Talking To Kids About 9/11 – A Book Review of “Eleven” by Tom Rogers

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It’s hard to imagine, but school-aged children today either weren’t born yet when 9/11 happened or they were too young to remember it.  How do you talk about such a tragedy with young kids?

Recently, I was asked to write an honest review in return for a free copy of the young adult book, Eleven, by Tom Rogers.  I agreed, thinking that it might be a good book for Sweet Hippie Daughter to read in September, as we get the school year rolling.

The book has 40 chapters, many only a page or 2 long and it’s a quick read. I finished it in 2 days. It moves quickly and never loses your attention for a moment.

The story is told from the perspective of Alex, a little boy who is turning eleven on September 11, 2001.  For the most part, the entire book is about that one day in the boy’s life.  I think that most any young reader would find Alex to be an extremely relatable character. He wakes up, the morning of his birthday, full of hopes and expectations. He struggles a bit to listen and follow the rules the way he knows he should. He encounters bullies and friends on the way to school and then he’s sent home early for reasons none of the kids understand.  He finds himself swept into a series of events as he realizes that The World Trade Center has been attacked and his father, who works there, might never be coming home.

Along the way he meets and befriends Mac, an elderly man whose son also works in the Twin Towers and Radar, “The World’s Best Dog.”

I felt the author did an extraordinary job of presenting the human side of what happened on that day. You can almost feel the confusion of the children as they are sent home from school for “no reason,” the fear of the parents when they send the kids out to play in the yards with a strict “no TV” rule, and the powerful bonding of the citizens of New York as they came together to face something unlike anything they’d known before.

The book is honest in depicting the violence of what happened and the reader, at more than one point, finds themselves in the midst of the destruction, surrounded by the wounded, dead and dying. That said, at no point was the story overtly gory or sensationalist. The focus was put on the thoughts and feelings of the survivors, their will to help one another, and their longing to get home and embrace their families.

There is little, if any, mention of politics. It is the story of what happened on that one day and, if memory serves, on that day none of us really knew or understood why the bombers carried out their acts of terror.  We only knew that we’d been attacked and we were frightened and seeking answers – just like the characters so vividly brought to life in the book.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Eleven to anyone for themselves or their child. It’s an interesting book to read but I think it would also serve as a great platform for opening up a discussion about 9/11 and all that led up to it and followed it.  I intend to have my 5th grader read it this September.

Talking To Kids About 9/11 - A Book Review of "Eleven" by Tom Rogers | Lazy Hippie Mama

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