Towers Falling (hardcover)
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
AR Level 3.3, 4 points
I got on a 9/11 kick and wanted to read all of the books written for children so I would have them for my class library in September. I feel like we are doing a disservice to our students if we aren’t teaching them what happened to the Twin Towers. I ordered this one and let my students read it first, and each one LOVED it and said I had to try it.
Deja is a homeless girl living in a shelter with her parents and two younger siblings. Her dad is ill and shellshocked, but she doesn’t understand why he can’t work, and she has to pick up his slack. Deja starts at a new school and meets 2 new friends – one boy is a transplant from Arizona whose parents recently divorced, and the other is a Muslim girl who is the kindest person Deja knows. Their teachers spend September teaching them about why history is important, building up to the terrorist attack, and Deja learns a lot about her family, her friends, and her existence.
What I liked about this book was that it taught several important lessons, including the power of friendship, judging individuals instead of groups of people, and the impact history can play on the present. I really appreciate how Rhodes taught about 9/11 through a good piece of literature so our students can learn about what happened somewhere besides a history book. We need to make sure they understand WHY we say “Never Forget.”
What I didn’t like about this book was how ignorant Deja was about the entire situation. It was very frustrating to me that she lived in Brooklyn her entire life, but was clueless about what happened. How is that even possible?!
Book 1 of Summer 2017!
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story (ebook)
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
AR Level 4.8, 5 points
I heard about this book when I was looking for books about September 11th. I realized my students weren’t alive and know very little. I was shocked last year when several of them had no idea what the day meant. While this isn’t a book that teaches about what happened, it does show snapshots of what it was like for different people. It follows 4 students: one Muslim girl, one boy in Brooklyn, one girl in California whose mom was headed to the Twin Towers, and one boy in Pennsylvania where a plane crashed into the ground. This book shows what it was like for a seventh grader on this day.
What I liked about this book was that it recounted this day that I experienced as an adult, but from a child’s perspective. We also learned about their background, the problems they were facing, and how those problems were put on hold. I also appreciated that a Muslim was a character, because we could see how the millions of Islamic Americans were targeted and mistreated. I think this would be a good reminder for students.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I felt there could have been more to it. It is a good snapshot, but it doesn’t really teach about 9/11. It is more about these 4 kids who happen to all experience 9/11 in this book. Perhaps what I was wanting from this book is different from the author’s intention or purpose for writing it.
Book 33 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
Somewhere Among (paperback)
by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu
No AR Quiz Yet
Somewhere Among is the story of Ema and her family living in Japan during 2001, the year the twin towers fell. Ema’s mother is American, and her parents live in California. Ema’s father is Japanese, and his parents live near Tokyo, Japan, which is where Ema and her mother are forced to stay since Ema’s mother is in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy and is put on bed rest. It is a difficult summer for the family, because Papa has to stay in Tokyo and commute on weekends to visit his family, and Ema’s grandmother is a strict woman with high standards for behavior, being a traditional Japanese woman. Ema has to learn to adapt to her new environment and school for the sake of her new baby brother or sister’s survival. And then, September 11th comes around, and her American family is depressed and afraid. Ema has a lot of growing up to do in a short period of time, something no fifth grader should have to endure, but it is an interesting slice of life piece, and we learn more about that period in history from the perspective of a different country.
What I like about this book is that is is written in verse. This has been my new genre lately, it seems. I cannot get enough of novels written in poetry form, and I am always looking for new ones. I will read nearly anything written in verse or as a graphic novel. I also appreciate that the book was written from the perspective of a Japanese-American (or American-Japanese) girl around the age of my students. I was able to see what it was like for people in other countries, as well as from a child’s perspective.
What I did not enjoy about this book was that there were relationships that were left unresolved. Masa was not taken care of. I felt that Ema’s relationship with her grandparents could have been better described or defined. Her father was not in the picture very often. I felt really sad for Ema, because it reminded me a little of my own daughter, who needs a lot of attention and is often pushed aside, because I have other concerns, health issues, etc. It isn’t that we don’t take care of her and give her attention, but she often needs more attention and will act out if she doesn’t get it.
Book 10 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)