Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering... 8 Years Later

I think we all remember where we were... who we were with... what we were doing on that fateful morning eight years ago today... September 11, 2001.

I was a freshman at SUNY Oswego, beginning my third week of college classes. I had just gotten out of Mathematics for Elementary Teachers and was walking to my second class of the day - Oceanography. I kept hearing the low voices, talking about what "just happened." It wasn't until my Oceanography professor arrived though, that I learned what had indeed, "just happened" - the World Trade Centers had been hit by an airplane. Because the campus had such a huge population of students from NYC, the professor brought a radio with her, pleaded with us all to stay in class so we could talk about what was going on, and reassure each other (a few of the students in the class had family in the World Trade Center). So that's what we did... we sat there, listening to the broadcasts on the radio about what was happening, until it was announced roughly a half an hour later that the campus was cancelling classes - to head back to the dorms or home (whatever the case may be), because there was a possibility of Oswego being targeted due to the nuclear power plant in the area. I got on the phone and headed home, plugged into the television, my eyes fixed in a stare for the next two days... As devastating as the shows were, you just had to keep watching, waiting for news.

While many elementary school-aged children weren't even born before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, those that were alive, aren't likely to remember the events that took place on that gorgeous, blue-sky morning. However, this attack against the United States is one that has forever changed our nation, and because of that, we need to make sure that children know what happened and the impact that it had on life today. These three books will help children to understand what happened and how it impacted our nation.

Roth, Susan L.
It's Still a Dog's New York: A Book of Healing.
National Geographic Society.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

In this parable of childhood bereavement, Pepper and Rover, two New York dogs, are miserable after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Pepper feels overwhelmed with sadness and fear and anger. But in a tour of New York City, his friend Rover shows him that even though they’re sad, they can go on. Pepper learns that helping others, expressing his feelings, celebrating the bravery of rescue workers, and allowing himself to enjoy life can lead to healing; that the pair are not underdogs, but top dogs; that Americans are strong enough to survive and thrive, that It’s Still a Dog’s New York.

This was a great book about coping with the aftermath of September 11 for children who live in NYC and are familiar with the sights and areas. Apparently, "Peppa" and "Rova" are familiar faces, who initially were introduced in It's a Dog's New York. These central characters are revisited as readers re-enter New York City in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedies. I think It's Still a Dog's New York is most appropriate for NYC children, unless it is used in collaboration with It's a Dog's New York, so that children are able to recognize and understand the differences that one day made on such a city. This was definitely tenderly written to be used as a coping strategy with children!

H. Byron Masterson Elementary School 1st Grade Students.
September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right.
Scholastic, Inc.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

On September 11th horrific events occurred, yet through the simple text and vibrant art of first graders, we are reminded that the world continued the next day. On each page, children experience the comforts of ordinary routines, such as their teacher reading books to them, having homework and recess, and knowing that 2 + 2 still equals 4. This is a poignant message of hope that reassures us all that even after bad things happen, tomorrow always brings a new day.

This book was interesting - children will really connect with the story because children wrote the story! It very briefly touches upon the events of September 11, but not with any amount of detail. However, children will get the message of the "really bad things" that happened through the drawings of the children who authored the book. This book is perfect for any children going through a big change in their life - reassuring them that everything will be all right. That message is portrayed very clearly and it will certainly help put children at ease as they go through difficult times in their life. I would recommend a copy of this for every library and bookshelf, as you never know when you may need a book of these proportions but want to be prepared in any event.

Kalman, Maira.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey.
G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Summary from Barnes & Noble:

A fireboat, launched in 1931, is retired after many years of fighting fires along the Hudson River, but is saved from being scrapped and then called into service again on September 11, 2001.

This was really a moving story... and I think that's what is so important about making sure it is shared with children - many of us look at September 11 as a truly terrible day.... and while it was that, it also resulted in a nation of people coming together and working together - showing a great deal of support toward the population of NYC. United we stood, for that day and many many others since. This book shows just one act of support that took place in the days following the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers. It gives a brief, yet plentiful explanation of what happened on September 11, without going in to details beyond the ears of young children. That's just what elementary school children need in order to understand what happened and what made that day such a terrible day that will forever be talked about. Definitiely worth sharing with children in memory of all those who lost their life on what started to be such an ordinary day!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to