Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Children's Blizzard” as Want to Read:
The Children's Blizzard
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Children's Blizzard

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  927 ratings  ·  330 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife reveals a little-known story of courage on the prairie: the freak blizzard that struck the Great Plains, threatening the lives of hundreds of immigrant homesteaders--especially their children.

The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a long cold spell, warm enough for the homesteaders of the D
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 12th 2021 by Delacorte Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Children's Blizzard, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Melanie Benjamin Hi! My historical novel, THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD, is based on the actual Children's Blizzard of 1888. The David Laskin book is an excellent nonfiction…moreHi! My historical novel, THE CHILDREN'S BLIZZARD, is based on the actual Children's Blizzard of 1888. The David Laskin book is an excellent nonfiction history of the same event. Mine, being a novel, has fictionalized characters whose lives are changed by this devastating blizzard, although some of those characters are based on actual oral histories of those involved. In short, mine is a fictionalized story about many different people whose lives are changed forever by this actual disaster. (less)
Melanie Benjamin Hi! I'm happy to answer this but Dawn pretty much said it - you can't copyright a title, so there are books with the same title out there. In this cas…moreHi! I'm happy to answer this but Dawn pretty much said it - you can't copyright a title, so there are books with the same title out there. In this case, we thought it was perfect for the book because it is the actual name of this event. The David Laskin nonfiction book - which is excellent and I mention it in the Author Note at the end of my novel - has that title, too. But it came out about 15 years ago, so my publisher and I felt we could use this title as well for my novel and there wouldn't be too much confusion. And also, to reiterate - mine is a novel, with invented characters. The Laskin book is nonfiction. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  927 ratings  ·  330 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Children's Blizzard
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

The Children's Blizzard is a historical novel that deals with a real time in history known as the Schoolhouse Blizzard, due to the number of children that perish during this tragic storm. The time is January 12, 1888 and the blizzard covers the eastern United States and Canada. This story concerns fictional characters, families who homestead the Dakota territory, and a newsman who feels great guilt for his stories that enticed so many people to leave th
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

This book reminded me of why I love historical fiction!! Woven into this story are real facts about the prairie. Not just the time of the blizzard but day after day life and what these settlers faced.

Immigrants were lured to the land with the promise of 160 acres of land if they settled it for 5 years. Many immigrants were looking for a fresh start, lured by advertising pamphlets that promised so much. “Come to Nebraska, the Garden of Eden!. Acres for the
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Come to Nebraska...acres for the taking as per the Homestead Act of 1862. "...-one hundred and sixty of these heavenly acres for only a small filing fee. In five years, those acres will be yours...". "...every pamphlet filled with lies about the land and its opportunities...they came on boats, on trains...the poor, the disenfranchised, the seekers, the dreamers...pack[ing] themselves tightly into [train]cars...immigrants from across the sea...from the cities...they came full of promise. They cam ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
***On January 12, 1888, 235 people were killed by "The Children's Blizzard” that swept across the Northwest Plains. It is estimated that temperatures plunged to 40 degrees below zero in most parts of North Dakota. Most of the dead were children who died attempting to get home after school. - facts taken from Wikipedia and The History Channel websites.

**This book is based upon the oral histories of survivors.

The morning of January 12, 1888, began as a mild day after a long period of cold weather.
Based on a little-known blizzard that struck the Great Plains on January 12th, 1888. “The storm hit at precisely the wrong time here in northeastern Nebraska, southeastern Dakota. (…) It hit right when most schools were about to disgorge its pupils for the day, or just had.”

Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman in Omaha, “writes for the state’s boosters and railroad investors, advertising Nebraska as the Garden of Eden, something it was not. To sell all these acres, recently won from the Indians, to rub

Come to Nebraska, the Garden of Eden!

With promises of a better life, people came in waves from across the seas and across the land, toting what meager possessions they could manage, their hearts filled with hope for a better life. Some were farmers believing in the promise of more land, and better soil. Some were fleeing lives where they were destined to die, believing the pamphlets they had read, believing the promises. Some were hopeful for a life with fresher, cleaner air, fleeing confini
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Four Stars

This is a work of historical fiction about a devastating and unexpected actual blizzard that occurred on January 12, 1888 in the northern Great Plains territories of the United States. The specific states affected were Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and Kansas. It had been unusually warm that morning, so it caught people unawares, and many had decided to go out and did not dress appropriately for the event that would suddenly occur. It especially a
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
4 snowy historical fiction stars -- This one releases today -- January 12, 2021, the 133rd anniversary of the storm. Very clever nod to the publisher.

