Today we’re sharing another post in our interview series where we talk to the creators behind some of our favorite products.
We were lucky enough to chat with Heather Beal, the author behind the Mom’s Choice Award-winning children’s safety books, Tummy Rumble Quake and Elephant Wind. Heather Beal is a military veteran with 23 years of crisis management and operational planning experience that she draws upon daily in her battle to raise two well-prepared, happy, curious, and intelligent children. As a trained emergency manager and parent, she saw the need to provide age-appropriate disaster preparedness information to young children in a way that empowered rather than frightened them. She is currently writing additional books to cover a greater spectrum of potential disasters children may face.
MCA: Tummy Rumble Quake & Elephant Wind are educational picture books that help teach children what to do in case of a disaster in a way that empowers rather than frightens them. Can you tell us your inspiration for writing these books?
Heather Beal: I have young children and realized one night as I tried to explain a tornado watch to my daughter that there had to be a way to talk about potentially bad things without scaring her. (I failed miserably that night). But I learned from that, and my first book Elephant Wind is proof of that.
Our children do fire drills in childcare, and learn about safety issues like crossing the street safely, stranger danger, not playing with matches, etc. all the time. We should also make other possible dangers like tornados, earthquakes, floods, etc. part of what they “know” and how to safe part of what they “do.”
“Just imagine what our children could do if they started learning about this at 3.” – Heather Beal
MCA: Those can be very scary experiences for both children and adults. Having this guide can certainly help calm a stressful situation. There is a national movement called The Great ShakeOut coming up soon. Can you tell us a bit about what that is?
Heather Beal: The Great ShakeOut is a national movement that takes place on October 19th this year to help people be prepared for earthquakes. At 10:19 on the given day, all participants act like an earthquake is happening and practice the three safety steps of drop, cover, and hold on. It’s designed to increase earthquake and earthquake safety awareness. That was my motivation to get Tummy Rumble Quake out early fall so that children and their care givers would have it before the Great ShakeOut.
MCA: Well, congratulations on getting your book out! I am sure others share my appreciation for having that resource available to prepare children for such disasters. Where can we find your books?
Heather Beal: Both Elephant Wind and Tummy Rumble Quake are on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and a variety of other online distributors. There are paperback, hardback and Kindle versions available.
MCA: Great! And I know our online store links directly to your books on Amazon for anyone that is having trouble finding them. In addition to publishing such books, you created a non-profit that also helps prepare children for disasters. I have been seeing a lot of posts about it on your social media. Can you tell us more about it?
Heather Beal: BLOCKS stands for Building Links between Offices of emergency management, Childcare, and the community for Kids Safety. We offer disaster readiness certification and training for childcare. Recently we have gotten funding to use the books to conduct story-time earthquake safety training with local childcare organizations here in Washington. The children get to learn about what to do to be safe and take home a book mark with a song (from the book) about what to do and the childcare gets a free copy of the book. We hope to expand the program across the state and eventually nationally, covering other disasters as we do.
MCA: Congratulations on your success with that! I think every childcare facility can benefit from that training and incorporating the books is a great way to get people engaged. Do you have any other advice for parents and educators trying to teach children the importance of safety during such events?
Heather Beal: I think too often we don’t talk about things like this because it could be scary. I understand and agree it could be, but there are so many instances where we have seen the value of being prepared. Fire drills are a perfect example. Kids know what to do; its part of their culture. Another great example is found in the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. A British schoolgirl remembered a geography lesson about earthquakes and what receding water meant. She got her family and others around her to go to higher ground. She saved lives. Just imagine what our children could do if they started learning about this at 3.
MCA: Considering recent events I think we can all agree that there is value in being prepared for such disasters and that includes both adults and children! If you are in the Washington area this weekend be sure to check out Heather’s book reading of Tummy Rumble Quake at the Barnes & Noble in Silverdale, Washington.
Thanks to Heather Beal for taking the time to chat with us! You can visit her website here.