Earlier this spring a third grader at the next-door Harman School asked if the Pioneer Memorial Public Library had any books about September 11. In searching our online catalog I realized that we did not. I put this subject matter on my mental wish list -- where could I find a book that was suitable for kids about the attacks on America that occurred on September 11, 2001?
First, this is an important topic. For most adults we will never forget where we were when we heard the news about this great tragedy that effected so many. Many of us were effected personally by friends, family, or acquaintances who were at or near the sites. Even watching the events unfold on television was traumatizing for millions around the world. It is important that we be able to talk about this day, and it is important that there are books available to our children so that they might better understand September 11.
I am pleased to say that we recently acquired a book that may be considered a great introduction for kids about the events that took place on that fateful day.
"America Is Under Attack" (2011) by Don Brown is easy to read, but difficult to experience. I forgot how complicated the events were that took place on that day. Four separate airplanes were ultimately hijacked and used as weapons by al-Qaeda terrorists. The book uses attractive and slightly cartoonish illustrations to show the roles played by the firemen, the terrorists, and the thousands of innocent victims whose only mistake was boarding a plane, or showing up for work at the Pentagon in Washington DC, or the Twin Towers in New York City. Thankfully, the faces of the people in the book are abbreviated and let the words of the book shine through to tell this complicated tale that reveals the best and worst that humanity has to offer.
Brown also uses real stories of people who were on the scene in New York City. These individual stories of courage and tragedy help to make this story real and memorable. The bibliography that is a part of this book helps if you want to see source documents or check out other books and articles to read. This book is appropriate for ages 6-10 and grades one through five.
As a parent, I do suggest that you read this book first so that you know what your child is reading and that you are ready to answer questions. Also, you may want to make sure that this book is appropriate for your child. Some more sensitive and impressionable kids may find the events of September 11 disturbing, and honestly, they are quite right to feel this way. While many historical events may be upsetting or difficult for youngsters, knowledge is power. If your son or daughter is asking questions about September 11, "America Is Under Attack" by Don Brown is a great way to start a conversation.