On September 11, I ordered a book that I thought might be a good one for my 8-year-old daughter to read to help her discover what happened on 9/11/2001. She’s reading at a 5th grade level, so I got the book because it’s in her AR reading level. (AR levels are standardized levels to help parents pick books to challenge their kids.) Because it is a book about a sensitive historical event, I decided to screen it by reading it first. I’m glad I did. It is a beautiful book and story, but it was a bit too “old” for my 2nd grader. The book is Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes. I would recommend this book for 5th and 6th graders as a way to introduce them to what happened on 9/11 and I even enjoyed it as an adult, but I don’t think the majority of younger children would be ready for it. I will want my daughter to read it in a few years. I loved the diversity in the story and the way that what happened on 9/11 was revealed slowly through the main character’s exploration and growth.
I have decided to pre-read any books that I feel might have sensitive content so that I can decide if they are okay for my children. I don’t want to keep them from reading about hard things, but I want to make sure they are ready for what is being presented to them. I’ve even chosen to read some books that are more advanced out loud so we can discuss them and I can make sure the kids are understanding different concepts. It’s less about censoring and more about sheltering until the time is right. I think it’s especially important, in our case, since my daughter is an advanced reader and is reading books far above her grade level. <— Mom brag. 😀 It’s not a hard task for me to read books before her or with her because I enjoy reading, too!
I remember my parents doing this when I was young, but they stopped when we were in junior high. My mom and I would share books in junior high and high school, but she didn’t pre-read things for me.
How do you feel about this parenting strategy? Did you do something similar? Did your parents do this for you?
My daughter’s teacher read a book that was age appropriate on 9/11 and I’ll recommend it to you too: Fireboat by Maira Kalman. It was an indirect approach to telling the story of 9/11, but it was a beautiful story about the heroism that happened that day and how people came together to help each other in the face of a huge tragedy. I got to hear the story, too, since my daughter’s class is currently meeting on Zoom. It was lovely and I went to order us a copy of that one, too.
Have you read any books (for adults or children) about what happened on 9/11/2001? Would you recommend them?