Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11 Anniversaries

Because of today’s 15th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 events, I’m exploring how picture books might be used at such a time. I’m offering 2 very different examples of the many picture books that have been published to commemorate and remember that horrible day. I recently went to a library where there was a featured shelf with about 12 books about those historical events. You’ll find even more books about 9/11 for sale on-line.

Some of you might think that such a dark subject has no positive purpose in your faith family. Here are some hypothetical contexts in which talking about 9/11 with children or teens in a faith context might be a good idea:

1.      Your faith family is located in the geographical regions most affected by 9/11 so your children are often exposed to anniversary events and comments.
2.     Your church likes for children’s programming to be connected to sermon series. An upcoming series will be on remembering 9/11 events and its consequences.
3.     You want to teach important historical events to children in a homeschool or private school setting and want to explore theological/faith aspects of that day and its repercussions.
4.    You are teaching a series on how our faith influences perseverance. The events of 9/11 will offer much in the way of conversation for the tweens and teens in your faith family.
5.     You want to explore the concept of generosity by using the fabulous picture book 14 Cows for America [PBT post here], a book about a Kenyan community’s response to 9/11. You think some 9/11 background information would be helpful.
from America is Under Attack by Don Brown
Be sure to choose your books with sensitivity to your audience’s ability to understand the events and handle the emotional content. Pay close attention to illustrations or photos to ensure that they are appropriate.
Picture Book: America is Under Attack
Author & Illustrator: Don Brown
Summary: This picture book moves chronologically through the day, recalling what happened to all 4 planes, the rescuers, and witnesses with sensitive illustrations that are honest but not sensational. The stories of real people are shared and their words are used.
Hanna’s Comments:  An award winner, this book is perfect if you want to present a lot of the story, but you don’t want to expose your audience to actual photos of those horrific events. Because there is so much content, you might want to read it over 2 sessions. In the back you’ll find the Author’s Note and a bibliography. This book is one in a nonfiction series called Actual Times.
Original Publisher & Date: Roaring Brook Press, 2011
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections:  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18); teach us to count our days (Psalm 90:12); in the world you will have tribulation… (John 16:33); help the weak (Acts 20:35)

Picture Book: September Roses
Author & Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Summary: This is a true story written after the author saw an arrangement of roses representing the 2 towers soon after the 9/11 events. Two sisters from South Africa fly to New York City to attend a flower show. With them they have packed 2400 roses and their hopes of success. Upon arrival in NYC, the events of 9/11 are in process. Stranded in the airport with their roses and nowhere to go, a man offers to take them in and suggests the perfect place for their roses. 
He takes them downtown to artistically add their roses to the memorials that are quickly being placed. 
Hanna’s Comments: This is a very different sort of 9/11 book, it’s short and the events of 9/11 are adjacent to the story. It highlights the vast influence of 9/11 events on bystanders. Here you have opportunities to explore the spiritual practices of hospitality, empathy, and artistry adapted to difficult circumstances. 
Factual details are in the back that you should share, especially since their hosts were actually a faith community, the First United Methodist Church of Flushing, NY. This is a very small book; having multiple copies of the book might make sense.
Original Publisher & Date: Frances Foster Book, 2004
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 7 and up, 2nd and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Whatever is true, … whatever is lovely, think about these things (Philippians 4:8); do not forget to show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2)