Preschool and Picture Books

Theme: Survival

Castaway Cats - (ISBN: 978-0689862328)

by Lisa Wheeler

Everyone knows cats hate water, so when a large group of cats is forced to abandon ship, they quickly find their way to a desert island. In a desperate survival attempt, they combine their personalities, interests, and talents to find food and eventually build a ship to help them return to their homes. Which of the cat’s personalities do you prefer? Why?

Mama: A True Story in Which a Baby Hippo Loses His Mama during a Tsunami, But Finds a New Home and a New Mama - (ISBN: 978-0152054953)

by Jeanette Winter

A mama and a baby hippo keep calling out to one another in the sea despite the ravaging waves of the tsunami. After he becomes separated from his mother, he bravely soldiers on and eventually gets to shore. Who does he find to become his second mother?

Oh, No Little Dragon - (ISBN: 978-1416995456)

by Jim Auerbach

Little Dragon tries to rekindle his “flame” which his clumsiness has accidentally put out. His mother continues to assure him of her love despite his accidents. Enjoy reading about his humorous series of mishaps as he tries to reignite!

Panda’s Earthquake Escape - (ISBN: 978-1607180715)

by Phyllis J. Perry

A mother panda and her two babies manage to survive the calamities of an earthquake by running far from their damaged home in a forest preserve and eating what they find along the way. Not happy because they are not chomping on the preferred bamboo, they are relieved when animal rescuers find them and get them back home. Based on a true event, this book shows readers how earthquakes affect the animal population as well as humans. Have you ever felt an earthquake?

Stellaluna - (ISBN: 978-0152015404)

by Janell Cannon

An immature bat goes to live in a bird’s nest after becoming estranged from her own mother. She follows the mama bird’s lessons and eventually learns to fly, after which she re-finds her bat mother! After looking at this book, you will come to acknowledge that even bats are beautiful! Have you ever seen a bat?

The Tiny Seed - (ISBN: 978-1416979173)

by Eric Carle

This book delightfully shows us how even tiny seeds manage to survive, sprout, and father other seeds despite unpredictable weather, human stompers, and flower pickers. Plant your own seeds. And then, photograph seedlings growing in a garden and compare pictures at one-week intervals.

A Small, Tall Tale from the Far, Far North - (ISBN: 978-0374467258)

by Peter Sis

My Little Polar Bear - (ISBN: 978-0545146005)

by Claudia Rueda

Ten Little Beasties - (ISBN: 978-1596436275)

by Rebecca Emberley

Activities for this Theme

Build a toy boat in your basement or playroom out of abandoned cardboard appliance boxes. Play shipwreck or tsunami to experience firsthand the thrills and perils of catastrophe survival.


Develop an escape route for your family in case of fire. Get rope ladders that are easy to put down for second floor escapes. Find ideas and planning tools at the National Fire Protection website.


Help your children memorize phone numbers for their homes, relatives, and emergency services.


Plant seeds in paper cups or in zipper storage bags. Experiment with sun and water amounts to see which combination leads to the most likely survival. Use these directions to get started.