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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Children's Book: Comforting Kids after 9/11 Tragedy

In 2001, I was working as an elementary school teacher.   The events that took place during the school day on 9/11 was something that no one was prepared for.  Something that was not included on a college syllabus; how to deal with a terrorist act.  
The news was coming in and the teachers were buzzing in the halls. Ones who lived close by ran home to watch it on TV.  Some sat in cars listening to radio coverage.  Very few of us checked in with our loved ones via text, if we had the phones that were capable of sending or receiving text messages.  

Living within close proximity to NYC, many of our students parents worked in Manhattan.   Being the first week of school, we were not sure which parents did and no one dared ask.   It came up in casual conversation that day, as we tried to survey which children had parents that "took the train to work," or "which parents drove to work."  Most teachers abandoned lesson plans for that day and tried to assess what their kids would go home to on 9/11 and how they would return to the classroom on 9/12.   Before sending them home that day, we gave them a blanket message about something happening that day and that the teachers were riding the bus home that day for a change-- because we wanted to be sure that each child had someone to meet them at their stop.   I vividly recall a beautiful 10 year old girl saying, "Can you tell us what it is??  My mom won't know.   She works in NYC."  

Needless to say, 9/12 arrived and all of my students arrived the next day with stories (some worse than others) but everyone was OK.   The sun rose, the birds chirped and the school was still there.   This book is a great resource and comfort for kids to explain that yes, some very bad things go on in the world, but everything will be all right.     I sent this in to school with my little one this morning (after reading it last night.)   A note to the teacher saying this was a gift to her classroom library.

Who knows what her experience on 9/11 was.  She was also teaching that day, had friends and family to check in on and students to greet the next morning.     She asked the children to wear red, white and blue to school today.   I am sure 12 years later, she has perfected the message but this book is one that will likely be a special addition to her collection of teaching materials.  

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