Rebecca Behrens books
Rebecca Behrens books
Rebecca Behrens books

THE DISASTER DAYS resources for parents and educators

The Disaster Days may be fiction, but natural disasters–like the major earthquake Hannah, Zoe, and Oscar experience–are sadly real. Young readers might have a lot of questions, and some concerns, after reading their story, so I’ve put together a few resources for parents and educators to help them discuss the book with kid readers. You can find (and download) them all on the book’s Resources page, and here’s a description of each:

The Disaster Days Educator Guide: This comprehensive educator’s guide, aligned to the CCSS for grades 4-7, has prereading information, comprehension questions, comprehension activities, and enrichment activities, as well as a list of resources.

The Disaster Days Discussion Guide: This two-page discussion guide is great for small groups and book clubs! It contains some background information about the book, followed by 10 conversation-sparking questions.

The Disaster Days Family Discussion Card: This postcard is a handy “cheat sheet” for grownups who want to talk about what their young reader is reading. One side has a summary about what the story is about; the other side has a few questions to spark a conversation before, during, and after reading the book and also to connect to current events. If you’d like a print copy of this card, contact me!

Around the Blogosphere

The Disaster Days has been making its way around the blogosphere and Bookstagram, and I’m so grateful to the reviewers, bloggers, and bookstagrammers who’ve taken the time to read and then write such thoughtful reviews!

“Really, really enjoyed this!” Ms. Yingling Reads

“This story was truly page-turning and exciting” Tara Creel Books

“I was enraptured enough by this book that I kept getting feelings of sorrow with each thing that happened to them. I wanted to reach into the book and, if nothing else, grab hold of them and let them know it was going to be okay.” Reading Authors

“Are you serious with this book?! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time while reading” @TheSmileLines via KidLitExchange

Rebecca Behrens’s The Disaster Days is a compelling and empowering middle-grade disaster story that will have readers on the edge of their seats and breathless!Aeicha at Word Spelunking

“Readers who like adventure and wonder what it would be like to live/survive in an earthquake zone will be riveted to every page of Hannah’s story.” The Reading Tub

“Behrens does a great job drawing readers into experiencing the children’s feelings of fear and hopelessness. Each chapter has enough peril and nail biting angst to keep even the most reluctant reader eagerly reading to find out what will happen next to Hannah and her charges.” You Decide: Should I Read It Or Not?

“Very much recommended to anyone who loves kids surviving on their own stories!” Charlotte’s Library

“I really liked how Hannah develops as a character, making mistakes, but doing everything she can to care for herself and the younger children and a cute guinea pig.” Stephanie Tournas, Youth Services Book Review

“The writing was so well done…fun and fresh, and exciting.” The Pages In Between

“Though set in the Pacific Northwest this tense tale of post-earthquake survival is equally relevant to other areas where natural disasters are a constant threat, and may encourage middle grade readers to think and find out about their family and school disaster plans.” Bibliobrit

“This one is a definite must-read, must-have.” Mom Read It

“It’s The Babysitter’s Club meets Hatchet! Enough said.” Miss Print

Check out the amazing emergency kit video from Bookstagrammer @RidaPageTurner!

“Suspenseful reading for students and adults alike!” Ms_D_Reads

“I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down.” The Librarian Is On the Loose

NJ School Tour!

Last week, I visited four great schools in New Jersey (Bloomfield Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School, Byram Township Intermediate School, and Fredon Township School) to talk to young readers and writers about The Disaster Days and how I research the real (and really fascinating) facts in all my books. One of the best parts of being an author is connecting with kids, sharing about the publishing process with them, and hearing their great questions!

TR in the library at Roosevelt Middle School!

A warm welcome from Bloomfield Middle School

The wonderful audience at Byram Township Intermediate School

Roosevelt Middle School’s cozy LMC. Their amazing librarian was setting up an escape room!

Talking about research trips at Roosevelt Middle School

Sharing a bit about all my books at Fredon Township School

Big thanks to Watchung Booksellers, Sparta Books, and Sourcebooks Kids for making these visits possible!

More great trade reviews for THE DISASTER DAYS

Trade reviews for The Disaster Days have kept rolling in, and I’m excited to share what these critics have to say about Hannah’s story:

“Behrens’s natural disaster–themed epic portrays a young person’s grace under pressure. . . . Her extraordinary resourcefulness and courage in deadly situations highlight her burgeoning maturity. Behrens (When Audrey Met Alice) uses immersive details and situations effectively viewed from Hannah’s perspective to create a suspenseful, vivid story filled with lessons about responsibility and overcoming adversity.” Publishers Weekly

“After reading Behrens’s informative, riveting portrayal of earthquakes and their aftermath, readers may learn how to respond in a similar situation. VERDICT A realistic, engrossing survival story that’s perfect for aspiring babysitters and fans of John Macfarlane’s Stormstruck!, Sherry Shahan’s Ice Island, or Wesley King’s A World Below.”Kaetlyn Phillips, Yorkton, Sask., School Library Journal

