My children are a bunch of Titanic buffs because they grew up watching me devour book after book about one of history’s most legendary ships. Ironically, you will never catch this Titanic afficianado aboard a luxury liner. I’m a poor swimmer and an avowed landlubber. Traversing the ocean’s depths in the pages of a good book is my preferred mode of travel!
My children and I have sailed through many Titanic books together (and watched several film adaptations). Here are some of our favorites:
Titanicat – (Marty Crisp and Robert Papp, 2008, ages 6 and up). When I first spotted this book, I assumed it was a fanciful tale for cat lovers that cashed in on the Titanic’s never-ending fame. I was wrong. Titanicat is based on the true story that came out in the 1990’s of a young Irish fellow who was asked to take care of the ship’s cat, and disembarked before she went to her doom. The narrative is bright and engaging, with gorgeous photo-realistic paintings of Titanic inside and out (see the one of green-eyed Jim with the Grand Staircase dome sparkling above him?). Young children will love the oversized pages and cozy renderings of the ship’s cat (named “401”) and a surprise she brings on board.
Inside the Titanic – (Illustrated by Ken Marschall, edited by Hugh Brewster, 1998, recommended for ages 6 and up). Ken Marschall, one of Titanic’s most famous painters, teamed up with editor Hugh Brewster to publish this book of highly detailed, cutaway illustrations for young Titanic fans who crave more details. Of all our books, I think this one really gives the best sense of Titanic’s massive size and spectacular fittings. Some of the pictures are absolutely riveting, including an eerie underwater view of Titanic’s bow as she sinks. Besides being full of technical details, there are true stories of children who sailed on the doomed ship. The book also includes a large, diagrammed pull-out poster of Titanic.
882 1/2 Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic – (Hugh Brewster and Laurie Coulter, illustrated by Ken Marschall, 2012, ages 8 and up). The minute you read the cover, you’ll get sucked into this book, because at the very bottom it asks “Why are there 882 1/2 questions?” To get the answer, you’ll have to open the book and start reading! Brewster and Marschall team up again, along with Laurie Coulter, to take you through the entire Titanic journey, from plans to perishing, in a Q&A format. Your children can pick this up and read in small bites, or get lost in it for hours. There are plenty of beautiful paintings, photographs and detailed diagrams throughout, plus a special feature which was added in 2012 on the making of James Cameron’s movie. It even has questions you might not think to ask like “Can you smell icebergs before you see them?” making this a book that pretty much anyone, not just Titanic fans, can learn from and enjoy.
Titanic (DK Eyewitness Book) – (Simon Adams, 2004, ages 8 and up). Here’s another addition to your Titanic library which is easy to read in small bites or in one long sitting because it’s packed with pages of fascinating facts organized by topic. It begins at the Belfast shipyard and ends well beyond Titanic’s sinking, covering more recent events like her discovery in the 80’s, lessons learned from the disaster and little-known tidbits of trivia. There are also 2 pages of resources for young explorers who crave more, and a bonus clipart CD-ROM of Titanic images. I’ve been reading Titanic lore for years and discovered many new things in this DK book!
T is for Titanic – (Michael and Debbie Shoulders, illustrations by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, 2011, grades pre-K and up). Your child will enjoy perusing this generously sized (11×10 inches) alphabetical, artistic salute to Titanic history. Each page focuses on one letter (“G is for Grand Staircase”) set against a backdrop of lush, evocative paintings in full color. Follow the “Floating Palace” from her brief days of glory to her unbelievable demise. Set this slim, hardcover volume out on your coffee table and watch curious adults pick it up, too!
Terror on the Titanic (Choose Your Own Adventure) – (Jim Wallace, 2007, ages 9 and up). If you’re an 80’s or 90’s child, then you are already familiar with “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. The story changes based on choices that the reader makes throughout the narrative. Titanic’s true story is a fascinating exercise in “what if’s” so it’s perfect for the Choose Your Own Adventure model. Do you help Fourth Officer Boxhall fire distress rockets or assist with loading the lifeboats? Do you go below decks and try to grab your valuables before Titanic sinks, or do you stay up top and hastily assemble a life raft from deck chairs? Each choice your child makes could mean life or death, and there are nineteen different possible endings. Hopefully, he or she will end up wrapped in a warm blanket on board the welcoming Carpathia, and not at the bottom of the icy Atlantic……
Finding the Titanic (Hello Reader, Level 4) – (Dr. Robert Ballard, 1993, recommended for grades 3 and up). Discovering the wreck of the Titanic was a bombshell story in 1985. After more than 70 years, the world had nearly given up hope of ever finding history’s most famous super liner. Dr. Robert Ballard spins his exciting discovery story for independent young readers in this small paperback edition. He includes plenty of color photographs of the expedition. I like that Dr. Ballard honestly shares his opinion about salvaging the Titanic graveyard, a topic very close to his heart as both a devotee and discover.
If you have any Titanic-themed book or activity recommendations for children, please share in a blog comment below!