Reading, Resilient and Ready: Using books to support children’s emergency preparedness, response, and recovery in child care

November 07, 2023

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Child Care Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery 

Children of all ages should be involved in emergency preparedness activities in their child care program. If an emergency or disaster occurs, children may need support in understanding and coping. The right books can help child care providers support children in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.  

Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) compiled a list of 100 children’s books that can be used to support emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. This list is not exhaustive, but a starting point to help child care providers identify books that can be used to prompt learning, discussion, and coping strategies.  

Using Books for Child Care Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery 

Books are a great tool for child care emergency preparedness, response, and recovery because they can be used to help children: 

    • Understand: When children have an understanding of the weather events and emergencies that may happen, they feel better prepared and less scared. 
    • Prepare: Books can help children learn about the importance of emergency preparedness and think of ways to help prepare.  
    • Cope: Learning about emotions associated with emergency response and recovery, such as fear, anger, and sadness, and ways to cope with them will help keep children calm. 

Child care providers should review all books before reading them to ensure they are appropriate for the children and the situation. Books should be age-appropriate and provide information in a way that does not create fear or cause additional stress.  

While there are not a lot of books about emergencies geared toward infants and toddlers, there are books that talk about feelings, weather, and community helpers that can help start the conversation. The ritual of reading books with infants and toddlers helps strengthen bonds between children and caregivers. This important connection is key in helping children feel secure and builds trust. Security and trust are essential to emergency response and recovery. As children get older, they will be ready for more information to help them understand emergencies and disasters, as well as emotions.  

Understanding Emergencies and Disasters 

Books about emergencies and disasters can help children learn about what causes them and what to expect. This can also help them be less scared. For example, if children know about how tornadoes form and what steps to take to stay safe, they will feel more confident in the event of a tornado watch or warning.  

There are books about weather available for children of all ages. They can be read on sunny days but can also be a great teaching tool on rainy or snowy days as well.  

Involving Children in Emergency Preparedness  

Children can contribute to emergency preparedness in different ways based on their ages. Young children can help pack emergency supply kits. Older children can discuss evacuation routes and help label exits. Child care providers can even point out emergency-related items (such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and flashlights) to infants. Books can be a starting point for these activities. 

You can find books for children of all ages that discuss community helpers. Child care providers can use these books to talk to children about who might come to help them (e.g., fire fighters, police officers) in an emergency. 

Promoting Coping and Resilience Before, During, and After an Emergency or Disaster 

There are many books that help children understand and process their emotions. Whether they are specific to disasters or not, books that help identify emotions and offer calming and coping strategies can support children before, during, and after an emergency or disaster.  

After reading a book with children, child care providers can use it as an opportunity to have conversations with children and discuss how they are feeling. These discussions should start before a disaster or emergency strikes, so children are better prepared if an emergency or disaster happens. 

Nebraska Extension Early Childhood Development’s resource Read for Resilience provides resources for supporting young children’s coping through the use of storybooks.  

Books to Support Practice Drills 

We all know how important practice drills are for child care emergency preparedness. While this is a crucial step in keeping children safe, it can be scary in the moment. Before a practice drill, child care providers can read books to help children understand why we do them and what to expect. During a practice drill, child care providers can read books to help keep children busy and calm. Afterward, books can be shared to discuss and process how the children were feeling.  

Be sure to include some books in your child care program’s emergency supply kits for evacuation and sheltering-in-place! 

Putting it into Practice 

Books can lead to discussions about being ready for emergencies and help children feel better prepared and safer during practice drills or if an emergency occurs. Child care providers already read books to children often, so they can easily incorporate books for emergency preparedness, response, and recovery into reading time.  

Books are an excellent tool to help children understand, prepare for, and cope with emergencies and disasters. Be sure to add some books and discussion into your reading routine! 

For more information on child care emergency preparedness, response, and recovery, visit 



Topics: emergency preparedness

Jillian Ritter

Written by Jillian Ritter

Jillian Ritter serves as a Data Analyst for Child Care Aware® of America and a member of its Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery team. Her professional service includes more than 20 years in the early childhood care and education field in a variety of roles. She has a Master’s Degree in Youth Development and a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development.