I was in college when the planes flew into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. It was surreal, shocking, and horrifying to watch the second plane crash. How does a parent tell children about that day, which has forever changed America?
Fortunately, there are resources available to us, to help tell the story in truthful and careful ways. This year, I’ve borrowed a few books from the library to help tell the story to my children and open a discussion with them.
First is a lovely picture book called “Fireboat” by Maira Kalman. This tells the story of the John J. Harvey fireboat, which saw the growth of the New York City area before 9-11, taking the reader on a journey through the “life” of a fireboat. Then, September 11 happened, and suddenly the little fireboat witnesses one of the most tragic scenes in our history. Through the rest of the story, heroes are praised and the journey ends with Harvey receiving an award. I highly recommend this book. It will be an introduction to the attacks of 9-11 in a way that helps children see the good of humanity who helped all those in need on such a hard, hard day in our history. For more about the John J. Harvey, see this website and check out this activity guide from Like Oak Media. Book recommended ages: 3 or 4 and up.
Next I borrowed a book called “America is Under Attack” by Don Brown. Another picture book, this is a story of the events in chronological order, with much greater details and names included. Brown retells the story of heroes and tragic losses in such a fashion that as I read through it, I teared up. Share this with younger and more sensitive children at your own judgement. Please, please preview this before you let your strong readers of young ages read it, because as well-done as it is, it is factual, honest, and real. It will be sad. Prepare for tears of your own and from your children. I would recommend this with older ages, perhaps at least age 8 and up. If you only flip through and talk about the pictures, you could use this as a resource with younger children. The story is just so sad, and as Brown reminds us, more died on 9-11 than at Pearl Harbor. We cannot forget, and for that reason this story is important and worth reading. Again, read it with your young children at your own judgement. I will read it along-side my 5th grader, and look at pictures with my younger children.
For more ideas, please visit these blogs which helped inspire my book choices. Candace gives a longer selection at His Mercy Is New and Elizabeth Foss highlights several more books with suggestions for older children and teens as well.
It is important to remember to pray when we look back on the tragedy our nation faced, and continues to be affected by each and every day. Here is a prayer to print out and pray with your family on September 11, and any day, to help us find hope in God who alone can save us from evil and hardship. Please share. We can all use more prayer, can’t we? The heroes of this day, the souls lost, and all those who remain deeply affected need our prayers, too. After all, 13 years ago wasn’t that long.
To print, click on image and print, or right click and save and then print. I tested it, and it prints well in a large format.