One of my favorite things about historical fiction is when I learn new things about our past. I love how books like this bring events to life and make a memorable impact on me. This is my third book by this author and now my favorite of hers. I got to meet her at a bookstore event (remember those?) a few years ago and she gave an interesting talk a
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of the Children’s Blizzard, the name given to a blizzard that hit the Midwest in 1888. It was a uniquely tragic event because the weather had been relatively warm and the storm was unexpected. Many children died trying to get home from school and journalists played up the human interest aspects of the tragedy.

The story skipped around among several characters during and after the storm. Sisters Gerda and Raina were both teachers in different schools. One sister lead her stude
Nov 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the things I love most about historical fiction is gaining knowledge of past events. I’d never heard of the Children's Blizzard of 1888 and though this is ‘fiction’ I still feel educated after reading it. A terrible tragedy starting with all the people being ‘lured’ to this area and then with the huge responsibilities placed upon children. In my opinion they all deserve the label of hero.

I thought the story itself was good though there were very few likable characters and it dragged in s
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Jan 12th, 1888 an unexpected blizzard came through the plains, on what started out as a very balmy day.
It came at the time of day when children were about to be let out of school for the day, and so it’s known as The Schoolhouse Blizzard or Children’s Blizzard.
Many of the teachers in these schoolhouses were very young girls of about 16 yrs old.
This story is mostly about a young teacher named Raina and older sister Gerda, also a teacher at another school that got caught up with their student
I know my opinion of this book is really going to go against the grain of so many readers but the fact is I didn't care for it. I have read other books by Ms Benjamin that I felt were much better in their construction, their writing, and their approach. I loved her The Girls in the Picture, and very much enjoyed her Mistress of the Ritz , Alice I Have Been, and The Aviator's Wife.

I do have a bone to pick with authors or perhaps publishers that classify their books as an historical fiction. Many
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My heart was in my throat for most of the book and yes, tears fell. Melanie Benjamin has created a fictional portrayal around an actual event known as The Children's Blizzzard that happened on January 12, 1888 in the Dakota Territory. It was a relatively mild day after a severe cold snap. People had gotten out of their homes to get supplies, get their animals out to in the fields, and the children went to school as it was the first day they could after it had been so cold. They went to school wi ...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
We meet two sisters who are teachers and a blizzard that is wreaking havoc on the Great Plains just as school is about to be let out.

Raina and Gerda had to make the decision about letting the students run home or to keep them in the school. Either choice was made the right choice and one didn't.

The decisions made by Raina and Gerda stayed with them and affected them for their entire lives.

We follow the children, the teachers, the townspeople as the blizzard rages, as people become lo
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama, non-fiction
This book is a historical work based on real events which covers parts of the the most brutal and devastating blizzard that ever occurred on January 12, 1888 in Nebraska that would become known as "The Children's Blizzard". The story follows the lives of four central characters Raina and Gerda Olsen who are young teenage schoolteachers, Annette a ten year old unwanted servant child who has never experienced true love ir happiness in her short life and Gavin Woodson a reporter originally from New ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
*4-4.5 stars. Turn the heat up and grab an afghan before you sit down to read, because I guarantee you will soon be freezing.

This is an excellent work of historical fiction about the brutal blizzard that hit the Plains states on January 12, 1888, leaving a high death toll in its wake. It's known as 'the children's blizzard' because so many children were injured or lost their lives in often futile attempts to return home from school that day. Afterwards there were many stories of tragedy, heroic
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-net-galley

In her new book Melanie Benjamin decided to use fictional character's that a couple of them are loosely based on surrounding a real factual event. The book starts out rather slow highlighting all of the propaganda that was put out in Eastern newspaper's etc. about how the prairie land surrounding the states out west such as Nebraska, Minnesota, Dakota territory, then later Montana was rich farming land to lure many Europeans and poor people from Eastern
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
I’ve read other books by this author and have liked some of them. To state the obvious, Historical Fiction is fiction so altering facts, creating characters, and making assumptions is to be expected. I’m fine with that as long as the storyline successfully depicts the events, people, and aftermath. This isn’t the case here. The characters are one dimensional, the horror of the blizzard not fully illustrated, and the writing is mediocre.
Pam Jenoff
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin. Melanie's latest, out just over a week, tells the story of immigrant children caught in school during an unexpected blizzard in the Dakota Territor in the 1880's. Harrowing and heartfelt -- a must read! ...more
Karen R
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
On the temperate morning of January 12, 1888, immigrant children walked coatless to school. Nobody could have predicted the blizzard of gigantic proportion just hours away. Shortly after the children were settled in their one-room school house, this surprise catastrophic blizzard struck. Lacking communications, the children’s courageous and resourceful young teachers took charge, making difficult decisions to save the children.

