Every time the 11th of September rolls around, I can’t help remembering where I was when I heard about the devastating attacks of that day. It feels strange today to realize that there’s now a whole generation of Americans who only know about the events of that day through movies and books. Though it is an important part of our recent history as a nation, it is ultimately for parents to decide how much discussion about the subject they need to have as a family. Sometimes a book can be an entry point into a difficult conversation.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman. 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. (Ages 4-8)
America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown. A straightforward account of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Watercolor illustrations show the destruction of the plane crashes as well as the emotions of the people involved. (Ages 8 – 12)
I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis. Part of the popular “I Survived” series, the familiar format may make the subject matter easier for middle grade readers. Noah is looking forward to spending his 11th birthday with his brave New York City firefighter dad when the outing is interrupted by the September 11 attacks, to which his father must respond at the risk of his life. (Ages 8-12)
Nine, Ten : a September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin. This chapter book relates how the lives of four middle school-age kids living in different parts of the country intersect and are affected by the events of September 11, 2001. (Ages 10 – 13)
The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner. Racing to safety after witnessing the first Twin Tower collapse on September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle, having been separated from his family, impulsively brings home a traumatized girl who has forgotten who she is. (Ages 12 and up)
All We Have Left by Wendy Mills. In interweaving stories of sixteen-year-olds, modern-day Jesse tries to cope with the ramifications of her brother’s death on 9/11, while in 2001, Alia, a Muslim, gets trapped in one of the Twin Towers and meets a boy who changes everything for her as flames rage around them. (Ages 12 and up)
Some other nonfiction titles for young readers on this subject are: September 11 We Will Never Forget by Peter Benoit, September 11 Then and Now by Peter Benoit, Ground Zero Dogs by Meish Goldish, A Nation Challenged : a visual history of 9/11 and its aftermath, text and photos by the New York Times.