For the reader who loves the I Survived series

Deimosa Webber-Bey  //  Mar 21, 2018

For the reader who loves the I Survived series

One of the FAQ’s that I get as a librarian is for an I Survived read-alike recommendation. There are really two versions of this question; the first means coming up with a read-alike in the same age range, grade and/or reading level as the I Survived series, by Lauren Tarshis, and the second probably means finding a read-alike for an adolescent or teenager. Let's say I am being rushed to answer:

  • What do you recommend for someone who enjoys and is reading/just read the I Survived series? Refugee by Alan Gratz; it is sooo good! Each chapter switches perspective between the narrators, leaving the reader in anticipation, and the stories are set in the 1940s, the 1990s, and the present day. This book made me cry in a good way.

However, not all I Survived fans are the same! There are a lot of different reasons the series appeals to young readers: it has action and adventure, the world building immerses you in history, the main characters are in dire situations, and kids use their wits to succeed. Each of these aspects of I Survived offer different a direction to go with read-alike recommendations.

If your reader is in the middle of or all caught up on I Survived, I would recommend a nonfiction and/or adventure series that allows them to explore history:

  • The Missing by Margaret Peterson Haddix: famous children have been kidnapped from - and need to be returned to - different places and moments in time (8 books)

  • Ranger in Time by Kate Messner: features a time-traveling golden retriever (7 books so far) in settings like Ancient Rome and the Oregon Trail

  • Cornerstones of Freedom: with 50+ books in this nonfiction series, topics like the Salem witch trials, the Panama canal, Tiananmen Square, and the space race are included

  • A Wicked History™: over a dozen biographies that illustrate the details of people whose impact on history is undeniable, such as Ivan the Terrible or Idi Amin

If this I Survived fan is an adolescent or teenager, I might suggest a few standalone novels about extreme situations:

  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: a plane full of teen beauty contestants crashes on a deserted island... (or is it?!)

  • A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer: 11 year old Nhamo runs away from Mozambique to Zimbabwe, and spends nearly a year alone fending for herself

  • Trapped, one of my favorites by Michael Northrup: a group of teens miss the last bus and are therefore trapped at school during a blizzard

  • The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean: winner of the Printz award and set in Antarctica, Sym’s dream trip becomes a struggle to survive the South Pole

As you can tell, and I realized as I put this post together, I am actually really into survival stories! They feed my interest in dystopian science fiction, and so my last two recommendations are for series set in the near future, where the world we know turns into something familiar, but forever changed:

  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer: a meteor knocks the moon out of orbit (first in a quartet and possibly my favorite modern middle grade epistolary novel)

  • Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy: appeals to a teen reader that likes being immersed in a ‘historical’ world - like that of a second American civil war (first in a trilogy)

I could go on forever! Once I really get going with readers advisory it takes me a while to surface; one book reminds me of another, and an hour later I’ve pulled over a dozen books off of the library shelves and added an equal number to my own to-read list.

So many books, so little time!

What would you recommend to someone who loves the I Survived series?