Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - sharing with our children (ages 8-12)

On September 11th, 2001, ten years ago today, shock rippled around the world as we grasped what had really happened. For me, I felt very removed from the horrific events. With young children at home, I only watched small amounts of it on television. But soon, oh so soon, we realized how this tragedy affected all of our lives. Last Friday night, I started thinking more and more about how to share this with my older children - now 10 and 12. They were too young at the time to remember any of what happened - this is now history to them, and yet a history very close in adults' memories. We were browsing in our local bookstore - Mrs. Dalloway's - and I bought a copy of 14 Cows for America. It's a beautiful book that helped us begin the conversation.
14 Cows for America
by Carmen Agra Deedy
illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
GA: Peachtree, 2009
ages 8 - 12
2010 E.B. Read-Aloud honor book for picture books
available at your local library and my favorite bookstore
Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah was a young man when he came to the United States to study, and he was in New York City on September 11th, 2001. The next spring when Kimeli returned to visit his family and Maasai tribe in Kenya, he still felt New Yorker's pain searing through his heart. Carmen Agra Deedy and Thomas Gonzalez tell Kimeli's remarkable story of how he and his tribe honored the people of America.
"To heal a sorrowing heart, give something that is dear to your own."
Kimeli's elders taught him this lesson when he was a young boy in Kenya, and he recalled it as he sorted through his emotions after the devastating sorrow caused by the 9/11 attacks. He decided that he would offer a cow. "The cow is life," to the Maasai people. When he asked his village elders for their blessing, they too wanted to offer something, another 13 cows for the American people. These cows have remained in Kenya, taken care of and honored by this Maasai village, in memory of the pain and suffering that the American people experienced on September 11th, 2001.

This book is incredibly beautiful and moving - I am afraid that I cannot do justice to it. I hope to read it again and again, soaking in its message of honoring and reaching out to those suffering, its message that we all can offer comfort and support to others, no matter how far away we might be. To get a sense of Thomas Gonzalez's stirring artwork and Carmen Agra Deedy's beautiful telling of this story, watch this book trailer:

One of the things I like best about using this book to talk about 9/11 with children is that it does not focus on the disturbing images of the event, but rather on the effect and how we can react when tragedy strikes.

I purchased this book for our home library from our local bookstore Mrs. Dalloway's, and will also purchase a copy for our school library.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

1 comment:

  1. 9/11 attack has been a prominent event added to our history. People rejoice can now rejoice because justice has been served.