It’s rare for me to read the “Sunday Business” section of The New York Times. I’m more of a “Sunday Review,” “Sunday Styles,” front section, “Metropolitan,” “Travel,” and “Book Review” (in that order) kind of person. However, as I was searching for the “Sunday Review” section this past weekend, the “Sunday Business” section’s front page caught my eye. Pictured on the front of the business section was Howard Lutnick, the chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald. The picture of him at the top of the article, “The Survivor Who Saw the Future for Cantor Fitzgerald,” sucked me in; reminding me of the tremendous losses Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond business, suffered on September 11th when 658 of their employees were killed. Nearly one-fourth of the people who perished in New York City on September 11th worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. The article was about the way Lutnick has responded to his critics and how he rebuilt his business since the September 11th attack. The article, which was published one week prior to September 11th, made me realize how much time has passed since the attacks.
The children sitting in most American classrooms were either very young or not even born on September 11th, 2001. However, it’s imperative that we teach children, in age appropriate ways, about this day. It’s something I struggled with quite a bit when I was a classroom teacher. (For more about the ways I taught September 11th to my fourth graders, you can click here, here, or here.) I was in Manhattan on the day of the attacks, but was fortunate not to be downtown when the planes hit the World Trade Center. I always questioned how I could teach my students about September 11th without scaring them with the descriptions of the smoke that billowed into the sky or the smells of death that rose uptown as the wind shifted. It’s hard to teach about September 11th in a way that will inform, but won’t scare children, isn’t it?
I chose to use books when I taught about September 11th. Some of my favorite books to teach with were 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein, Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman, and September 12th We Knew We Would Be All Right, which was written and illustrated by former first grade students at Byron Masterson Elementary in Kennett, Missouri.
Several online resources have popped up in the past couple of weeks that deal with teaching children about September 11th:
- Joan Brodsky Schur, author of Eyewitness to the Past, provides teachers with five essential questions to help students think deeply and compare September 11th to other events in history.
- Learn more about the 9/11 Memorial. There’s a whole “Teach and Learn” section devoted to educating children about the September 11th Attacks.
- Rethinking Schools offers educators different principles they can discuss with students.
- Suzie Boss wrote an incredible post for Edutopia that is chock-full of resources to help you teach about September 11th. Some of the resources she mentioned are to the The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project and the September 11th Personal Stories of Transformation video series, which is for grades 5 – 12.
- The New York Times‘ Learning Network features resources about “why” and “how” you can teach students about September 11th.
- USA Today‘s Greg Toppo wrote an article entitled “Teaching 9/11 history to students too young to remember.” It includes links to more online resources about September 11th.
If you have other ideas or online resources for teaching school age kids about September 11th, then please leave them by posting a comment.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.