Literature Connections to
Plate Tectonics

Teacher's Guides > Plate Tectonics

8.4
Dear Katie, The Volcano Is a Girl
Earthquake at Dawn
Hill of Fire
How To Dig A Hole to the Other Side of the World
Magic Dogs of the Volcanoes
The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth
Paperquake
Paul’s Volcano
Quake! A Novel
Richter 10
The Volcano Disaster
Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens

8.4
by Peter Hernon
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, NY
(1999; 480 pp.)
Grades 6–Adult
A young adult thriller/survival story about the New Madrid Fault Zone in the Mississippi Valley. After two major quakes devastate the area, seismologists John Atkins and Elizabeth Holleran work together to try to prevent more damage from "The Big One." The story is filled with facts about geology, tectonics, and physics.

Dear Katie, The Volcano Is a Girl
by Jean Craighead George;
illustrated by Daniel Powers
Hyperion Books for Children, New York, NY
(1998; 32 pp.)
Grades 1–5
When Katie and her grandmother visit the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, they argue over whether the volcano is a geophysical phenomenon or an angry Hawaiian goddess. Grandmother describes the scientific principles behind volcanic eruptions while Katie tells the Hawaii mythology of the goddess Pele and her role in creating the islands and the volcano. In the end they realize they’re both right. While intended for a younger audience, this book can be useful for its insight into explanations cultures create to explain natural events.

Earthquake at Dawn
by Kristiana Gregory
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, San Diego, CA
(1992; 192 pp.)
Grades 5–9
A fictionalized account of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake based on a letter written by earthquake survivor Mary Exa Atkins Campbell and pictures taken by Edith Irvine. The story is told through fifteen-year-old Daisy, a fictitious traveling companion to Edith, as they watch the drama unfold from a boat in the bay.

Hill of Fire
by Thomas P. Lewis;
illustrated by Joan Sandin
HarperCollins, New York, NY
(1971; 63 pp.)
Grades 2–5
A Mexican villager plowing a field opened up a crack in the Earth that erupted within days into a new volcano, Paricutin. The power of the volcano and the impact of change are strongly conveyed. The actual 1943 event is described in a historical note. This was only the second time in recorded history that the birth of a volcano has been directly witnessed by humans. While told in simple language, the story is still appropriate for older students.

How To Dig A Hole to the Other Side of the World
by Faith McNulty;
illustrated by Marc Simont
HarperCollins, New York, NY
(1990; 32 pp.)
Grades K–8
A child takes an imaginary 8,000-mile journey through the Earth and discovers what’s inside. As he passes through the Earth’s crust, then the mantle, and into the core, the book describes the structure of the Earth, the heat energy stored in the center of the Earth, and how far the boy has come and how far he has to go. The reader gains information about the composition of each layer, connections to magma and geysers, and an awesome appreciation of the size of the Earth.

Magic Dogs of the Volcanoes
by Manlio Argueta;
illustrated by Elly Simmons;
English translation by Stacey Ross
Children’s Book Press, San Francisco, CA
(1990; 31 pp.)
Grades 1–4
When the traditional magic dogs who live on top of ancient volcanoes and protect the people of El Salvador are pursued by lead soldiers, the volcanoes play a trick. The male volcano fans himself with his steam hat, making the Earth hot. The female volcano shakes her dress made of water and makes the soldiers wet so they sizzle and melt. This is an imaginative, multicultural extension to the activities in Plate Tectonics.

The Magic School Bus Inside the Earth
by Joanna Cole;
illustrated by Bruce Degen
Scholastic, New York, NY
(1987; 56 pp.)
Grades K–6
On a special field trip to the center of the Earth, Ms. Frizzle’s class learns firsthand about different kinds of rocks and the formation of the Earth and its structure. Although intended for a young audience, reading this book would be a good way for students to learn more about the different geological layers and forces at work inside the Earth. Also useful is The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor (1992) for its mention of hot water vents deep under the ocean.

Paperquake
by Kathryn Reiss
Harcourt Brace, San Diego, CA
(1998; 264 pp.)
Grades 5–8
In this interesting blend of mystery and time travel, eighth-grader Violet, a triplet, feels very different from her sisters. In their Victorian home, Violet discovers old letters and a diary from the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The letters and diary entries, though obviously written in the past, seem to refer to her and incidents in her life. She gradually concludes that she is being sent mysterious messages from the past about how to prevent a tragedy in the future. By closing the gap in the space-time continuum, Violet cleverly prevents disaster just as the Earth’s plates shift to close its gaps.

Paul’s Volcano
by Beatrice Gormley;
illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA
(1987; 143 pp.)
Grades 5–8
When Adam and Robbie see Paul’s science fair project, a model of a volcano (complete with smoke and eruption sound track), they decide that it must become the symbol of their new club. The "Vulcans" conduct rituals with the model volcano, chanting their password "Magma, Magma" as they prepare to march in the July 4th parade. But mysterious, dangerous forces seem to be at work. What begins as a playful imitation of legends about people sacrificed to volcanoes turns into a series of unexplained and bizarre events, fear, and a final conflagration. Qualities of leadership and the meaning of accomplishment are explored as the strange events surge like lava down a mountainside. There is some scientific information throughout, including a description of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. In the end, the spirit of friendship triumphs over the evil genie of the volcano.

Quake! A Novel
by Joe Cottonwood
Scholastic, New York, NY
(1995; 146 pp.)
Grades 5–8
With their parents away at the 1989 World Series in San Francisco, fourteen-year-old Franny, her younger brother, and Franny’s friend Jennie try to cope with the frightening events following an earthquake that destroys their home on Loma Prieta mountain. In the aftermath of the quake, Franny and Jennie prove to be heroes as they help their neighbors. The book emphasizes earthquake preparedness.

Richter 10
by Arthur C. Clarke and Mike McQuay
Bantam Books, New York, NY
(1996; 384 pp.)
Grades 5–Adult
Set in the near future, this is the story of Lewis Crane, a brilliant seismologist who has developed a unique theory of quake prediction. He predicts a large earthquake in the Mississippi Valley, but miscalculates the event. He must then convince a skeptical public that an even larger magnitude quake (a Richter 10) is due within months. Crane eventually wants to prevent all earthquakes by fusing the Earth’s tectonic plates. An action packed, science fiction thriller full of plot twists and complete with seismic geology.

The Volcano Disaster
by Peg Kehret
Pocket Books, New York, NY
(1998; 135 pp.)
Grades 3–7
After discovering his grandfather’s invention—the Instant Commuter—twelve-year-old Warren is accidentally transported back in time to Mount St. Helens just moments before its eruption in 1980. A friend Betsy follows him and the two are caught in the thick ash, frightening lightning, and earthquakes that accompany the eruption. The book provides detailed descriptions of what it would be like to be in the middle of the eruption as well as facts about volcanoes.

Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens
by Patricia Lauber
Bradbury Press, New York, NY
(1986; 60 pp.)
Grades 4–7
Photographic account of how and why Mount St. Helens erupted in May 1980 and the destruction it caused. Two chapters discuss the survivors and colonizers, and the plant and animal life that returned to the area. In Chapter 5 dormant volcanoes and their mechanics are explained with a positive look at the creative effects of an eruption. Chapter 5 also includes a good basic introduction to the key topic of plate tectonics.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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