I went into this story unaware of this real disaster that took place
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
A few years ago, I read a fabulous book on the children’s blizzard by David Laskin. His book is also called The Children’s Blizzard. I was very excited to read Benjamin‘s novel about that tragic and riveting tale. This book was good, but not nearly good as the non-fiction that Laskin wrote. Why mess with the real thing? I read this quickly as I was fascinated by the story, but had several annoyed moments when social topics de jour were broached in the story. How many pioneer woman with children ...more
Nan Williams
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: netgalley, kindle, quit
This novel, based on factual events, was populated with very hate-filled people who were totally self seeking. I simply can’t swallow that opinion of those who were merely seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Additionally the author used this historical event as a vehicle to promote a current political agenda.

I was not able to finish the book because of the unpleasantness of the above. I appreciate this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
The Children's Blizzard, based on a true and truly heartbreaking historical event, is an emotional roller coaster of a novel. A January morning in 1888 arrives warmer than usual in the Great Plains and those who have been snowbound take the opportunity to get outdoors: children attend school, families travel into town to make purchases, farmers let their livestock out for a day of grazing. Then, just as school is letting out the worst blizzard in memory begins and hundreds of lives are at risk.

Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This new release from Melanie Benjamin almost reads like a thriller rather than historical fiction. There is no doubt that the blizzard itself is a major character. Three young ladies and one almost-a-has-been reporter are our principal points of view. Two are teachers and new school teachers: Raina and Gerda. Annette, the third girl, was sold to the couple who Raina boards with. She is just eleven and has already faced some adult realities. When the blizzard hits, the two sisters make different ...more
Catherine Hankins
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think I've read just about every book and article on this event that I could find over the years. This is the first fiction work and it is amazing. It pretty much covers the horror the children and their teachers encountered when this unexpected blizzard hit them on what began as such a pleasantly warn day. Such a nightmare for everyone who lived out on the prairie. Just painful to read. Melanie Benjamin has done justice to the event. It's well written and filled with memorable characters. Mos ...more
I must admit, I am not very knowledgable of Nebraska history and had never heard of the Children’s Blizzard of 1888. I was fascinated by Melanie Benjamin’s fictional account of the blizzard.

It seems storms always come up right at the time school is letting out for the day and in 1888 things were no different. Many people felt like if they hurried, they would get home before it got worse, but the storm came in fast and furious, catching many unaware and unprepared.

I felt as if I were out in the
Mid-Continent Public Library
Coming to library shelves on Tuesday, January 12!
This new release from Melanie Benjamin almost reads like a thriller rather than historical fiction. There is no doubt that the blizzard itself is a major character. Three young ladies and one almost-a-has-been reporter are our principal points of view. Two are teachers and new school teachers: Raina and Gerda. Annette, the third girl, was sold to the couple who Raina boards with. She is just eleven and has already faced some adult realities. When
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc
This one is a difficult read.. Maybe that's due to the realistic nature of the book, but I'm telling you now to be prepared for a bout of depression - NOT entertainment.

3.5 stars rounded up...
I received this from

Based on historical events and the actual oral histories of survivors. Incredible ordeal.

I was a little underwhelmed by the characters and conversational story that was woven in with the events of that day. Although the fictional characters were based on real people they came off a little unreal and stilted. Overall, an okay read.

Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Children's Blizzard is based on a real event. The morning of January 12, 1888, was unseasonably warm. After a week of below zero temperatures children were sent to school wearing light clothing and adults went to town to replenish supplies. At the worst possible time of day, when children were coming home from school the blizzard hit and many were lost.

At the center of the story are two sisters, Gerda and Raina, both young teachers, one in Nebraska and one in North Dakota and how they handl
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Last Garden in England
  • Sunflower Sisters
  • The Kitchen Front
  • The Arctic Fury
  • When the Stars Go Dark
  • Yellow Wife
  • Lana's War
  • The Sweet Taste of Muscadines
  • What's Worth Keeping
  • What Could Be Saved
  • The Nature of Fragile Things
  • One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow
  • What You Wish For
  • The Four Winds
  • Eternal
  • The Last Tiara
  • The Switch
  • The Women of Chateau Lafayette
See similar books…
Melanie Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE and THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, as well as the national bestseller ALICE I HAVE BEEN, and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB and THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE. MISTRESS OF THE RITZ, a captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance d ...more

Related Articles

Her Favorite Books for Truman Capote Lovers: From high society glitz to true crime realism, Capote fans will delight in these recs from the author...
9 likes · 6 comments