Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9/11

In 2001, I was an undergrad at the University of Maine at Farmington. I wanted to be a teacher so that I could share my passion for literature and learning with teenagers. My plans and thoughts were a bit idealistic going into my student teaching experience, but that's the joy of youth.

And then September 11th came.

My idealism vanished.

Our country was thrown into a deep mourning, a place of fear and revenge and chaos and mourning. My students were scared. They (and I) had had no reason to think that the safety and security of their nation could or would ever be compromised. We just grew up believing that America was impenetrable.

In the place of flowery lesson plans, I began to think about bringing the real world into the classroom. I thought that maybe students would feel more informed and engaged in school if they could talk about the events they were watching on the nightly news in school. I started a collection of YA lit that was reality-based and that dealt with issues that some students might want to delve into on a deeper level.

9/11 is a day that I will never forget. It was a day of silence. Nine years later, I want to fill some of that silence with the voices of authors and survivors who have written about this tragic day. My current students (ages 14-19) were fairly young when the Twin Towers fell. Many of them barely remember the events of that day. But all of them remember their feelings of fear and sadness. All of them.

So, I am creating a collection of YA books (or adult books that could be of interest to teens) that deal with this subject matter for my classroom. These are the books that I have. I would like more. If you know of a book (or a poem), please feel free to leave a comment and I will grow my collection of resources.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard

With Their Eyes: September 11th: The View from a High School at Ground Zero by Annie Thoms


  1. I like your approach to teaching. I like how you want to incorporate the real world into the classroom. I think that's very important. So many people (including myself) are naive when they step out of high school and even college.

  2. I was gonna suggest The Usual Rules but you already have it on your list.

    I agree with aLmYbNeNr...your kids are lucky to have you as a teacher =)

  3. I agree - this is a great and beautiful idea. Thank you!

  4. i was in college, too and lots of my students are too young to remember it at all. It really put history into perspective for me because there are lots of historical events that aren't as "real" to me because I didn't live them. It is so important to talk to kids about what has happened in the past.

    Last year I was in a classroom on 9/11 and the reading teacher read The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein. It is a picture book and it talks about the towers before they were destroyed and what they stood for. I thought it was refreshing to read about a more positive time for the towers but still allowed for remembrance.



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