Tag Archives: Art for Heart

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

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Kids remember 9/11

This 9/11 Peace Story Quilt on exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was designed by Faith Ringgold. It features three panels created by NYC students ages 8-19.

Folks in NYC have plenty of art-related opportunities to reflect on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this week. An art installation “made from 9/11 dust” and paintings “which contain ash from ground zero.” A quilt featuring NYC’s skyline and a quilt with three panels crafted by NYC students (pictured above). www.metmuseum.org.

A roving memorial called “Dances for Airports.” A concert for peace featuring the Juilliard String Quartet. A release of balloons inscribed with poetry in several languages. Even a human chain open to anyone who wants to join hands in Battery Park at 8:46am on Sept 10.

Work by a student from the Calhoun School class of 2006

My favorite events and exhibits feature the words and works of youth — like a series of collages created by 31 thirteen year olds who started 8th grade together at Calhoun School that tragic day. Their “9/11: Through Young Eyes,” a project coordinated by teachers Helen Bruno and Jessica Houston, will be exhibited at the D C Moore Gallery in Chelsea Sept 8 – Oct 8. www.dcmooregallery.com.

Several Arizona youth are participating in a community memorial service called “Moving Memories — Moving Forward.” The Sun, Sept 11 event is being presented by the Arizona Interfaith Movement, which seeks to “build bridges…through dialogue, service and the implementation of the Golden Rule.”

It’s taking place from 11:30am-12:30pm at the 9/11 memorial located at Wesley Bolin Plaza. The plaza is adjacent to the Arizona State Capitol at 17th Avenue and Adams Street just west of downtown Phoenix. Program highlights include remarks by Donna Killoughey Bird, a mother of two whose husband Gary Bird (a UA grad and longtime resident of Tempe) died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

High school student Kris Curtis will play the national anthem on trumpet after emcee Pat McMahon opens the ceremony. Following several prayers and speakers, ten children will “say the Golden Rule from ten different faith traditions.” www.azifm.org.

Eighth grade students from the Temple Emanu-El Kurn Religious School in Tucson will lead a “9/11 Interfaith Memorial Service” Sun, Sept 11 (10am) at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging. www.handmaker.org.

A new book titled “Art for Heart: Remembering 9/11” (with introduction by Alice M. Greenwald) features drawings, murals, paintings and poems by children who were affected by the terrorist attack.

“The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11” (by Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D. and Andrea Henderson Fahnestock) began as a project of the New York Child Study Center in NYC. It was published several years ago, but it’s every bit as compelling today.

Many of the works featured in “The Day Our World Changed” have been donated to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, which first opens for families on 9/11 this year. The general public can visit the museum (with pre-purchased tickets due to high demand) starting 9/12. My daughter Lizabeth plans to tour the museum this week with other students from Pace University. www.911memorial.org.

NBC airs a Darlow Smithson Productions documentary titled “Children of 9/11” tonight, Sept 5, but folks who miss it can watch local listings for rebroadcast information. More than 3,000 children lost a parent on 9/11, and this special follows 11 of them for a period of one year.

The Day Our World Changed includes this work by Matthew Sussman

If you missed the Sept 1 broadcast of “What Happened? The Story of September 11, 2001,” a 30-minute Nickelodeon program geared for younger viewers, you can watch it online — then read an online discussion guide created by psychologist Robin H. Gurwitch, Ph.D. for Nickelodeon and the American Psychological Association. www.nicknews.com and www.parentsconnect.com.

Stories of more than 40 twins who lost a sibling on 9/11 are the subject of a BBC Wales documentary titled “Twins of the Twin Towers.” It’s being broadcast on Sun, Sept 11 on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Be thoughtful, in the days ahead, about how much time you spend watching programs that show the traumatic events of 9/11 in graphic detail. Most aren’t suitable for children, and even kids who didn’t lose a loved one on 9/11 can feel traumatized by exposure to the events of that day.

— Lynn

Note: Donna Killoughey Bird will share her story several times in comings days. Hear her speak Tues, Sept 6 (noon) at the Mustang Library auditorium or Thurs, Sept 15 (6pm) at the Civic Center Library auditorium in Scottsdale (Register at www.scottsdaleaz.gov). Or meet her Sun, Sept 11 (3pm) at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, where she’ll be signing “Nothing Will Separate Us” (part of the proceeds go to scholarships, service awards and educational support for young adults). www.changinghands.com/event.

Coming up: 9/11 takes center stage, Children’s books inspired by 9/11

Update: Find a collection of children’s drawings from “The Day Our World Changed” at www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/911children