September 4, 2016

It is hard to believe it is the 15th anniversary of 9/11.  As adults we can remember that day so vividly. However, the students we have in front of us had not even been born. They have only known life after 9/11. Here are some titles, both fiction and nonfiction, to help students at this age understand that time in our history.


Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Goodreads summary: From the critically acclaimed author of Anything But Typical comes a touching look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers.

Ask anyone: September 11, 2001, was serene and lovely, a perfect day—until a plane struck the World Trade Center.

But right now it is a few days earlier, and four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Nadira has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Amy is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business.

These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. Award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin weaves together their stories into an unforgettable novel about that seemingly perfect September day—the day our world changed forever.

Here is a review of the book and a link to his interview with author Nora Raleigh Baskin by teacher Patrick Andrus.


14 Cows for America

by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Goodreads summary: In June of 2002, a ceremony begins in a village in western Kenya. Hundreds of Maasai surround an American diplomat to bestow a gift on the American people. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away. Word of the gift will travel news wires around the globe. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hopeand friendship. Master storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy hits all the right notes in this story of generosity that crosses boundaries, nations, and cultures. An afterword by Wilson Kimeli Naiyomahthe Maasai warrior at the center of the storyprovides additional information about his tribe and their generousity. Thomas Gonzalezs stunning paintings are saturated with rich hues of oranges and browns and blues and greens, which capture the nobility of the Maasai people and the distinctive landscape of the African plain.

Here is the book trailer for 14 Cows for America.


Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Goodreads summary: There is a ship, a navy ship. It is called the USS New York. It is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about the USS New York. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the governor of New York gave the Navy a steel beam that was once inside one of the World Trade Towers. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana. Metal workers heated the beam to a high, high temperature. Chippers and grinders, painters and polishers worked on the beam for months. And then, seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ships bow. This powerful story reveals how something remarkable can emerge from a devastating event.

Here is an interview with Janet Nolan, author of Seven and a Half Tons of Steel.


Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

by Maira Kalman

Goodreads summary: The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboatof its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. In this inspiring true story, Maira Kalman brings a New York City icon to life and proves that old heroes never die.


America is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell

by Don Brown

Goodreads summary: One of School Library Journal‘s Best Nonfiction Books of 2011
One of Horn Book‘s Best Nonfiction Books of 2011

On the ten year anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, a straightforward and sensitive book for a generation of readers too young to remember that terrible day.

The events of September 11, 2001 changed the world forever. In the fourth installment of the Actual Times series, Don Brown narrates the events of the day in a way that is both accessible and understandable for young readers. Straightforward and honest, this account moves chronologically through the morning, from the terrorist plane hijackings to the crashes at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania; from the rescue operations at the WTC site in New York City to the collapse of the buildings. Vivid watercolor illustrations capture the emotion and pathos of the tragedy making this an important book about an unforgettable day in American history.

If you would like a comprehensive list of 9/11 books take a look at my friend Mrs. Knott’s blog post.



The Dot

by Peter H. Reynolds

Goodreads summary: With a simple, witty story and free-spirited illustrations, Peter H. Reynolds entices even the stubbornly uncreative among us to make a mark – and follow where it takes us.

Her teacher smiled. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”

Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can’t draw – she’s no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. “There!” she says.

That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti’s journey of surprise and self-discovery. That special moment is the core of Peter H. Reynolds’s delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us.


International Dot Day is celebrated around the world on September 15ish. Mrs. Mendez, our art teacher, is doing a Dot Day project with the fourth grade.  We will create bravely and connect with students who are celebrating Dot Day in other parts of the country that week.

*Fun Fact: You can visit the Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham, MA, which is owned by The Dot author Peter H. Reynolds. It is less than an hour drive from Barrington and a LOT of authors and illustrators do book events there.  If you go, be sure to get your picture taken in front of the blue bunny statue!

*Fun Fact: Peter H. Reynolds publishes a magazine with submissions entirely by student writers ages 5-12.  To learn more, click this link to HUTCH magazine. And please keep me posted if your child submits an article for the magazine!

Featured Author/Illustrator of the Week


Bryan Collier

We are so lucky to have Bryan Collier attending the Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Books and Authors at Lincoln School in Providence on Saturday, October 15th. Bryan is the recipient of six Coretta Scott King awards as illustrator as well as four Caldecott honors! He will be speaking about his craft and signing books at the festival.  We will be raffling off free admission tickets the week before the event. Click on his name to learn more about him and his incredible work.


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