Stormy weather can sometimes make kids feel anxious or even scared. With hurricane season upon us on the East Coast and natural storms and disasters unavoidable in the news, I’ve put together a few recommended picture books to share with your kids to help put them at ease on bad weather days.
Hurricane by David Wiesner (HoughtonMifflin, 1990)
When a weather report tells them that a hurricane is coming, David & George’s family secures anything that might blow away in the yard, makes sure their cat comes inside, and then waits out the storm from the safety of their living room. Even when the lights go out because the storm knocked down electric lines, the boys aren’t scared. “It felt safe with everybody together, even though there were creaks and groans and sometimes great roaring sounds from outside.”
The next day, after the storm has passed, the boys see the changes the hurricane has made. A big tree was knocked down in their neighbor’s yard. Instead of making the boys feel scared or sad, the fallen tree opens a whole new world of imaginative play. The tree is like a new playground – it’s a ship, a jungle or even outer space. “The tree was a private place, big enough for secret dreams, small enough for shared adventures.” I love that this book shows that hurricanes don’t have to be scary and even if it brings destruction and change, good things can also come.
Storm in the Night by Mary Stolz, illustrated by Pat Cummings (HarperCollins, 1988)
When a storm during the night knocks out the electricity, you can’t pass the time like you could on other nights. You can’t watch TV, can’t read a book, and it’s too early to go to bed. Instead, it’s a time you can spend together with your family, talking and telling stories. In the dark, your other senses come alive and you may notice things about the way the rain or winds that you didn’t notice before. Even the world smells different.
Grandfather and the boys watch the storm from the safety of the porch, while Grandfather tells them a story about how he once felt during a thunderstorm and how he overcame the fear. Even if the boys themselves aren’t scared of the storm, it helps to pass the time in the dark. At the same time, with her poetic text, Stolz is reassuring young readers that they, too, can overcome their fears of stormy weather and learn to even see the beauty in all that lightning, rain and wind.
Blackout by John Rocco (Hyperion Books, 2011)
This wonderful new picture book by John Rocco may not be about a hurricane, but it directly deals with the loss of electricity, one of the more shocking and scary things for young children that could happen during a storm. With comic book paneling reminiscent of Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, and careful use of color and light, Rocco brings a city-wide blackout to life with skill and beauty.
On a hot summer night in the city, one girl’s family is much too busy to play a board game together. Dad’s making dinner, Sister’s on the phone and Mom’s on the computer, so the little girl decides to play a video game by herself. That is, until…the lights go out. Finally, with no electricity and no distractions, the family finds time to play together. And when it gets too hot inside, the family goes up on the roof, where they find other families had the same idea. “It was a block party in the sky.” With no city lights, for the first time they can all see the stars. The neighbors enjoy the night, allowing them to spend time differently than they usually do. But more importantly, when the lights come back on, they remember to spend that same kind of time together once in a while. What a like about this book, that makes it different than others, is that time without electricity doesn’t have to be “quiet” time. It just reminds readers that there’s different kinds of fun than the daily routines we all seem to get stuck in sometimes.
Thunder-Boomer! by Shutta Crum, illustraed by Carol Thompson (Clarion Books, 2009)
On a hot day, a thunder storm can feel like a release from the heat. It brings gusts of wind, chilly air and lots of cool rain. Instead of dreading a storm and feeling nervous when it arrives, the characters in this book book welcome it! The family prepares their farm, trying to take in laundry off the line and get all the animals inside where they’ll wait out the storm.
With humor in both the text and illustrations, full of great sound-effects and lots of antics from funny animals, the feeling during a thunderstorm is not one of fear, but of celebratory fun. Dad’s underwear was left on the laundry line and it goes whipping through the air past the window. When the dog seems to feel nervous and whines, the kids are the ones to comfort him. “‘Shhh, it’s all right.’ I tell him. ‘That’s just the thunder-boomer showing off.’” The sounds of the storm, the animals and bits of dialogue written in the illustration make this a wonderful book to read out loud. “Zzzzzt! Cr-a-a-ck! Zzzzzt! Rumble…. Swish-wack! Thump-wump!” The end of the thunder-boomer brings a wonderfully cute surprise ending to the book.
These picture books help readers see that not only do they not have to be scared of storms, but they can also learn to appreciate all the neat sounds and sights and changes that storms can bring. Do you have a favorite stormy weather picture book? Share it with us and other readers in the comments below!