Three Titanic Books

  • McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino. Iceberg Right Ahead! The Sinking of the Titanic.  2011. 112pp.  Lexile: 1070.
  • Hopkinson, Deborah. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. 2012. 275pp.  Lexile: 1040.
  • Denenberg, Barry. Titanic Sinks!  2011. 72pp. 
Students can learn about different approaches to a factual subject by comparing different nonfiction books on the same topic.  The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic offers an excellent opportunity to do so, comparing three books with different approaches and overlapping but not identical information and photographs.  The McPherson book is the most traditional, a solid narrative about the causes and aftermath as well as the tragedy itself, drawing on primary sources; it has plentiful photographs and useful back matter. The Hopkinson book emphasizes primary sources, weaving in multiple quotes from different people who survived and left records of their experiences.  This gives the book a personal feel without fictionalizing.  Denenberg takes more liberties, creating a narrator, S.F. Vannie, who serves as a correspondent for the fictional Modern Times.  The content is otherwise factual.  The book design echoes magazine format with excellent visual elements including photographs, posters, memorabilia, and ads.

Reading Std #9 for grades 6-8: Compare/contrast texts on similar themes or topics.  Compare McPherson’s straightforward approach with the greater inclusion of primary sources by Hopkinson and the magazine format with slight fictionalization by Denenberg.