Tag Archives: The Day Our World Changed

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

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

Gifts of art

James told me a proper "Stage Mom" needs a Broadway Cares tote bag

The arts were front and center as we celebrated Christmas this year. Everyone got books — and mine included Stephen Sondheim’s “Finishing the Hat.” There were Broadway Cares T-shirts, totes and such — all in support of Equity Fights AIDS.

My son Christopher gave me a nifty camera that’ll fit in my pocket or purse for those times I find myself unexpectedly at the scene of an arts adventure — whether a street fair, a gallery collection, a museum exhibit or a student performance.

Jennifer made me a lovely piece of original art — an homage of sorts to my “Stage Mom” blog. It’s a twist on an IOU for a notebook she’s putting together with copies of each of my nearly 500 posts.

Since so many of my art musings double as miniature memoirs, I want to be sure my children have them to read once I’m farther along in the circle of life.

The Sondheim, of course, was a gift from Lizabeth — who is enjoying her last Christmas living at home before heading off to college in the fall.

This gift spent plenty of time in others' hands before I got to really enjoy it

I called that one before I even unwrapped the box, since the book has a rather distinctive size and shape — and since I’d just seen a Sondheim appearance on “The Colbert Report.”

I held the wrapped book up to my forehead a la Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent” from “The Tonight Show” of so many years ago — predicting that it contained Stephen Sondheim.

The Carnac bit went over the heads of everyone in the room except my hubby and his parents as Lizabeth assured me that she had not, in fact, stuffed Sondheim into the package. Alas.

My in-laws gave me a lovely piece of garden art and other treasures — including a tote bag from the National Audubon Society, which I dearly love because it pictures two owls. My mother collected owls for many years and they remind me of her still. (Figurines, not live birds.)

Apparently friends and family prefer that I write about art rather than making it myself. No fingerpaints. No canvas. No clay. It would be enough for them, I suppose, if I could master the art of taking a really good photo.

A very special friend thought to hunt down a book I adore but haven’t been able to locate in town — “The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11.” That darling child caught on video snubbing a book he got from Santa has much to learn.

Several of the gifts we exchanged, like this 2010 Tony T-shirt, support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

I have much to be grateful for this holiday season — including the opportunity to experience the riches of art, music, theater and dance in a world where so many people don’t even have a roof over their heads or food to feed their families.

If you’ve been especially moved by an arts experience in your community, consider giving something of yourself to assure that Arizona arts and culture remain vibrant for future generations.

A financial gift before the end of the year. A regular committment of volunteer service during the New Year. A resolution to spend more time enjoying the arts with friends and family.

With all the arts have given us, now is the perfect time of year to give back…

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the arts scene in Arizona and ways you can get involved, visit the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts and the Arizona Humanities Council.

Coming up: Stage Mom’s “Best of Broadway” quotes, Music & memories, Outdoor concert fun

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.

–Lynn

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.