Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Roundup of 9.11 books

Fifteen years ago, on September 11th, 2001, I was standing in front of my second grade class.  I was on the overhead going over our DOLs.  Another second grade teacher pulled my next door colleague and me out of our classes.  I found out our principal was busy doing the same thing.  We were briefly informed about the first attack.  At that time, there was no confirmation why this happened.  The rest of the day was a blur.  I remember watching the television at every break.  Each time I got away there was more news, and none of it good, to report.  It didn't seem like it was ever going to stop.  Meanwhile, being in a building of 1st-4th grade students, the decision to keep the day going as planned was made.  There was no reason to let students know since we didn't know everything.  But the day was interrupted by parents.  Parents who came to pick up their children because on a day like this, you just want them near.  If I ever want record of what I looked like on that day, or what many of my students looked like, I can refer to our school photos.  It had been Picture Day.

Fourteen September 11th days have happened since that day.  Soon it will be fifteen.  I remember the first anniversary.  I greeted every student with a hug that morning.  They remembered the year before, some with more understanding than others.  That understanding has dwindled away.  With each passing year, our students seem to know less and less about that day.  I'm guessing this is akin to those who lived through other momentous days in history, such as John F. Kennedy's assassination or the day the Challenger exploded.  For those who live through events that make an impact on history, they make an impact on you.  But for those who don't it remains that - a part of history.

As we approach the 15th anniversary of 9.11, I want to share some books with you.  These books are meant for our students, to help them understand a little bit more about our history.  I think the authors of these books have done an amazing job.  The picture books share stories of hope.  The middle grade and young adult books help explain and shed light.  Many give young readers a "window" into what that day and the aftermath was like.  Others are a "mirror" into what life may be like for families and cultures who are still dealing with the effects.

While a few of these books came from my own reading, this post could not be what it is without the help of Lesley Burnap's original Facebook post.  Through social media, countless people shared books that they use to help make sense of this tragedy.  Thank you to Donalyn Miller, Nora Raleigh Baskin, Gae Polisner, Paul Hankins, and Melissa Rebello.

Picture Books

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Fireboat by Maira Kalman
Saved by the Boats by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Steve Moors
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right by Masterson Elementary Students
The Little Chapel That Stood by A.B. Curtiss
The Survivor Tree by Cheryl Somers Aubin, illustrated by Sheila Harrington
This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort poems selected by Georgia Heard
September Roses by Jeanette Winter

Middle Grade

Nine, Ten:  A September 11th Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Eleven by Tom Rogers
Just a Drop of Water by Kerry O'Malley Cerra
The New York Times: A Nation Challenged A Visual History of 9/11 Young Readers Edition
America is Under Attack by Don Brown

Young Adult

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner
All We Have Left by Wendy Mills
September 11, 2001: Attack on New York City by Wilborn Hampton
Love Is the Higher Law by David Levithan
The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard


  1. Thank you for sharing, Michele. 15 years...
    Lesley :)

  2. What a comprehensive list you've put together, Michele. Thank you! I have been collecting a lot over the summer to add to the library collection but you have provided titles I wasn't aware of. Thank you.