Inside: Celebrate our heroes with these children’s books about firefighters! Perfect for preschoolers and kindergarten kids who love firefighters and fire trucks.
Vendome Firefighters Memorial is on Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay Boston near the intersection of Dartmouth Street. I have passed by it many times on my way to my office without knowing what happened.
Someone on my Instagram talked about it when I posted photos of the Boston Women’s Memorial and I wanted to learn more.
On the 25th anniversary of the Vendome fire, June 17, 1997, this monument was dedicated in memory of the firefighters killed in the Hotel Vendome, a few yards from the site of this memorial. The cause of the original fire was not known. The collapse of the building was attributed to the failure of an overloaded seven-inch steel column whose support had been weakened when a new duct had been cut beneath it, triggered by the weight of the firefighters and their equipment on the upper floors.
The Hotel Vendome fire was the worst firefighting tragedy in Boston’s history. The nine men killed were:
- Firefighter Thomas W. Beckwith
- Firefighter Joseph F. Boucher
- Lieutenant Thomas J. Carroll
- Firefighter Charles E. Dolan
- Lieutenant John E. Hanbury Jr.
- Firefighter John E. Jameson
- Firefighter Richard B. Magee
- Firefighter Paul J. Murphy
- Firefighter Joseph P. Saniuk
International Firefighter Day is May 4th. It was instituted after a proposal was emailed out across the world on January 4, 1999, due to the deaths of five firefighters in tragic circumstances in a bushfire in Australia.
How about you? Do you have any firefighter monuments where you live that you only recently noticed like me? Do you have any favorite children’s books on firefighters? Thanks for sharing!
13 Children’s Books About Firefighters
Maisy’s Fire Engine by Lucy Cousins
Shaped like a cut-out fire engine, this charming board book features Maisy and her friend Cyril on a rescue mission for a little cat stuck on a roof. [board book, ages 1 and up]
This is a Firefighter by Laura Godwin, illustrated by Julian Hector
It’s a typical day at the firehouse until the bell goes off, and the firefighters jump into action to put out a large fire in a building not so different from Hotel Vendome. Their bravery includes entering the burning building to save people as well as rescuing people who can not get out.
Told in rhyming prose, young readers get a sense of what it is like to be a firefighter. [board book, ages 2 and up]
My Mom is a Firefighter by Lois G. Grambling, illustrated by Jane Manning
95.4% of Firefighters are Male, making them the more common gender in the occupation. From DataUSA
It wasn’t that long ago that women were discouraged from becoming firefighters. Where I live near Boston, there are only sixteen female firefighters. In this picture book, Billy’s mom is a firefighter and she has her family at home and her family at the firehouse.
Both are raising Billy, and both are inspiring to become a firefighter too. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Fireman Small by Wong Herbert Yee
Told in rhyming verse, Fireman Small is at the firehouse tucked into bed when the alarm goes off. It’s time to rescue a cat in a tree. Fireman Small returns to bed only to rush out to rescue a bunny in a well. There is one final rescue for the night and it’s a big fire.
Fireman Small returns to bed only to find people at the door of the firehouse. It’s all the thankful rescues! This is a charming picture book about everyday heroes with whimsical illustrations. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Little Fire Engine by Lois Lenski
85% of Firefighters are White, making that the most common race or ethnicity in the occupation. Representing 7.77% of Firefighters, Black is the second most common race or ethnicity in this occupation. From DataUSA
Here’s another Fireman Small in this classic picture book by Lois Lenski. She breaks down the different functions of the fire engine, and gives a detailed account of the fireman on the job rescuing people stuck in a house that is on fire.
Published in 1946, this book depicts an all-white male firefighter force, something that hasn’t changed much. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Fire Chief Fran by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Finally, here is a firefighter picture book with diverse representation! In this small town, Fire Chief Fran leads her firefighters through a multitude of emergencies, from puppy rescues to brush fires and house fires, her team leaps into action. This book also shows the downtime between emergencies when the firefighters train with weights, cook meals, and take care of their trucks and equipment. This is the most realistic of all the firefighter books, and the only one to show a female Black fire chief! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Firefighters to the Rescue! by R. W. Alley
This book gives me Richard Scarry vibes in the best possible way! I discovered it through an author interview on Nerdy Book Club. [picture book, ages 3 and up]
I’m a Firefighter by Mary Packard, illustrated by Julie Durrell
A little boy plays “firefighter” with his toy set, but then he grabs the hose and starts to spray down a “fire.” Oops, it’s just Dad at the BBQ! With very simple words, this easy reader still delivers a humorous story! [easy reader, ages 6 and up]
Richard Scarry’s characters are featured in this easy reader-themed around firefighters and pie. Smokey the Fireman and Katey Kitty have back-to-back adventures. [easy reader, ages 6 and up]
Marley: Firehouse Dog by Caitlin Birch (based on the bestselling books by John Grogan), illustrated by Lydia Halverson
Marley the puppy gets into mischief at the firehouse while his human family is taking a tour. Even though he wreaks havoc with his exploration, he is still awarded the honorary title of firedog mascot. [easy reader, ages 6 and up]
They Hold the Line: Wildfires, Wildlands, and the Firefighters Who Brave Them by Dan Paley, illustrated by Molly Mendoza
This is probably the most dangerous of all firefighter jobs; those who fight wildfires. Smokejumpers jump out of a plane to land by parachute to go where they are needed. For large wildfires, they can be on the job for weeks or months near the fire site. Because the fires can shift direction suddenly, this is extremely dangerous to both firefighters and wildlife. This book does a terrific job of explaining all aspects of those involved in fighting fires in the wild. [nonfiction picture book, ages 7 and up]
Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield, illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young
Minnie and Tessa are unlikely friends because it isn’t easy for an Italian American Catholic girl and a Jewish girl to be friends in 1911. But they are both fourteen years old and sit side by side working as sewing operators in a factory with dangerous working conditions.
When a big fire breaks out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, their friendship, and quick thinking save them from perishing in the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Ever since her parents died in a house fire, Addy has always had an escape plan. Maps are her friends but when she goes to a summer wilderness program for inner-city Black kids, her map skills can’t compute this new terrain. Leo, the camp creator, teaches her how to create topological maps. Addy makes new friends at camp and they all learn new outdoor skills including how to put out a fire. Climate change has decreased the rainfall, making the forest fire season longer and more deadly. When they are all on a camping trip, Addy’s worst fear comes true. A raging fire comes their way. Will Addy be able to use her map skills to lead them out of danger? [middle grade, ages 10 and up]
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Book Lists to Teach Kids Something Specific
Do you need books on a particular topic for your kids? The lists here include:
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