Sunday, November 22, 2015

RA RA Read: I survived...reading all the I Survived books

I first heard about I Survived from the kids a few years ago when it was added to our school's Battle of the Books list. It's grown in popularity until it's now nearly as popular as Wimpy Kid and other perennial favorites, at least in my library. Thanks to some suggestions from Storytime Underground and my own mental files, I've compiled a list of titles to suggest when kids survive their initial bout of reading and clamor for more.

There are currently twelve I Survived books, with more being published approximately every six months. Fans will first want to check out the accompanying I Survived: True Stories series. The second title was just published and they are the true stories behind the stories, if you know what I mean.
  • Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
  • Shark Attacks of 1916
  • Hurricane Katrina, 2005
  • Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941
  • San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
  • Attacks of September 11th, 2001
  • Battle of Gettysburg, 1866
  • Japanese Tsunami, 2011
  • Nazi Invasion, 1944
  • Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79
  • Great Chicago Fire, 1871
  • Joplin Tornado, 2011
  • Hindenburg Disaster, 1937 (coming in 2016)

Top Secret Files series by Stephanie Bearce from Prufrock Press is a higher reading level, but will definitely attract kids who like the historical and short story aspect. Each book contains short anecdotes, historical facts, and other information. There are titles ranging from wars to the wild west and gangsters of the 1920s.

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales are awesome. That being said, you will have to do some booktalking as they're a different format than I Survived. They are graphic novels with dense text and illustrations, highlighting different historical moments. The series starts with One Dead Spy, but my personal favorite is Big Bad Ironclad. There are also more contemporary stories, like Treaties, Trenches, Blood and Muda powerful, but grim retelling of World War I. Get kids hooked, and they'll be fans but they'll need to be fairly strong readers.

Capstone has a great series that are not only good read-alikes for kids who are into Choose Your Own Adventures-style books, but also will grab the I Survived fan crowd. Can You Survive....? takes different historical events (like the Titanic) and general disasters (like being lost in the jungle or shipwrecked) and walks kids through choices to see if they can survive. They include nonfiction information as well. (Capstone also has some other series but I haven't included those because my library doesn't own any.)

Another series to try is DK Adventures. These are rather bland stories, but what makes them really popular with kids is the great variety in subjects and the inclusion of nonfiction elements. They range from underwater expeditions to exploding volcanoes to Star Wars. Kids who like real-life stories with nonfiction will enjoy these. Here's a sample, Horse Club.

Back to the straight-up adventures with historical aspects, Gordon Korman has several adventure series. There's one about the Titanic, Island, etc. What I love about these is that they're split into 3-4 volumes so kids don't feel intimidated by a huge book or by a lengthy series. Korman is a great writer and kids love his fast-paced adventures.

Finally, in the survival/adventure genre without historical aspects, I recommend

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