The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin

The Children's BlizzardPublished: 2004

Genre: U.S. nonfiction history

Length: 271 pages of story, 307 with indices

Setting: Midwest, 1888

Interest: I can’t remember how I became aware of the book, but the story sounded quite interesting.

Summary: The book discusses the fledgling weather forecasting service, specifically in regards to its failure to prevent significant loss of life from a blizzard that swept through the Midwest on January 13th, 1888. We follow several immigrant families from Europe to the Dakotas and see some of the difficulties they faced getting to the New World and farming there. Drought, blizzards, and grasshoppers were common natural disasters. Everything came together in January of 1888 when a very strong cold front got pushed down the central U.S., dropping temperatures 30 degrees over an hour. It caught many kids in school with young, inexperienced teachers. They were faced with the dilemma of sending kids home in driving powdered snow or staying in school with no food and minimal fuel. Some made it to shelter, while some did not. Anyone who wasn’t at home with good fuel supplies was in danger of freezing during this blizzard, whether getting lost getting fuel or  even within their houses.

Final thoughts: An interesting story, although I did put it aside a couple of times. It got a little grim at times and at little boring at others, but I always went back to the story. Reading about the pioneers’ lives on the prairie and how the weather service got started was interesting.

Title comes from: So many children died coming home from school, the pres nicknamed the blizzard the Children’s Blizzard.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 60/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, 11/14 in the Nerdy Nonfiction Challenge for history, which I will claim as a seventh topic.


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