The 20th Anniversary of September 11th: A Reading List

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”― Martin Luther King, Jr.
No matter how old you were or where in the world you were, September 11, 2001 was a monumental moment in American History. This year marks the 20th anniversary of that fateful day on 9/11, and sometimes, after a little time and a little distance, we turn to books for additional context. Through different perspectives, experiences and stories, we will never forget the moment that changed us as a nation.

 

I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 (I Survived #6)
Lauren Tarshis

This pulse-pounding addition to the popular I Survived series seamlessly weaves together the facts surrounding the horrific events of September 11, 2001 with an enthralling story of a boy named Lucas who happened to be at his father’s firehouse on that fateful day. This powerful yet age-appropriate volume is sure to start important conversations between children and caregivers.

 

Towers Falling
Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes is a master of storytelling for young people, and Towers Falling is no exception. Set 15 years after the attacks of Septesber 11, 2001, Towers Falling is a powerful tale about a classroom of students in Brooklyn who weren’t alive on 9/11 but come to understand the long-lasting effects the tragedy has had on their community, families and the world as a whole.

 

The Day the World Came to Town Updated Edition
Jim DeFede

On September 11, 2001, in the hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, several small Newfoundland towns took in nearly 6,700 people on 38 planes forced to land at Gander International Airport. The needs were not small ― food, lodging, clothing, diapers, prescriptions, caffeine, and hugs ― and the town turned out, turned up, fed, clothed, housed, embraced them all with a generosity that stunned, dismayed, delighted, and inspired. A gem of a story in the center of a storm.

 

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11
Mitchell Zuckoff

Mitchell Zuckoff’s Fall and Rise is an invaluable work of contemporary history, a stirringly compelling narration of the events of 9/11. Eschewing the political questions of why and how, Zuckoff focuses instead on reconstructing what happened when, what it was like to be there, to have been present on that day, under those circumstances, be it in a plane or on the ground, as a survivor or a rescuer. Detailed, powerful, revelatory, a work for now and for future generations looking for a deeper, visceral understanding of a day that reverberates still.

 

Survivor Tree
Marcie Colleen

Told against the backdrop of changing seasons with gorgeous, detailed illustrations, Survivor Tree observes a Callery pear tree from sapling all the way to maturity. For 30 years, the tree went mostly unnoticed in the shadows of the World Trade Center until the day the whole world changed — 9/11. From the wreckage, workers found unexpected green and as the nation healed, so did the tree, ultimately being replanted back home — at One World Trade Center.

 

Ordinary Heroes: A Memoir of 9/11
Joseph Pfeifer

True heroes are almost by definition “ordinary.” Galvanized in a moment, they are individuals who often unexpectedly ― to others and to themselves ― step forward toward need and persevere. Joseph Pfeifer is one of those heroes, one with a calm, steady and ferocious stride. What he saw, what he experienced on September 11, and how it changed the trajectories of his life make for a heartbreaking, eye-opening, and awe inspiring read.

 

with their eyes: September 11th: The View from a High School at Ground Zero
Annie Thoms, David Levithan (Foreword by)

With Their Eyes is a compelling collection of firsthand accounts written by the students of Stuyvesant High School who were just blocks away from the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001. This thought-provoking work offers unique insight into the transformative events of that day and the ways in which it shaped so many lives.

 

What Were the Twin Towers?
Jim O’Connor, Who HQ, Ted Hammond (Illustrator)

Loaded with facts and information, What Were the Twin Towers? is a detailed history of the architectural marvels that were the Twin Towers and the shocking events that led to their falling on 9/11. This nonfiction account is a must-read for young people learning about September 11th for the first time.

 

Ground Zero
Alan Gratz

Told in alternating perspectives set 18 years apart, Ground Zero is an extraordinary story about one of the most devastating days in US history and how it continues to reshape our world so many years later. This tale of survival, fear and hope will stay with readers long after the last page.

 

I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 (I Survived Graphic Novel #4)
Lauren Tarshis, Corey Egbert (Illustrator)

Complete with full color artwork, this graphic novelization of <i>I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001</i> is a great way to teach reluctant readers about the shocking events of September 11, 2001. In addition to the captivating story about a young boy named Lucas, there is also nonfiction back matter that further enhances the read with real-life facts and photos.

 

September 11: The 9/11 Story, Aftermath and Legacy
Associated Press, Robert De Niro (Foreword by)

With news bureaus around the globe and key photographers and journalists on the ground, The Associated Press is uniquely situated to document not only the events of September 11, 2001, but the days and years that followed, nationally and internationally. September 11 is the entire story, unfolding from day 1 to year 20; timelines, human-interest accounts first-person recollections, both new and archival, and a wealth of dramatic and moving photos. Providing key historic and current information on a global canvas, this is the most comprehensive accounting to date.

 

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
Garrett M. Graff

The Only Plane in the Sky — such an evocative title — is a monumental and moving oral history, documenting the stories of those who lived through and were personally caught in the maelstrom of 9/11. Where were they? What do they remember? How were their lives changed? Graff’s deft weaving together of voices from that day is both tender and riveting; the read is propulsive; the takeaway is the powerful eloquence of everyday individuals in the face of momentous tragedy.

 

30,000 Stitches: The Inspiring Story of the National 9/11 Flag
Amanda Davis, Sally Wern Comport (Illustrator)

Shining a light on the true spirit and resilience of the United States, 30,000 Stitches follows the story of the tattered American flag that flew over Ground Zero and then criss-crossed the country as it was repaired, visiting communities facing adversity. Finding the unrelenting resilience in the face of tragedy, Amanda Davis and Sally Wern Comport created a true tribute for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11.

 

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story
Nora Raleigh Baskin

Four very different kids, four very different lives forever changed by the same devastating event. Nine, Ten is a bittersweet story about four children from all over the country in the days leading up to September 11th and the varying ways in which it directly affected each of their lives. This ultimately hopeful novel will help young readers build understanding and empathy for those around them.

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