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Opinion: Understanding Terrorism Through Literature

I feel heartbroken today on the 11th of September. It’s not a heartbreak that belongs to me. It’s one for the families of those who died and for the survivors and rescuers who witnessed the horror. I was reading an article earlier that talked about explaining to children what happened when the Twin Towers collapsed. I hadn’t given thought to the fact that they weren’t born to witness it.

Some authors have written a number of books with this in mind. They’re designed to help children understand the events and it’s clear that they’ve been carefully written with a respect for the enormity of the attack. They’re also written to inspire hope rather than fear which is crucial given the political landscape today’s children may inherit. Here are a few of the titles if you were interested in taking a closer look.

1.September Rose by Jeanette Winter. (Fiction)



2. America is Under Attack by Don Brown. (Non-Fiction)


3. The Survivor Tree by Cheryl Somers Aubin, illustrated by Sheila Harrington. (Fiction)


4. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Fiction)


5. Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin (Fiction)


Storytelling has always been used as a method to simplify the complex and lead to better understanding. Yet part of me worries that these stories could be used to replace discussion, rather than to encourage it. I sincerely hope these can counter some negativity being broadcast and will enable adults to discuss terrorism with an emphasis on compassion and understanding.
How do you feel about 9/11 being portrayed in fiction for young audiences?

Is it too soon and do you think it will have the desired impact?

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

(All pictures courtesy of Goodreads)







2 thoughts on “Opinion: Understanding Terrorism Through Literature

  1. I think it’s very important: it’s hard for me to realize that the 18 year olds of today were only 3 when it happened, so they have no recollection. We need to pass the memories onto the youth, or else history is doomed to repeat itself. I think it’s wonderful that they are trying to reach the children. I wish they would play the live footage for all to see in certain grades so that the students know how necessary it is to “never forget.”
    Great post!


    1. So true, it was so overwhelming, that’s what makes it feel so recent. I still feel vividly how I felt at the time. So true, it’s really important to understand why events like this happen. Individuals have so much power to make a difference when someone is becoming radicalised too. It’s an enormous challenge, but we all have to take responsibility for educating the young people around us in schools and at home. I think these books are a good piece of what needs to be a much larger puzzle.

      Thanks for reading!


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