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5 Books About Shipwrecks + Free Display Poster

We’re looking at books about shipwrecks today! I’ve come across a few articles about newly-found shipwrecks lately, and I’ve linked more at the bottom of this post. One that I particularly liked is about a father and daughter who recently discovered a shipwreck on Lake Michigan while out fishing.

THE NEWS STORY:

In the summer of 2023, a father and his six-year old daughter were fishing on Lake Michigan. The boat’s sonar picked up something different on the lake floor. Turns out, they discovered a shipwreck from 1871!

Experts believe the shipwreck is the George L. Newman, a ship that ran aground during the Great Peshtigo Fire 150 years ago. While the fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin itself was very deadly, all the crew survived the George L. Newman shipwreck. The ship had run aground due to low visibility from smoke from the fire.

Interestingly, the Great Peshtigo Fire started the same day as the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

I love this shipwreck story for kids because, in this case, a lighthouse keeper rescued the crew. We so often talk about Titanic in schools, but Titanic was a horrific disaster with many deaths. This is a much gentler story since all the crew members survived. I also love that this shipwreck was found by a normal father and young daughter out fishing.

You can read more about this story here.

BEYOND TITANIC

Shipwrecks are such an interesting topic for kids and teens, but so many of them only know about Titanic and not the huge number of shipwrecks around the world.

Share these shipwreck facts with your students:

  • There are over 3 million shipwrecks around the world. Many of them are small, such as fishing boats. (source)
  • Shipwrecks can pose hazards to other ships and to marine life. (source)
  • Some ships are sunk on purpose! This may be to stimulate reef growth or create a place to train divers. (source)
  • Titanic rests in the bathypelagic ocean zone, also known as the midnight zone. (source)
This poster is available in my Shared Google Drive (not editable) and in Canva (editable).
Click to enlarge

Want to use the “Shipwrecks” display poster above? Download it here:

FIVE BOOKS ABOUT SHIPWRECKS

Get your shipwrecks display started with these 5 books! All the following titles received at least two positive professional reviews on Titlewave. For this list, all five books also received starred professional reviews, as noted.

 

Historical Fiction
Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Published: 2 Feb 2016

Genre: historical fiction

Setting: January, 1945; Prussia and Poland

Recommended for: Grades 7-12

Themes: alternating viewpoints, WWII, Nazi Germany, Wilhelm Gustloff, shipwrecks, maritime disasters, Jewish evacuations, Holocaust, historical events, refugees

Protagonist: 4 protagonists - 1 female refugee, young Lithuanian nurse; 1 young male refugee, Prussian; 1 pregnant Polish teen refugee; 1 young male, German Nazi

Starred reviews: Library Journal, Booklist, SLJ, Publishers Weekly

Pages400


See it on Amazon

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Adventure
Wrecker

Author: Carl Hiaasen

Publication Date: 26 Sep 2023

Genre: adventure, thriller, ecofiction

Setting: Key West, Florida, USA

Recommended for: Grades 5-9

Themes: salvaging shipwrecks, crime, smuggling, COVID-19, environmental degradation, conservation, cemeteries, tourism industry

Protagonist: male, age 15, biracial

Starred reviews: Booklist

Pages336


See it on Amazon

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

Valdez Jones VIII calls himself Wrecker because his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather salvaged shipwrecks for a living.

So is it destiny, irony, or just bad luck when Wrecker comes across a speedboat that has run hard aground on a sand flat? The men in the boat don’t want Wrecker to call for help—in fact, they’ll pay him to forget he ever saw them.

Wrecker would be happy to forget, but he keeps seeing these men all over Key West—at the marina, in the cemetery, even right outside his own door. And now they want more than his silence—they want a lookout.

He’ll have to dive deep into their shady dealings to figure out a way to escape this tangled net…

STEM Nonfiction
Shipwrecked!

Author: Martin W. Sandler

Publication Date: 31 Oct 2023

Genre: nonfiction, STEM

Setting: deep oceans around the world, including off the coasts of Turkey, South Korea, and South Africa

Recommended for: Grades 5-8

Themes: shipwrecks, ocean, marine science, technology, exploration, marine archaeology, diving, Korean haenyeo divers, slave ships, warships

Protagonist: multiple diverse scientists and divers; includes men and women

Starred reviews: SLJ

Pages144


See it on Amazon

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

Most of the world’s ocean floor remains to be discovered. In fact, it’s estimated to be home to over 3 million sunken vessels and countless treasures of the past.

This enthralling and adventure-filled nonfiction book for young readers recounts some of the most captivating shipwrecks from history, ranging from the Shinan, a Chinese merchant ship laden with riches from the 14th century, to the HMS Erebus and Terror, two polar exploration ships that mysteriously disappeared in the early 1800s.

Combining new research, stunning archival material, and vivid storytelling, Shipwrecked! dives deep into the world of marine archaeology and shows young readers what each discovery reveals about the world before our time.

Historical Fiction
Iceberg

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publication Date: 7 Mar 2023

Genre: historical fiction, adventure, survival

Setting: onboard the RMS Titanic, April 1912

Recommended for: Grades 3-8

Themes: Titanic, famous shipwrecks, maritime disasters, sweatshops, poverty, stowaways, social class, privilege, journalism, immigrants

Protagonist: female, age 12, white, British

Starred reviews: School Library Connection

Pages: 352

Notes: Includes primary source photographs, articles, and documents throughout


See it on Amazon

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

Hazel Rothbury is traveling all alone from her home in England aboard the celebrated ship Titanic. Following the untimely death of her father, Hazel’s mother is sending her to the US to work in a factory, so that she might send money back home to help her family make ends meet.

But Hazel harbors a secret dream: She wants to be a journalist, and she just knows that if she can write and sell a story about the Titanic‘s maiden voyage, she could earn enough money to support her family and not have to go to a sweatshop. When Hazel discovers that mother didn’t send her with enough money for a ticket, she decides she must stow away onboard the storied ship.

With the help of a porter named Charlie and a sweet first-class passenger named Sylvia, Hazel explores the opulent ship in secret, but a haunting mystery quickly finds her. The danger only intensifies when calamity strikes, and readers will be caught up in the terror and suspense alongside Hazel as she fights to save her friends and herself.

Historical Fiction
Luck of the Titanic

Author: Stacey Lee

Publication Date: 4 May 2021

Genre: picture book

Setting: onboard the RMS Titanic, April 1912

Recommended for: Grades 7-12

Themes: immigration, Titanic, Chinese Exclusion Act, circus performers, stowaways, shipwrecks, world history, discrimination, siblings, twins, survival

Protagonist: female, age 17, Chinese and British, acrobat, twin

Starred reviews: Kirkus, Booklist, SLJ, and Publishers Weekly

Pages384


See it on Amazon

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren’t allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.

More Articles about recent shipwreck discoveries

More “5 Books” lists + display posters

This is a list of 5 YA space operas, plus a free library display poster.   This is a list of five books about woolly mammothsfor kids. It also has a free downloadable display poster for school libraries.    This is a list of five books about Antarctica for kids and teens.

 

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