If you’ve been with us for the last few months you doubtless saw Betsy’s reviews of two recent, highly-regarded middle-grade novels about the worst foreign attack on American soil ever. But if you’re looking for good books to introduce children of all ages to what happened on September 11, 2001, we’ve been reviewing them all along. Here in one handy post is a list of helpful books about that day, as well as the wider War on Terror that we suddenly realized was upon us.
FOR THE PICTURE-BOOK CROWD:
14 Cows for America by Carmen Deedy (2009). How a small village in Kenya offered consolation to the world’s most powerful nation. A sweet and touching story–with animals!
Fireboat: the Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman (2005). A quaint little fireboat in New York harbor, refitted by enthusiasts as a tourist attraction, is pressed into service one more time to keep the damage from spreading. A gripping-but-accessible story for younger children.
The Little Chapel that Stood by A. B. Curtiss. This book introduced me to a story I didn’t know: less than 100 yards from the twin towers stood St. Paul’s Chapel, where President George Washington once attended services. The tallest structures in the city collapsed without damaging the church: a miracle? Both inspiring and touching.
BOOKS FOR MIDDLE-GRADERS
America Is under Attack (Actual Times Series) by Don Brown (2011). Before celebrated graphic novelist Don Brown won kudos with his books about The Dust Bowl and Hurricane Katrina (Drowned City), he contributed this title to the Actual Times series, historical nonfiction that combines interviews, snapshots, and vignettes. An excellent introduction for 8-12 year-olds.
I Survived the Attacks of September 9, 2011 (I Survived Series) by Lauren Tarshis (2012). The popular series of fictionalized historical disasters puts readers right in the middle of the action. We follow 11-year-old Lucas Calley through that fateful day as he tries to find his Uncle Benny–who happens to be a firefighter. An afterward goes into more factual detail about the aftermath. Great for 8-10 year olds.
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes (2016). Fifteen years after the event, three fifth-graders try to uncover the history, which leads back to a father with unsettling memories . Betsy gave the novel four stars. Recommended for ages 8-12.
Shooting Kabul by N. H. Senzai (2011). As the Taliban tightens its control on Afghanistan, a Muslim family escapes their country and comes to light in Oakland, California. As they’re adjusting to American culture their world is rocked again by 9/11. A valuable look at how those events appeared from a different point of view for ages 10-12.
Nine, Ten: a September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin (2016). Four unrelated middle-graders in different locations find their world shaken that fateful day. One year later they are together in one place–older, wiser, and more sympathetic.
BOOKS FOR EARLY TEENS
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (2013). Branching out to the wider War on Terror. The teenage martyr, civil-rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner adapts her story for younger readers.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas (2016). Way back in 1978, an Iranian family moved to central California. A year later, something happened the most historians now regard as the opening salvo of the “War on Terror”: the attack on the American embassy in Tehran that led to a year-long hostage crisis.
BOOKS FOR TEENS AND GROWNUPS
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi (2014). Why is all this turmoil happening in the Middle East? It might be that God is shaking up the region to reap a great harvest of souls. Nabeel Qureshi recounts his journey from devout young Muslim to fervent Christian, adding useful background material and advice about ministering to Muslims.
We Are America: a Tribute from the Heart by Walter Dean Myers. Not so much a story as a salute by a celebrated author who had mixed feelings about his native country (with reason), but went through a period of self-examination after seeing her attacked. Thoughtful and touching; recommended for adults and older kids.
And finally, though fifteen years have blunted the edge and life long ago returned to normal” for most of us, there’s still a war going on, ugly and brutal. When the news hits us hard, where do we turn? Megan offers a valuable reminder us in “How Long O Lord?”