Monday, August 31, 2009

Non-Fiction Monday: Remembering Hurricane Katrina

After hitting the southern Florida coast on August 25, Hurricane Katrina moved into the Gulf of Mexico and grew into one of the most devastating hurricanes in US history. On August 29, 2005, as a Category 3 storm, it stuck Burus, LA and surrounding areas, destroying communitites up and down the Gulf Coast. Levees in New Orleans were breached, and within two day (August 31), more than 80 percent of the city lay under water, trapping tens of thousands of people. The death toll in Louisiana , Mississippi, Alabama and Florida was more than 1,800, with more than 1,500 of those fatalities in Louisiana. The estimated 1 million people evacuated before and after the storm accounted for the largest movement of people in the US since the Great Depression and the Civil War. And with $80 to $100 billion in damage over 90,000 square miles, Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive natural disaster in US history.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

It is very likely that from now through Labor Day, television stations will be featuring stories that look back on the four years since Hurricane Katrina. Many children lived though this - watched the coverage on tv then or will be watching it in the days to come... As parents (and teachers) we need to be prepared to handle the questions that may surface as children express their curiosity around this natural disaster. Today, I've got a couple of books to share that might help children in understanding. I hope you find them helpful!

Larson, Kirby.
Nethery, Mary.
Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival.
Walker & Company.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

Bobbi and Bob Cat are the best of friends. When their hometown of New Orleans was struck by Hurricane Katrina, many lost everything. But not Bobbi and Bob Cat—they still had each other. Only by staying together could they survive. This is the story of their remarkable friendship.

This book would be perfect for younger children looking to understand why adults quiet at the mention of Hurricane Katrina - why their eyes are drawn to the television when coverage switches the the 4 years past storm. Being described through the eyes of animals, the attention of children will be captured immediately. The authors do a wonderful job in describing the basics that children should understand about Hurricane Katrina, without going into too much depth that would upset and scare children. Definitely a great story - very inspirational!

McGrath, Barbara Barbieri.
The Storm: Students of Biloxi, Mississippi, Remember Hurricane Katrina.

Summary from Amazon:

A compilation of stories and artwork by 91 children in grades K-12. Their submissions range from single-sentence descriptions, short paragraphs, and poems to black-and-white pencil sketches and paintings/drawings in other media. The book is divided into four sections that parallel the disaster's time line and effects–Evacuation, Storm, Aftermath, and Hope. Stark white pages serve as a crisp backdrop for the text and the variously sized art, which attracts the eye. Readers will be moved by images and descriptions that students share: My house drowned; Shingles were falling like pancakes; Everything in life is a privilege, not a right….I never believed that until I lost it all. The impact of the storm on the families of Biloxi and their struggles to rebuild their lives are vividly portrayed. Ultimately, the book emphasizes the resilience of children and the healing powers of art. It is also a practical means to helping the recovery efforts since a portion of the proceeds from the sales are being donated to Biloxi Public Schools.

Wow... that's all I can say after reading this book....
After not being able to take showers for a while, I began to get sores in my hair. My head itched and hurt. And having heat rashes made it uncomfortable to do anything. Once we were able to shower, we used a hose. And even then, it was only every other day. So I had to try to wash off the stench and sores with the ice-cold water. Going to the bathroom in a plastic bag made our life before seem like a luxury. Everything in life is a privilege, not a right. And I never believed that until I lost it all.
Melissa Woodruff, grade 11
How do you react to something of these proportions? It certainly makes me realize that taking a cold shower (broken water heater) isn't all that bad! This book is very moving. I don't however, think it is the type of book that you hand to a child and let them explore on their own. The quotes from students - the artwork - when looked at alone through a child's eyes will likely allow them to harbor great fear and scare of natural disasters. I don't think I would recommend this book for children younger than 10. And even those older than 10, I would suggest sharing it with the child as a family, discussing the emotions they feel as they read these quotes - admire the art within. It's definitely worth sharing, but should be shared tenderly.

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to