Tag Archives: 9/11 museum

9/11 books for children

Books I encountered during a June visit to the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan

Captain Bob Badgett of the Gilbert Fire Department, whose two children are in their early 20s, spent part of Wednesday this week at Finley Farms Elementary School. He was one of several volunteers who read to 4th graders as part of the town’s “Week of Tribute to 9/11.” www.gilbertaz.gov/911memorial.

Badgett read a book titled “Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey” by Maira Kalman of Manhattan, who “was born in Tel Aviv and moved to New York with her family at the age of four.” She’s written and illustrated thirteen children’s books —  the latest a collaboration with Lemony Snicket titled “13 WORDS.” www.mairakalman.com.

“Fireboat” is the true tale of a boat in 1931 New York that’s eventually retired for a time — until called back into service in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Its crew includes a dog named “Smokey,” which makes me feel only slightly better about the fact that I often call the book “Firedog” by mistake. www.fireboat.org.

I first stumbled on “Fireboat” in June, while visiting the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan — where it was diplayed close to teddy bears wearing NYPD or FDNY shirts and other items honoring 9/11 first responders.

The 9/11 Memorial will open to 9/11 families this Sunday (and others, with online reservations, the following day), but those of us who won’t be in NYC can still support the cause by shopping for 9/11-related books and other items online. www.911memorial.org.

I like the idea of keeping these books handy year-round rather than pulling them out only with the advent of 9/11 anniversary dates. My books on Abraham Lincoln weren’t put away between President’s Day holidays when my children were little, so why treat this historical event any differently?

Be sure you review 9/11-related books before sharing them with your child. “Fireboat” depicts the destruction of the twin towers, which some parents might not feel comfortable with. “Fireboat” is recommended for ages four and up, but you’re the best judge of what your own child can handle.

Badgett says the experience of reading “Fireboat” to fourth graders felt especially profound because almost all of them were born the year that 9/11 took place. “They have a deeper understanding of it than I thought,” reflects Badgett.

He was also impressed by the questions students asked. Do you remember where you were? Didn’t we catch the guy who masterminded this? “I wondered how deep to go with all this,” shares Badgett. It sounds like he kept it simple and very matter of fact in tone — as it should be.

It reminded me of the story about a child who asks a mom where babies come from only to get a full-blown anatomy lecture when a simple “we’ll bring her home from the hospital” would have done the trick. Still, it’s important not to skim over the event as if it never happened or has little significance.

“Kids need real and factual information,” observes Badgett. “If they don’t get it from us, they get misinformation from other places.” Badgett appreciates books like “Fireboat” because they “get kids the information in a non-threatening format.”

On the morning of 9/11, Badgett (then a firefighter in Scottsdale) was “off shift” — watching television at home while enjoying his morning coffee. After seeing the second tower get hit, Badgett brought his own children downstairs and told them what had happened. “That day all firefighters were on duty,” recalls Badgett.

The newest children’s book to explore the events of and after 9/11 is “14 Cows for America,” written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. Wilson Kimel Naiyomah collaborated on the book, which is aimed at 6-10 year olds.

It’s the true story of a Maasai student in New York who witnessed 9/11 — then shared the experience with villagers after returning home to Kenya. The tragedy inspired them to make a precious gift to America. It was their cows. www.14cowsforamerica.com.

Many children offered gifts of words and art in the weeks and months following 9/11. Some found their way into books like “September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right,” “Do Not Be Sad: A Chronicle of Healing,” “What Will You Do For Peace?” and “Messages to Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11, 2001.” Also “Art for Heart” and “The Day Our World Changed.”

We like to believe that we read books about 9/11 with our children to help them make sense of the world. In reality, we’re the ones still struggling to understand. 

— Lynn

Coming up: Talking with kids about 9/11, Review: 14 Cows for America, Broadway remembers 9/11


Patriotism & pedestrians

This exhibit space in lower Manhattan gives visitors a taste of the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum scheduled to open to the public on September 12, 2011

Like many Americans, images from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, are seered into my soul. Until my recent trip to New York City, I continued to picture Ground Zero as a giant hole in the ground, as a place of emptiness. But when I went to see the site, that image I carry with me wasn’t there. Instead, I found patriotism and pedestrians.

