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11 New and Noteworthy Children’s Books About September 11

Check out these picture books about September 11 for kids. The best books with lessons and activities to help elementary students understand September 11th. This list of books about 9/11 will help you teach your first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth grade students about this event. Whether you teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade, these books and attached September 11th lessons for kids will make teaching easy!

Teaching the subject of September 11th can be tricky. It’s one of the most iconic events in recent American history, and there aren’t many picture books on the subject. Here I talk about my favorite children’s books about September 11 that will help your elementary students understand this important event in history. All of these books about September 11th are perfect for a variety of grade levels despite all being picture books for September 11.

Picture Books For September 11:

This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth

In the 1970s, nestled between the newly completed Twin Towers in New York City, a Callery pear tree was planted. Over the years, the tree provided shade for people looking for a place to rest and a home for birds, along with the first blooms of spring.

On September 11, 2001, everything changed. The tree’s home was destroyed, and it was buried under the rubble. But a month after tragedy struck, a shocking discovery was made at Ground Zero: the tree had survived.

Dubbed the “Survivor Tree,” it was moved to the Bronx to recover. And in the thoughtful care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Callery pear was nursed back to health. Almost a decade later, the Survivor Tree returned home and was planted in the 9/11 Memorial to provide beauty and comfort…and also hope.

Check out the lesson and activities for This Very Tree HERE

Have a Google Classroom? Get the digital lessons and activities HERE

Fireboat by Maira Kalman

Check out these picture books about September 11 for kids. The best books with lessons and activities to help elementary students understand September 11th. This list of books about 9/11 will help you teach your first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth grade students about this event. Whether you teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade, these books and attached September 11th lessons for kids will make teaching easy!
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This is my recommendation for first grade all the way up to fourth grade.

It tells the story of the John J. Harvey fireboat. It was an old fireboat that used to be used to put out fires along the waters of New York City for years. It had fallen into disrepair until a group of friends decided to repair it. On September 11th, it was called back into duty to help the other fireboats put out the fires at Ground Zero.

This book is great because it teaches students about what is likely a new subject: fireboats. With this book I focus on how the author uses illustrations to help the reader understand the HUGE number of new vocabulary words.

Check out my lesson plan and activities for Fireboat HERE

Have a Google classroom: Check out my lesson plan and GOOGLE activities

Check out these picture books about September 11 for kids. The best books with lessons and activities to help elementary students understand September 11th. This list of books about 9/11 will help you teach your first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth grade students about this event. Whether you teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade, these books and attached September 11th lessons for kids will make teaching easy!
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The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

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This is another book that can be used (and I have) with younger students from first grade up through fifth grade.

It tells the story of Philippe Petit and his daring walk between the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. It’s a Caldecott Medal winner, so the illustrations are amazing putting students right in the Man on Wire’s point of view at times. Even though this story does not directly deal with the events of September 11th, it does reference them at the end of the book in a way that is accessible to young students.

Check out my lesson plan and activities for this biography HERE

Saved By The Boats by Julie Gassman

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This is definitely a book better suited for older students than Fireboat. I would recommend this one for third grade up through sixth grade.

It is a narrative nonfiction account by Julie Gassman that tells about how boats from all around the city helped the people of Manhattan evacuate on 9/11. I really like this book because the illustrations are stunning, but also because it’s told as a story. The author’s note at the end is also of particular note. Julie Gassman tells her own personal story of evacuation by sea on September 11.

There is also a great multimedia connection to this book: a video interviewing some of the boat captains and evacuees. It is called Boatlift (click for the link). The video really helps students visualize what happened and hear a firsthand account of the story. With this story’s structure, I talk with students about firsthand and secondhand accounts since the book offers both. This is probably one of my favorite books about September 11.

Check out my lesson plan and activities for Saved By the Boats HERE

Have a Google classroom: Check out my lesson plan and GOOGLE activities

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan

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This is another book I really recommend for slightly older students. I think this one could be enjoyed by second grade up through sixth grade depending on how deep you get with your analysis.

