It's the middle of summer and hard to imagine school starting up. But I read Towers Falling by Jewel Parker Rhodes back in April and immediately thought that this new book by the author of Ninth Ward would be the perfect read aloud for the coming school year.
September 11, 2016 is the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, a day that will forever be etched in my memory. Rhodes does a fantastic job on this novel in many ways.
First of all, although this day is unforgettable to those of us who were alive when it occurred, 9/11 is something that occurred before any of my elementary students were born. Some have heard of it, while others have no idea about this important day in our nation's history. Rhodes discusses how important history is to us - recent history and history that happened long ago.
Rhodes' characters have differing experiences with 9/11 themselves. Although Deja is from New York, she lives in Brooklyn and knows nothing about the events of the day. Sabeen is a Muslim whose family suffered because of the color of their skin, and Ben has moved to New York from his Arizona ranch, upset about his parents divorce, but full of information about 9/11 because of his father's military experience.
These three fifth graders meet and become friends, working together as their teacher begins to teach them about home and community while working toward learning about the towers falling.
It is through these lessons that Deja begins to question what happened to her family - especially her dad- and realizes her own connection to the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.
I loved this book which explains 9/11 in a way that won't scare young readers or give more information than they are ready for. I felt like this book is a perfect read aloud, although there are times when it almost felt a bit too much like it set out to teach something (I also felt this way about Jacqueline Davies' Lemonade War, but my students loved it, which just goes to show that it's hard to be an adult trying to predict whether a kid will love a book or not).