I often find great books that I don’t use in Story Time for one reason or another – they don’t fit my theme or, as in this case, are on a topic that is important but is not quite right for exploring at Story Time.
My oldest was just a few weeks shy of turning four on September 11, 2001. We tried so hard to keep him away from the news coverage, but of course it was impossible. A few days after the attacks in NYC and Washington DC and Pennsylvania we were driving through a neighborhood. Out of the backseat I head his sweet little voice say “Are all these American flags for the people who died in that big building in New York?” I was floored. How did he know about that? How could I possibly explain this to a four year old?
How will I explain this to my youngest son who is now 5? He has always lived in a post-9/11 world but knows nothing about what happened that day.
I have found two wonderful picture books that are just right for gently explaining September 11 to young kids.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maria Kalman is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book that simply explains what happened in NYC on 9/11/2001 through the context of a fireboat that was called out of retirement to help ferry New Yorkers out of the city and ended up spending four days fighting the fires at the Twin Towers. The focus is on how anyone can be useful when help is needed and celebrates the spirit of NYC and the many thousands of people who jumped into action to help those in need.
September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right by Masterson Elementary Students was written by 1st graders at a NYC elementary school. In very simple words and pictures the book explains that even when bad things happen many things will remain the same and we will be safe. A very important message 12 years ago for young kids that is still very relevant today. We can remember but we don’t have to live in fear.
I would love to know what other books you have discovered to help young kids understand tragedies such as this… please feel free to add to my list.