View of World Trade Center construction zone from the 9/11 Memorial Preview Center

The area surrounding Ground Zero in lower Manhattan is teeming with people walking streets full of construction crews and their equipment. Business folk scurrying to and from work, tourists pausing to snap photos and young parents pushing strollers.

A family pauses at one of many windows in an enclosed pedestrian walkway that runs from one side of the World Trade Center construction zone to the other

Those who come to remember 9/11 have several options — including the World Trade Center Tribute Center and the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, where I spent some time during my recent visit. The preview center was packed with people, many standing quiet and still — almost frozen in time as they must have been the day many of us watched events unfolding on our television screens.

This exhibit at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site recounts each event and the time it took place

They were reading a timeline of 9/11 events that wraps around the top of the walls, watching video tape accounts of heroism, pausing to reflect over items like the shiny black shoes and crisp white hat that belonged to one of the firefighters who lost his life that day.

This model shows the buildings and reflecting pools taking shape at the WTC site

The completed museum will feature a memorial exhibit commemorating the lives of those who perished on September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 and will provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the men, women and children who died.

Patches (including one from the Pima County Sheriff) are part of the Lady Liberty exhibit

The 9/11 Memorial Preview Site has a retail area where visitors can buy T-shirts, toys, books and more — many with an NYPD or FDNY theme. Even gold and silver leaves representing the 400 trees to be planted at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I came home with several bookmarks and wristbands, plus information on how to purchase a cobblestone or paver for the memorial plaza.

This poster hangs in the gift shop area of the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site

But I came home with something more. A new image of America in the aftermath of 9/11. The hole in our collective soul is mending. The patriotism and pedestrians at Ground Zero affirm that, though we will never forget, we are forging a future fueled by freedom rather than fear.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for tips on talking with your children about 9/11

Coming up: Finding Frida, New Works Festival, Art meets All-Star Baseball

Update: The 9/11 Memorial is now open to the public (online reservations required) — the museum is still being completed.

The day our world changed

Untitled by Charlotte Lockhart, age 14

On September 11, 2002, a juried art exhibit opened at the Museum of the City of New York–a shared project of the museum and the New York University Child Study Center. It was titled “The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11.”

As our country marks the ninth anniversary of this tragic day, I thought it best to enlist the help of children in remembering and reflecting on what Americans experienced, individually and collectively, on 9/11/2001.

I searched far and wide to locate a copy of a book containing artwork from this exhibit–eventually finding a single copy at a Phoenix library. I’m going to spend much of the day with the 75 works of art featured in the book, also titled “The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11.”

Hundreds of children ages 5 to 18 submitted artwork for consideration, and works not included in the original exhibit and book were featured for a time in an online collection. The book, authored by Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D., and Andrea Henderson Fahnestock, is still available through the museum’s online gift shop.

Memorial by Andrew Emil, age 11

“The Day Our World Changed” is “dedicated to the children of the New York area, but most especially those who lost a parent on 9/11.” Every piece of art submitted was created by a child from the New York area.

One depicts gray skyscrapers against a stark black background with REMEMBER written along the top in bold yellow letters. A part of the skyline is missing. Another shows a mother and young son from behind as they hold hands and stare at burning towers along the horizon. Another features two grey towers, each with a beautiful blue eye weeping red tears.

“From the hundreds of artworks submitted for this project,” writes Goodman, “some common themes emerged.” These themes include the actual attack (shock, anger), the city in mourning (sadness, fear), heroes and helpers (compassion, cooperation), memories and tributes (longing and honoring), and hope and renewal (symbols, patriotism).

Some are narrative, observes Goodman, while others are dramatic. All are a testament to children’s empathy and resiliency. “The children’s art makes clear that there is no right or wrong way to feel,” writes Goodman. “We want children to know that their voices are important and that art is an extraordinary way to give voice to concerns.”

Mourning Sun by Wanda Martinez, age 17

Today as we remember and reflect on 9/11, may the children of the world inspire us to hope rather than hate.

Turn down the noise. Transform cynicism to service. Gather your crayons–and the ones you love.

We have a future to color.


Note: Click here to visit the Museum of the City of New York and here to visit the NYU Child Study Center.

Update: A collection of these works will be exhibited at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in lower Manhattan, which is scheduled to open to the public on 9/12/11.