Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Theme: Survival

Eight Days: A Story of Haiti - (ISBN: 978-0545278492)

by Edwidge Danticat

A young boy tells the story of his weeklong entrapment after a Haitian earthquake. He relates his imaginary play with his friends, his missing his family, and his final doze off before he was rescued on the 8th day. How would you entertain yourself if you were in a similar situation?

Half Spoon of Rice: A Survival Story of the Cambodian Genocide - (ISBN: 978-0982167588)

by Sopaul Nhem

The picture book format of Half Spoon of Rice belies its message, to share the experience of one young boy who lived through the Cambodian genocide. He witnesses the disappearance of his family, the brutal treatment of those who flee their villages by the Khmer Rouge, and the conditions in the refugee camps. Although Nat does manage to find his parents, the book shares more of the true story of many who did not survive this Holocaust. Adults should preview this before reading it or recommending it to their children. This is a good one to read TOGETHER with a child and discuss.

Julie of the Wolves - (ISBN: 978-0060540951)

by Jean Craighead George

Miyax’ (or Julie, her “white” name) attempt to run away to San Francisco ends up with her lost in the Alaskan wilderness. In order to survive, she eases her way into a wolf pack. Which way of survival does she choose, the Eskimo, or the white?

River Friendly River Wild - (ISBN: 978-1416934875)

by Jane Kurtz

The poems in this book tell the story of a family’s evacuation to a shelter after a snowmelt flood ravages their town. Told from the perspective of a young girl, the picture she paints tells of the girl’s fears for her left-behind cat, the mother’s worries about the household belongings, and their eventual drive through the waterlogged streets to find surprising things in their house still intact. The book emphasizes the community feeling of the shelter and the neighborhood the family returns to. Soon, only memories remain of their challenging time away from home.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - (ISBN: 978-0380728855)

Charlotte begins her trip alone on a transatlantic schooner expecting her chaperones to arrive and accompany her to the U.S. Things become puzzling when they do not arrive and Charlotte’s unease increases when the sea crew states she should leave. As the trip continues, she takes over many roles: a murderer, a sea captain, and a survivor. What special characteristics does Charlotte have that enables her to grow into a self-possessed young woman? Do you share any characteristics with Charlotte? How are you the same? How are you different?

Aunt Minnie and the Twister - (ISBN: 0618111360)

by Mary Skillings Prigger

Lisette’s Angel - (ISBN: 978-0803724358)

by Amy Littlesugar

Little Horse on His Own - (ISBN: 978-0805073522)

by Betsy Byars

Activities for this Theme

Pack an emergency suitcase that you can grab and carry with you to the basement or other sheltered area in case of a tornado or hurricane. Do not forget to include water, food, blankets, flashlights, and batteries as well as a charged cell phone.


Make your own “school survival kit” following these suggestions for students in grades K-12.


Help campers prepare for being away from home with a handy summer camp survival kit.