Remembering 9/11 with Children through Picture & Chapter Books

Monday, September 5, 2022

One of my goals this year as a reading teacher is to do a better job showcasing books for certain times of year. I'm not sure If I'll do a monthly focus in my classroom, or just do different focuses on what we are reading and what kiddos are interested in. I am learning that the more books I share, the more kids are excited to read. They love grabbing my recommendations and checking them out! In September I wanted to give my kiddos some exposure to September 11th. They weren't alive when the towers fell, but it is still such an important part of our Nation's history and it is important for them to learn about it. Sharing a few incredible books about 9/11 below. Make sure to check the "recommended for" section, as some of the chapter books are more graphic and geared towards upper elementary/middle school kiddos. Personally, I plan to read "The Surviver Tree" to my class and then make a display of the other books kiddos can grab. Although I personally loved "Ground Zero" (mentioned below), I won't be offering it to my 5th graders because it is a bit graphic. 

Happy reading! Did I miss any good 9/11 books?
If so - let me know in the comments! I'd love to check them out! = ) 

Picture Books about September 11, 2001

1) The Surviver Tree by Marcie Colleen
Overview: This hopeful story of a resilient tree that grew (and still grows) at the base of the twin towers is a simple introduction for young readers to gain an understanding of September 11th and the impact it had on America. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 

Overview: A deeply moving story about community and resilience, from the point-of-view of the Callery pear tree that survived the attacks on September 11, from Eisner Award-nominated author-illustrator Sean Rubin. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 

Overview: The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboatof its time, but by 1995, the city didn't need old fireboats anymore. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 

Overview: Discover the inspiring story of the American flag that flew over Ground Zero, traveled across all fifty states as it was repaired, and returned to New York as a restored symbol of unity. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 

5) The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
Overview: In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and--in two dramatic foldout spreads-- the vertiginous drama of Petit's feat. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 

Overview: This book is considered a straightforward and sensitive book for a generation of readers too young to remember that terrible day. // Recommended for: Ages 9+ 

Chapter Books about September 11, 2001

1) Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Overview: This book is a thought provoking look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers. // Recommended for: Ages 9-12

2) Eleven by Tom Rogers
Overview: Alex Douglas always wanted to be a hero. But nothing heroic ever happened to Alex. Nothing, that is, until his eleventh birthday. When Alex rescues a stray dog as a birthday gift to himself, he doesn't think his life can get much better. Radar, his new dog, pretty much feels the same way. But this day has bigger things in store for both of them. This is a story about bullies and heroes. About tragedy and hope. About enemies with two legs and friends with four, and pesky little sisters and cranky old men, and an unexpected lesson in kindness delivered with a slice of pizza.  // Recommended for: Ages 10+

3) Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Overview: When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Dèja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers? // Recommended for: Ages 10-11+

4) Ground Zero by Alan Gratz 
Overview: September 11, 2001, New York City: Brandon is visiting his dad at work, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center. Out of nowhere, an airplane slams into the tower.  // September 11, 2019, Afghanistan: Reshmina has grown up in the shadow of war, but she dreams of peace and progress. When a battle erupts in her village, Reshmina stumbles upon a wounded American soldier named Taz. One devastating day. Nothing will ever be the same. // Recommended for: Ages 10+ (I would  suggest this for middle school grades, not elementary. I loved this book, but it has some tough topics in it that I wouldn't suggest for younger kids.)

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