs, learn about resilience, and express and handle emotions.
There are lots of disaster related books to choose from for all ages of children. Multiple lists of children’s books are available, including:
● Get Ready Get Safe Book List – Association for Library Service to Children
● Reading to Ready Booklist by Save the Children
● CurriConnects Book List – Natural Disasters – TeachersFirst
● Disaster and Resilience – A Teen Book List – Sonoma County CA Library
● 8 Books to Help Children Understand Natural Disasters and Cope with Anxiety by Forbes
● 15 Children’s Books on Disasters, Weather and Worry by Huffpost
In addition, many organizations provide resources for families to teach and engage children about disaster preparedness and response. Check these out:
● American Academy of Pediatrics / HealthyChildren.org – Disasters and Your Family: Be Prepared
● Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) – Helping Your Child Cope with a Disaster
● ChildCare Aware – Emergency Preparedness
● Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) – Children and Disasters
● Military One Source – Recognizing the Signs of Stress in Children After a Disaster
● National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Disasters
● Ready.gov & FEMA – Welcome to Ready Kids!
● Save the Children – Making Disaster Preparedness Fun: Get Ready. Get Safe
● Sesame Street – Handling Emergencies
● U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response – Early Childhood Disaster-Related Resources for Children and Families
The best time to discuss emergencies and disasters is before an event happens. I encourage parents, family members, child care providers, schools, as well as military family service providers to add books about disaster preparedness and response to their children’s libraries and include programming and activities around the topic to your calendar. These efforts will pay huge dividends in the event of an emergency or disaster.
This blog post was written by Sara Croymans, MEd, AFC, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, member of the MFLN Family Transitions team, military spouse and mother. Family Transitions provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Engage with the MFLN Family Transitions team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.