The City is Afire! Books for Kids

The Great Fire at Chicago, opens a new window by Library of Congress, opens a new window / Public Domain / Cropped

The city is afire! That's the phrase you would have heard over and over if you lived in Chicago on the night of October 8, 1871. Can you imagine living in Chicago 150 years ago? Your neighborhood would have looked dramatically different back then, with almost everything built from wood. I had fun taking a trip back into the past with these stories about different folks, including kids, who survived one of the most famous fires in history. Check out these titles as our city honors the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire.

Fiery Night is the story of Justin, his pet goat Willie and how his family escaped the Great Chicago Fire. I love this picture book with its detailed map and vibrant illustrations. Be sure to check out Justin's drawing of his family including his pet goat, Willie!

Living in Chicago as a newcomer, Emmi is still homesick for Germany especially with constantly dealing with the not-so-friendly immigrant Irish kids in the neighborhood. But when the fire threatens to burn up the whole city, Emmi, Seamus and Cara manage to put aside their differences. Join this trio in Emmi in the City which turns into an adventure of a lifetime.

Follow the harrowing true tales of Chicagoans who braved and survived the Great Fire including thirteen-year-old Bessie Bradwell whose family lived on the South Side in The Great Chicago Fire. Despite all that was lost, in the end, it was written, "All is not lost," and that Chicago would be rebuilt. We are living proof of that 150 years later.

History buffs will want to visit the new exhibit City on Fire opening on October 8 at the Chicago History Museum. For a virtual tour of the Great Fire, check out Touring the Fire created by the Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University.

For more titles, check out these staff-recommended titles for kids and teens.