Growing Reader

Tween

Teen

We Remember: Books to Help You Talk to Your Kids About 9/11

by Sharon Holbrook

We parents remember it like a vivid nightmare. Our children, though, were not yet born. How can they comprehend? What will we say to them? And, perhaps most importantly, how can understanding the events of September 11, 2001 help them understand the scary things they may see on the news today?

As always, books are here to help.

  • Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

    by Maira Kalman

    When it’s time to talk about the September 11 attacks, and begin the next generation’s tribute to those lost, this picture book is a winning choice. In 2001, the 1931 John J. Harvey had long since retired from active firefighting duty for New York City, first falling into disrepair and later resurrected as a pleasure boat. Now, in the face of terrorist attacks — the details of which are simply but clearly described — the Harvey springs into action once again, fighting the long-burning fires at Ground Zero. A tale of heroism, bravery, and the good that ordinary people (and humble old boats) can do when dark days arrive.

  • The Red Bandanna (Young Readers Adaption)

    by Tom Rinaldi

    Adapted for young readers from Rinaldi’s 2016 bestseller, the story of Welles Crowther and his inspiring heroism is one that every reader should know. Known as the Man in the Red Bandanna, Crowther is credited with helping at least a dozen people escape the South Tower before it collapsed. None of the survivors knew who he was at the time — only that he wore a red bandanna. The bandanna Welles always carried helped witnesses put together a timeline of his heroic actions before he died that day. Told from multiple points of view, this is a moving and powerful story about courage, kindness, and sacrifice.

  • We All Fall Down

    by Eric Walters

    This middle grade novel begins on September 10, 2001. Ninth-grader Will is not looking forward to going to work with his dad at the World Trade Center tomorrow. He feels his dad doesn’t have an “exciting” job like his friend James’ dad, who is a firefighter, does. But on September 11, when a plane crashes into the North Tower, it’s his dad’s responsibility to get everybody out of the South. And when another plane then crashes into the South Tower, both Will and his dad’s lives are forever changed. Eric Walters’ compelling narrative provides a talking point between parents and middle grader readers.

  • What Were the Twin Towers?

    by Jim O'Connor and Who HQ, illustrated by Ted Hammond

    Part of the What Was? book series, What Were the Twin Towers? provides a history of the once tallest buildings in the world that’s digestible for children. From their initial opening in 1973 to their destruction in 2001, this book details why they were built, the controversy surrounding their construction, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks that permanently destroyed them. If you’re looking for an illustrative, middle grade-friendly history, this is a great place to start.

  • 9-11: Artists Respond

    by Dark Horse Comics

    This collector’s edition graphic novel features illustrated stories by many artists — from one who recalls his last trip to New York to an interpretation of the heroic passengers on Flight 93. These words and illustrations are a poignant and beautiful tribute to the memory of those who lost their lives on that tragic day, and are great for starting a thoughtful conversation about 9/11.

Eighteen years past September 11, 2001, terrorism continues to be a threat to our nation. What can end it? We may not yet know, but reading and understanding have always been necessary to heal the wounds of division and violence. And so, with hope, we bring the next generation with us to the bookshelf.