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Teach Your Kids About 9/11 Through Books (Giveaway)

I’ve been asked in the past what we do, as a Fire Family, to teach the Brothers about September 11, 2001. I wrote (on our old blog) about a book that we still recommend. But I have a new book to recommend this year.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (2002) is a children’s book you have to pick up. Whether your children are too small right now to sit through a 48 page book or old enough to have a fuzzy memory of that fateful day, it is a must-add to your library.

As a Fire Family, using firefighter related stories to teach our children about important historic events is an easy route to go. However, it’s not just easy for those who are immediately touched by fire service. A large majority of children (and adults, for that matter) are fascinated by fire trucks, firefighters and fire life in general. Using a fire based story to teach about something as monumental as 9/11 is an easier way to teach a very, very tough subject.

Fireboat starts out in 1931 with the launching of the John J. Harvey fireboat. Not familiar with fireboats? That’s a shame. It’s pretty interesting if you start to research it. (I’m surprised that my River Pilot dad hasn’t ever talked this up to me.) Basically, fireboats put out fires on/near/around the river, including on piers. The John J. Harvey fireboat was “among the most powerful fireboats ever in service.” But she retired in 1994 and was sold, at auction, in 1999. So what the heck does this history lesson about an old boat have to do with 9/11?

A lot. Trust me.

The John J Harvey was purchased by a private group (of friends) interested in keeping her from being sold from scrap. They had her fixed up, repainted and she went back, happily, to the river. And then September 11th smashed into our lives. And the owners of the Harvey responded to the call. While no one ever expected the Harvey to ever help put out another fire, you must remember that the pipes around the World Trade Center were heavily damaged and broken. The Harvey, who initially began helping by ferrying people to safety, returned to the site where firefighters attached their hoses and began pumping water to put out the fire(s).

Now that you know the history, I have to tell you, the book is fascinating. Written on a child’s level, it’s a history lesson for an adult as well. I learned things that I didn’t previously know. And I learned them while being captivated by the illustrations of Maria Kalman. And by captivated I do mean awe-struck, inspired and generally struck-silent-while-simultaneously-reading-aloud. It’s seriously one of the better illustrated books that we now own.

BigBrother is currently loving this book which we have been reading, now, for a week and will continue reading through September 11th of this year. He asks questions like, “What’s that?” And my answer is, “The Statute of Liberty.” To hear him repeat me is heart-warming. We’ve learned lots of things about boats in general, firefighting in New York and, well, yes, 9/11. He knows, now, that two planes flew into two buildings and people got hurt. And, really, that’s about as age appropriate as it needs to be at this point. The book does not go into horribly graphic detail though it does mention that “lives were lost.” He also knows that Harvey helped the firefighters get water to put out the fire and that the boat was a hero. He “gets” putting out fires as that is what his Daddy does. And he thinks that being a hero is really awesome right now. And so, all in all, the book is a positive experience for him.

Do I cry when I read the next-to-last page? Yes. My eyes mist. I’m reminded of everything and everyone lost. I’m forced to deal, in a brief instant, how my own life changed in the aftermath of that awful day. But then BigBrother points, again, to the Statue of Liberty and he asks questions and through his wide, oh-so-innocent eyes, I am able to see hope again. I am able to keep reading, finish the book and say a prayer with my precious oldest son (while the younger one is usually crawling all over us).

Is there controversy surrounding reading a book with such a subject matter to children? I’m sure. But, I’ll be honest, I don’t subscribe to that kind of thought process. Unfortunately and fortunately all at the same time, our sons will be raised with the knowledge and understanding that nothing is really “safe” and that their Dad risks his life every time he heads to work. We’re big on historical learning here as we’re kind of nerdy (What? You didn’t know?) and our children will be raised with the knowledge that 9/11 changed lives. We will read books like these. We will answer questions as they occur. And we will teach our children about such things.

And you can have your chance as well. I’m having a SUPER SHORT GIVEAWAY for the paperback edition of Fireboat. It starts now (obviously) and will run through 8:00pm tonight. At that point, I’ll hit random.org for a winner, hit Amazon to order the book, select one-day shipping and have your book mailed directly to your door. One Day shipping is brought to you via Amazon Prime. (Only $3.99 for one day shipping. Two day is “free” with your membership.) It should make it to you no later than Wednesday, September 10th at that point and I’ll keep you updated with the tracking number and info. Since we’re doing this in such a short amount of time and considering you might not be available to contact at 8:00 tonight, we’re doing something different than the comment to enter type of giveaway.

TO ENTER: It’s past 8:00pm now on September 8, 2008 and the giveaway is now closed. Thank you. (Commenting does not enter you.) Winner to be announced shortly.

I hope that the winner (and those that choose to purchase the book after reading this post) will be moved by the story, the illustrations and their children’s innocent, genuine and thoughtful questions and discussion of the book. The Fire Family reviewed this book (which we purchased on our own) because we believe in the message and the concept. We will never forget.

5 replies on “Teach Your Kids About 9/11 Through Books (Giveaway)”

Thanks for letting me know about this book. I’ll definitely have to order it if we don’t win this giveaway. I’d love to be able to explain more to Kaylin about September 11, especially since she’s now in Kinder and will be learning more about it in school soon.

Kellys last blog post..My Quirks

This book looks amazing. We will definitely have to read it with my son one way or the other. I agree that giving your kids a realistic look at the world is good for them. Lots of things are scary but that doesn’t mean we should ignore them. Plus, I run a small in home daycare and I think this book would be good for all of my kiddos to learn about. They will be hearing about all of it very soon. Thanks :)

Marys last blog post..Birth Story

I still shudder when I think of 9/11/01. My daughter was almost 18 months my son just a wish. I find I can’t talk much about it without choking up (we lived just outside of Boston at the time and knew many people directly affected by the dire events of that day).

I know I need to explain this to her (she’s 8 now), but I struggle to find the words that won’t utterly terrify her. This is a kid who won’t watch Finding Nemo because Bruce the shark scares her. She’s never seen Beauty and the Beast for the same reason.

We have since moved to a more rural setting and frankly she lives in a bit of a bubble. I don’t shelter her intentionally, it is just a small town and rather a bucolic life. I will find the words, but it is hard.

This might be a good introduction. Who knows, maybe we’ll win it!

Reesies last blog post..Summer’s over

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