This tells the story of how a seven and a half ton steel beam from the World Trade Center became part of the bow of a new Navy ship the USS New York. It explains the beam’s journey from Ground Zero to surviving Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where it was affixed to the USS New York to the New York’s return to NYC on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Boys who love statistics will love the back matter as it tells about other interesting facts about building the ship. The illustrations are also VERY thought-provoking showing the moment just before the first plane hit the Twin Towers.

Check out my lesson plan and activities for Seven and a Half Tons of Steel HERE

Have a Google classroom: Check out my lesson plan and GOOGLE activities

Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen

This hopeful story of a resilient tree that grew (and still grows) at the base of the twin towers is a simple introduction for young readers to gain an understanding of September 11th and the impact it had on America.

One September day, the perfect blue sky exploded. Dust billowed. Buildings crumbled. And underneath it all, a tree sprouted green leaves in its distress. Pulled from the wreckage, the tree saw many seasons pass as it slowly recovered far away from home. Until one day, forever scarred and forever stronger, it was replanted at the 9/11 Memorial.

Check out these picture books about September 11 for kids. The best books with lessons and activities to help elementary students understand September 11th. This list of books about 9/11 will help you teach your first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth grade students about this event. Whether you teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade, these books and attached September 11th lessons for kids will make teaching easy!
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Other Picture Books About September 11?

A popular suggestion for books on September 11 is 14 Cows For America by Carmen Agra Deedy. It’s one of the few books about September 11 that can also be found in Spanish (14 vacas para America). The illustrations are AMAZING.

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What’s not to like? It IS a great book, however, in terms of teaching about September 11, it deals with it in a way that is very vague. I would use this book to teach fourth grade and up students to use illustrations to infer meaning. I’ve tried this book with younger students and they could not make the connection. I probably would not use it to teach about what happened on September 11th.

The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story is another good book, but I hesitate to suggest it because it can be very difficult to find in libraries. You can find it on Amazon, though. This book can be used throughout all of elementary, though.

My final picture book I would recommend is The Little Chapel That Stood. Remember how I just said that the previous book was hard to find? You may need to be independently wealthy or actually go to New York City and visit the chapel to buy the book in the store. Either that or if you find this in your library, you’ve got a GREAT library.

Hesitate to teach September 11? 
Don't! Check out these picture books about September 11 for kids. The best books with lessons and activities to help elementary students understand September 11th. This list of books about 9/11 will help you teach your first, second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth grade students about this event. Whether you teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th grade, these books and attached September 11th lessons for kids will make teaching easy!
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Chapter Books About September 11th:

Nine, Ten: A September 11th Story

four kids in different parts of the country are going about their lives. Sergio, who lives in Brooklyn, is struggling to come to terms with the absentee father he hates and the grandmother he loves. Will’s father is gone, too, killed in a car accident that has left the family reeling. Naheed has never before felt uncomfortable about being Muslim, but at her new school she’s getting funny looks because of the head scarf she wears. Aimee is starting a new school in a new city and missing her mom, who has to fly to New York on business.

These four don’t know one another, but their lives are about to intersect in ways they never could have imagined. Award-winning author Nora Raleigh Baskin weaves together their stories into an unforgettable novel about that seemingly perfect September day—the day our world changed forever.

Ground Zero

September 11, 2001, New York City: Brandon is visiting his dad at work, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center. Out of nowhere, an airplane slams into the tower, creating a fiery nightmare of terror and confusion. And Brandon is in the middle of it all. Can he survive — and escape?

September 11, 2019, Afghanistan: Reshmina has grown up in the shadow of war, but she dreams of peace and progress. When a battle erupts in her village, Reshmina stumbles upon a wounded American soldier named Taz. Should she help Taz — and put herself and her family in mortal danger?

Two kids. One devastating day. Nothing will ever be the same.

Conclusion

These are just a portion of the many picture books about September 11. These, though, by far, are my favorite. Is there a really good book out there that I did not list? Let me know in the comments.

If you want to really dig deep and teach this subject to your students, you can check out my September 11 Read Aloud Bundle by clicking on the link below. As in all things, I think the best way to teach it is through great storytelling, and the books in this bundle and on this list are a great start.

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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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