I considered holding this post off until September, but with the tragedy in London, I thought it would be okay to share today.
Almost everyone can remember a defining moment in time. My grandmother can probably tell me where she was when she heard about Pearl Harbor. My mother knows where she was when the JFK assassination was announced. My sister, who is 7 years older than me, remembers the Challenger explosion vividly, and I can tell you where I was when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers. For our generation of Americans, that moment is something most of us will never forget.
But there is a whole new generation of kids who weren’t even alive when it happened — when the world changed for so many. We can tell them about it, in September they can watch any number of specials about it, and there are great picture books geared towards presenting the tragedy to kids. I have recently found two middle grade chapter books about that day. Today I want to share one of them with you:
Nora Raleigh Baskin is the author of this story that follows 4 children, Sergio, an African American boy from New York City, Naheed, a Muslim girl from Ohio, Aimee, a Jewish girl from Southern California, and Will, a Caucasian boy from Pennsylvania. Normally, the ethnicity or religion of characters would not figure into the description, but Baskin wanted us to see how different the children are.
I wanted to show how in the end this tragic, divisive event actually brought complete strangers together instead of tearing them apart, which is, I imagine, the ultimate goal of terrorism.
This book was written so well that I had a hard time stopping. The chapters are labeled with times, so you can feel the story moving toward the inevitable climax. I think middle grade students could get a real feeling for how the world changed in the blink of an eye. I had a few students read it this year and they gave it good reviews too.
Why do we want to expose our kids to the sad and tragic events of the past? We must learn from history so that we don’t repeat it, but for another reason, I think. The sad and scary truth is that the next generation and every generation after will have moments like this that they will have to face. By showing how we have unified to overcome the hate that brings about attacks like this, perhaps we are providing them with a guideline of how to overcome their own tragedies.
Because the world changed that day, slowly and then all at once.