I Survived Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
I Survived Series Book Poster Image
Parents recommend
Riveting, emotional historical fiction for young readers.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

In addition to the historical facts specific to each disaster, these books include other historically accurate information specific to the time and place -- lots of details about the sights and, for example, the smell of slaughterhouses in 1871 Chicago. 

Positive Messages

The children and adults in these books are all earnest, kind people, but let's not forget the main character: the disaster. While not gruesome, the disasters detail bleak moments in history and could be a rough read for sensitive kids, since the disasters are devastating for many.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The stories are told from a child's point of view, and all the adults interacting with the children are kind, trying to help everyone around them and to protect others from harm or death.

Violence & Scariness

These are books about massive disasters. Tension is built into the premise of the series, and at times it can be intense for young readers.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lauren Tarshis's I Survived series is captivating, emotional, and historically accurate. The kids in these stories face scary situations in their first-person accounts of the disasters; they're often alone, hurt, and in an unfamiliar place. But because almost everyone around them is trying to help the kids survive or find their parent, once the worst is over, the overall feeling from the books is optimistic. The end of each story of survival gives a glimpse into the post-disaster life of the family and ends with an upbeat note.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7-year-old Written byLeslie8banks May 1, 2020

Good book but too intense for 7 year old.

My 7 year old is obsessed with all things Titanic since she was about 5. We have read so many books and she has seen the movie many times, which can get pretty... Continue reading
Adult Written byleishladyland January 24, 2020

Took a poll

My 7 yo came home with the DDay installment of this series. Knowing how gruesome this event was I flipped through to see if it was “kidified” at all. It was hea... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybookreader69 January 19, 2020

I loved reading it

I loved reading the I Survived series, especially The Eruption of Mt Saint Helens. That one was great! I loved how it was full of action, a bit emotional, and... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 7, 2021

Just One Problem...

Obviously this series is violent, but can be too intense for everyone. I thought I loved it, yet a problem that occurs in all children's television and lit... Continue reading

What's the story?

The I SURVIVED series follows children navigating some of the most memorable disasters of our time. From the eruption of Pompeii and the sinking of the Titanic, to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Joplin, Missouri, tornado, this series describes the sights, smells, and sentiments of life before, during, and after each chaotic moment. The kids take cover in a ditch to avoid burning wind from the Mount St. Helens volcanic eruption, or help orphans escape the Chicago fire, or watch Titanic sink in the freezing ocean. Readers are dropped into the lives of kids their own age, into disasters they've likely never faced.

Is it any good?

Since we already know that each of these disasters is, well, a disaster, the beauty of these books is in the enthralling storytelling. The I Survived series is about epic disasters, but it also tells the human stories that are glossed over in history books. Many of the kids in the stories have recently lost a parent, adding another emotional layer to the terror they face navigating the 1871 Chicago fire, or the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. These stories are fast-paced, tense, full of accurate historical details, and show kids' bravery and resilience. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about disaster preparedness. While some of the disasters in the I Survived series aren't likely to happen to most readers (the Titanic sinking, for example), knowing what to do in case of a fire, earthquake, or tornado is an important family conversation.

  • What must it have been like to try to get away from these disasters? Are there any cases where it's better to stay put?

  • What other books have you read or heard of that are set in disaster zones?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure and history

Themes & Topics

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