The Real-Life Story of Night of the Twisters

The Real-Life Story of Night of the Twisters

Night of the Twisters is the semi-fictionalized novel based on the tornado outbreak in Grand Island, NE in June 1980. The story by Ivy Ruckman published in 1984, is written from the point of view of 12-year-old  Dan Hatch, who – after his home and neighborhood are destroyed by one of the tornadoes – begins a search for his parents as more tornadoes roll through the area. This is a nail-biting book to use for a novel study, literature circles, book clubs, or individual study in the classroom or home school to hook even the most reluctant of readers.



Night of the Twisters has been honored with several awards over the years including the Golden Sower Award, the Iowa Children’s Choice Award, and the Sequoyah Children’s Book Award. This novel has also been honored with the Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children recommendation by the National Science Teachers Association and Children’s Book Council.

Summary of Night of the Twisters:

*From the book jacket

When a tornado watch is issued on a Tuesday evening in June, 12-year-old Dan Hatch and his best friend, Arthur, don’t think much of it.  After all, tornado warnings are a way of life during the summer in Grand Island, Nebraska. But soon enough, the wind begins to howl, and the lights and telephone stop working. Then the emergency siren starts to wail.  

Dan, his baby brother, and Arthur have only seconds to get to the basement before the monstrous twister is on top of them. Little do they know that even if they do survive the storm, their ordeal will have only just begun…

Peak tornado season is March through June so this is a great time to bring this story into your classroom. This book is exciting and hooks reluctant readers with the graphic details of this real-life event.

To be able to tie this story to a real-life event draws student interest in. This event, consisting of 7 tornadoes that touched down that evening in, or near, Grand Island was arguably an unparalleled event in meteorological history. It is likely that never before, or since, have this many slow-moving, damaging and deadly tornadoes affected such a small, but populated geographic area for such a long time-span of 2 hours and 45 minutes…

You can read more about this weather phenomenon from the National Weather Service and The Real Night of the Twisters.

This opens up avenues to tie your reading/language art to science instruction. Not to mention the inevitable discussions that will develop about “what would you do if…”


See what people are saying about the Night of the Twisters Novel Study by The Teaching Bank!

Try a free sample of the novel study for Night of the Twisters 


Night of the Twister is a fast-paced, nail-biter story that your students will not want to put down!

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Night of the Twisters for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.

You can purchase this novel study at the following locations:

Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

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