Introduce your children to the attacks on September 11 through these gentle picture books and chapter books that shaped America forever.
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14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
An engaging tale of a people’s generosity following the tragedy of 9/11, 14 Cows for America follows the home-going of Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah to Kenya. Once there, he relays the news of America’s terrorist attack to the Massai people, who in turn offer up a sacrificial gift to the survivors.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey
An excellent introduction to 9/11 for children, Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey tells the account of a retired fireboat who became a hero on September 11, 2001. Having been deemed obsolete and slated for scrap, the John J. Harvey returns to its former glory days when desperation puts the old boat back in business. An old hero is back in the water as this fireboat begins to fight the flames and bring hope to a city on one of the most infamous days in our nation’s history.
September Roses by Jeanette Winter
Two South African sisters fly over Manhattan with a plane-load of roses for a New York flower show. The darkened sky is filled with smoke and ash and the sisters find out they will not be going home or to the flower show anytime soon. As the nation faces a new and sobering reality, the girls’ roses bring a community together to remember.
The Man in the Red Bandana by Honor Crowther Fagan
The Man in the Red Bandana honors the memory of Welles Crowther, a 9/11 hero who gave his life rescuing several others from the burning buildings of the twin towers. This true story of self-sacrifice and courage is written by Welles’ sister, who offers readers an intriguing account of this everyday hero.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
In 1974, a fearless French aerialist danced and sashayed over a thin rope stretched between the famous twin towers, captivating his audience below. This Caldecott award winner gives readers a glimpse of the towers before 9/11.
September 12th: We Knew Everything Was Going to Be All Right by Materson Elementary Students
A class of first graders recounts the day after the world changed in this poignant story of life continuing on after destruction. The children find comfort in the moments we often take for granted and recognize that recess, meals, and math still marched on and that life would too.
America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell (Actual Times) by Don Brown
American is Under Attack is a simple and honest recounting of the day tragedy and hope unfurled across America, written especially for an audience that was not old enough to understand or have lived through September 11, 2001 and the days that followed.
Saved by the Boats by Julie Gassman
Saved by the Boats tells the inspiring story of the largest sea evacuation in history. A crew of firemen and their boats whisked people out of the flames and to safety as ash and dust darkened the sky on 9/11. These unsung heroes offered the people of Manhattan a chance to hope again even as the city around them was plunged into chaos.
Rescue and Jessica by Jessica Kensky
After the Boston Marathon Bombing, Jessica Kensky became a double amputee. In this beautiful picture book, Jessica begins the healing process with her service dog. While not relating directly to 9/11, I really love this book and its messages of hope and resilience in the midst of dark times.
Escape from the Twin Towers by Kate Messner (Ranger in Time)
This action-packed novel spins a thrilling tale of a time-traveling golden retriever who arrives in New York just in time to witness the terrorist attack on the twin towers. Themes such as sacrifice in the face of danger, courage, and honor abound in this story, and readers learn a plethora of information about 9/11 right alongside the story’s beloved canine hero, Ranger.
I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis (I Survived)
When Lucas’ parents tell him he can no longer play football, Lucas is devastated. He decides to skip school and head to New York to talk to his firefighter friend about this disappointment, only to find himself caught in the wrong place at the wrong time as the twin towers begin to fall. This fast-paced, engaging read will keep even a reluctant reader turning the pages.
Told from dual perspectives, Brandon is a young boy who went to work with his father on the morning of September 11, 2001. Reshmina is a young girl in Afghanistan during the War in Afghanistan. I think the story was a bit overly-simplified at times, but it is still a worthy read. Grab the book guide here.
9/11 dawns and Alex Douglas is excited about the day. He is turning 11 and has no idea what a historic day is about to unfold. This touching novel deals sensitively with themes of uncertainty, hope, courage, and strong family bonds.
10 True Tales: 9/11 Heroes by Allan Zullo
Read about the true, exciting stories of the men and women who risked their lives on September 11, 2011. Each action-packed tale allows the reader to fully enter into the story of the heroes who helped save the day for many and entered into the fray bravely without realizing what they would face.
What were the Twin Towers? by Jim O’Conner (What Was? Series)
Discover the history of the Twin Towers–from their birth into the New York skyline in 1973, their subsequent distinction as the world’s tallest buildings, and their eventual demise during the terrorist attack on 9/11.
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
A middle schooler begins at a new school and befriends a Muslim girl and the son of an Iraqi soldier. Their teacher introduces them to the events of 9/11 fifteen years prior, and together the students embark on a journey of discovery about patriotism, community, healing, humanity, and hope.
The Red Bandanna (Young Readers Edition) by Tom Rinaldi
The Red Bandanna recounts the inspiring story of Welles Crowther, an equity trader working in the World Trade Center on that fateful day of September 11, 2001. Although he had the ability to escape the building, Welles stayed back to help escort others out, an act of bravery that eventually led to his own demise. With him along the way is a red bandanna gifted to Welles by his father during his childhood that had served many different purposes over the years.