I was in the high school commons laughing about something stupid at a table with my friends. We didn’t have a care in the world and we were just waiting until the last possible second before we had to get to our next class.
All of a sudden, we heard our principal over the intercom telling everyone to hurry up and get into a classroom with a teacher. We thought it was a little strange, but did what we were told. I walked into my next class to find my teacher crying with the tv on. At this time, we all realized what was happening and just sat at our desks…waiting and watching.
Wherever you were on the day 19 years ago, you have a story to tell.
I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite books to share with students, or to just read for myself. Each one of these leaves me with tears by the time I get to the end of them. They are all written with so much care and respect.
Whether you’re in person, hybrid, or remote, I hope you find some time to discuss with your class the day and the impact the events have made on our country and people. If you’re not sure how to do it…grab one of these books and simply have a read aloud.
Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day—until a plane struck the World Trade Center. But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Naheed has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Aimee is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business.
Towers Falling 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?
The Man in the Red Bandana When Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red bandanna, which he always carried with him. On September 11, 2001, Welles Remy Crowther saved numerous people from the upper floors of the World Trade Center South Tower. “The Man in the Red Bandanna” recounts and celebrates his heroism on that day. Welles’ story carries an inspirational message that will resonate with adults as well as young children.
I Survived the Attacks of September 11th So the next morning, Lucas takes the train to the city instead of the bus to school. It’s a bright, beautiful day in New York. But just as Lucas arrives at his uncle’s firehouse, everything changes — and nothing will ever be the same again.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboat of its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. 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. In this inspiring true story, Maira Kalman brings a New York City icon to life and proves that old heroes never die.
What Were the Twin Towers? When the Twin Towers were built in 1973, they were billed as an architectural wonder. At 1,368 feet, they clocked in as the tallest buildings in the world and changed the New York City skyline dramatically. Offices and corporations moved into the towers—also known as the World Trade Center—and the buildings were seen as the economic hub of the world. But on September 11, 2001, a terrorist attack toppled the towers and changed our nation forever.