Disaster Zone

Kids Disaster Preparedness Books

Do you introduce fear of natural disasters to children?

by Eric Holdeman / October 18, 2018

Someone handed me a copy of Hopper's Youth Disaster Series: Hurricanes and Floods about a month ago. I just got around to reading the book, which is part of a larger series Hopper Disaster Preparedness Books for Children.

There were two elements that caught my attention from reading just the one book.

  • There was a significant emphasis on one child be scared. I mean, many references — with the friend saying don't worry, do X.
  • Then the English in the book may be "child-like," but a few points of grammar were not correct  

I'll address both of these points. First the language. if you want to become a better reader and writer, I tell people to be continually reading and writing. You will get better. Howerver, I think your reading should be from texts that use proper grammar. It is a way to learn. Putting a book in language a child might use is one tactic, but I favor the Kings English than that of the playground.

Then there is the "fear factor." Most publications I read on this and emphasis from disaster educators is that fear does not work and should not be used to motivate people to become prepared for disaster. While I believe a "realistic respect" for disasters is appropriate, I do not think that fear being expressed by a character, i.e., "being scared" and is repeated, again and again in a single text is appropriate for a children's book.  

Then there is some other messaging in the flood portion, where the family does not evacuate because the flood is not supposed to be that bad, but floodwaters do end up around the home. Hmm, another bad message in my mind. Especially with the record flooding we keep seeing being repeated again and again in areas that "normally" don't have that level of flooding, and then people are trapped in attics, on roofs, being evacuated by boat, etc. 

I commend the author for trying to do the right thing, but ... in some cases he missed the mark — in my opinion. Note, the website does have an emphasis on childhood trauma.  

Last question for you adults, "Why do you fasten your automobile seat belt? Because it is the law? You don't want to get a ticket? You know accidents happen? Because you are afraid of being injured in an accident?