“The relentless progression of a variety of disaster scenarios will keep readers turning pages even as they learn, along with Hannah, vital information about earthquake safety and survival. Equally suspenseful and informative, this novel will spark important discussions about disaster preparedness.” Jenna MacKay, School Library Connection

“The strength of this steadily paced novel that stretches over four days of a scary disaster scenario is that Hannah doesn’t figure everything out; she stumbles, doubts, and struggles throughout it all” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Upcoming Events

I’m excited to hit the road and visit a bunch of schools and bookstores–with some fabulous author friends–to share The Disaster Days. Here’s what’s scheduled for public events so far:

For more information and updates, check out my Events page!


One day in July 2015, I pulled out my Tupperware and started eating a wilted salad at my day-job desk while browsing for a lunchtime read. An article in The New Yorker was getting all kinds of online buzz—it was about earthquakes; in Seattle? Interesting. I clicked to read.
At some point I’m sure I dropped my fork and totally abandoned my salad, because I couldn’t focus on anything but the story I was reading, about the serious threat the Pacific Northwest will face in the coming years from a major megathrust earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page (well, screen). And I couldn’t stop thinking about one particular detail of the devastating, terrifying aftermath: that people in rural communities might not be able to make it home for days after a quake wipes out the roads, bridges, and ferry system.
Those people could be parents.
Where would their kids be?
Immediately, I thought of a babysitter (much like tween me) trying to navigate this natural disaster as it happened.
What if, in a particularly isolated community—perhaps an island suburb—the parents couldn’t get home for hours and hours?
What if those hours turned into days?
My story, The Disaster Days, was sparked.
Of course, that was over four years ago. It took a trip to Seattle, loads of research, months of drafting, even more months of revision, a careful review by a geophysicist PhD, a title change (fun fact: the book was originally called In Case of Emergency), copyediting, proofreading, and a final promotion push for that idea to make it onto bookshelves. Where The Disaster Days hits today!
I’m excited to shift gears in terms of writing in a new genre with The Disaster Days, which is a realistic survival story. I still find it has a lot in common with my previous books: They all feature resourceful girl protagonists, a strong sense of place, a lot of diligent research during the writing process—although in this case I was researching science instead of history, and they represent the kind of books that I most loved as a young reader: historical fiction and realistic survival/adventure fiction (favorites were Hatchet, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Flight 116 Is Down, My Side of the Mountain).
Reviewers so far have called The Disaster Days “riveting,” “tension-filled,” and “epic,” and I hope readers will race to find out what happens to Hannah, Zoe, and Oscar! But at its heart, this story is about empowerment: a determined, quietly brave girl overcoming obstacles both ordinary and extraordinary, and resolving to try her best, even in extreme circumstances.
Also, there’s a really cute guinea pig.
PS: Natural disasters and their aftermath are a big part of this book—and I hope it sparks discussion in classrooms and families! In the Resources section of my website, you can download an educator’s guide, a book-club discussion guide, and a family discussion card to help guide your conversations.

Two new glowing reviews for THE DISASTER DAYS!

I’m excited to share two more trade reviews for The Disaster Days:

“Fans of survival thrillers in the vein of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet will enjoy this tense, honest tale of bravery. . . . [A]n excellent (and refreshingly not didactic) teaching tool on natural-disaster preparedness.” Eleanor Roth, Booklist

Last February, I recorded an episode of the Dream Gardens podcast in which I talked about how much I loved Hatchet as a young reader–and how much I enjoyed rereading it as an adult. So I’m really thrilled that Booklist compared Hannah’s story to a classic that is a personal favorite. 🙂

“The relentless progression of a variety of disaster scenarios will keep readers turning pages even as they learn, along with Hannah, vital information about earthquake safety and survival. Equally suspenseful and informative, this novel will spark important discussions about disaster preparedness.” Jenna MacKay, School Library Connection

Just four weeks till The Disaster Days hits shelves and stores!

A first for The Last Grand Adventure

I’m thrilled to share that The Last Grand Adventure is a 2019 WILLA Literary Award Finalist in Children’s Fiction and Nonfiction. While writing Bea and Pidge’s story, I hoped their journey would celebrate the beauty and rich culture of the parts of the West they traveled through, from Orange County to Atchison, Kansas. It’s deeply meaningful to receive this honor and know that I succeeded in capturing the setting that so inspired me!

About the award: The WILLA Literary Awards honors the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West that are published each year. Women Writing the West (WWW), a non-profit association of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women’s West, underwrites and presents the nationally recognized award annually at the WWW Fall Conference. The award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, one of the country’s foremost novelists.

For more information and to see the other winners and finalists, visit Women Writing the West.


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