September 11th Picture Books
For our grandparents, it was December 7, 1941 - the Pearl Harbor attack. For our parents, it was November 22, 1963 - the JFK assassination. For us… it was the Twin Tower attacks on September 11, 2001. A day we will never forget. I can remember every detail about that day...
We would be remiss not to mention the anniversary of September 11th on the blog this week, but discussing this topic in some classrooms can be tricky depending on the age you teach.
This is a piece of history that always makes me pause and think hard about how it should be approached with kids. Cassie and I teach fifth grade and Haley teaches eighth grade. While, I think it’s totally okay to teach the events of 9/11 in eighth grade, I worry about fifth graders (and for me, it was fourth graders last year). They are still so young and it can be hard to comprehend, but then you have others in those middle grades that do comprehend and they have QUESTIONS. So many questions.
How much do you explain? How far do you go?
It is a terrifying piece of our history and it was less than 20 years ago. As educators, I think we all know that feeling when a student looks up at us with wide eyes while reading a piece of historical non-fiction or a historical fiction novel and asks the dreaded, “Did THIS really happen?!” I always feel like I’m taking a piece of their innocence when I have to tell them yes. It hurts my heart. There is a gentle way to teach history though.
This is when I turn to picture books. Yes, 9/11 was scary. We don’t want our middle-grade kids to be scared, but we do want to slowly educate them about history until they are old enough to learn more details and work on comprehending what happened (I say work on comprehending, because there are some things that are still so hard for me to comprehend that actually happened). Luckily, there are SO many amazing books out there that can help us remember this significant date and honor those that died.
I have put together a resource of picture books that are great for honoring the anniversary of September 11th and are appropriate for middle-grade students and up. Your older kids might scoff at picture books at first, but I guarantee they will warm up to them.
Tip: preview these books while you are alone and maybe grab a box of tissues...
How do you honor the anniversary of 9/11? We would love to read in the comments what grade you teach and what you do during this week to honor and remember those that died.