It’s hard to believe that September 11, 2021 marks twenty years since the terrorist attack that rocked the nation. Every year, many who remember that day experience the grief, terror, and heartache all over again. But just as many may not remember that day — or may not have been born yet. Whether you’re someone who remembers the day quite clearly or you’ve only been told about the events, we’ve put together two lists of books for you to read during this monumental anniversary.
This first list includes books that specifically deal with the events of that day, from commemorating heroes to revisiting the actual events. The second list look at how the events of 9/11 affected people for months and years afterward.
September 11 Remembered
Greene, Jacqueline Dembar
The 2001 World Trade Center Attack. 2007. (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
This book for beginning readers details the attacks on the World Trade Center through the harrowing stories of those who braved the tragedy. Kids will meet Captain Jay Jonas and firefighters from Ladder Company 6 in New York, as well as Chief Pitch who teamed up with Jonas to carry trapped victims to safety. The book includes candid, on-the-scene photos and quotes from primary sources, giving first-hand accounts on the terrifying events.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey. 2005 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboat of its time, but by 1995, the city didn’t need old fireboats anymore. So, the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames.
Heroes of the Day. 2002 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
There were many heroes on the tragic day of 9/11, and this book describes the actions of them all. From emergency telephone operators to police officers and firefighters, to trained dogs and individual citizens who helped in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, you’ll get the full picture of the many acts of heroism through full-color photographs, diagrams, maps, and descriptions.
The Red Bandanna. 2017 (Middle Grade Nonfiction).
One Sunday morning before church, when Welles Crowther was a young boy, his father gave him a red handkerchief for his back pocket. Welles kept it with him that day, and just about every day to come. Now, Welles is fresh from college; he’s recently taken a Wall Street job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center and volunteers for the local fire department. And he’s missing. On the day the Twin Towers fall, Welles’s parents have no idea what’s happened to him. And in the unbearable days that follow, they come to accept that he’ll never be coming home. However, Welles’s mother reads a news account one night and listens to first-hand stories from a group of people who were seriously injured on the 78th floor of the South Tower — and they all talk about the man wearing a red bandanna that saved them.
I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001. 2012 (Middle Grade).
The only thing Lucas loves more than football is his Uncle Benny — his dad’s best friend at the fire department where they both work. Benny taught Lucas everything about football. So when Lucas’s parents decide the sport is too dangerous and he needs to quit, Lucas has to talk to his biggest fan. The next morning, Lucas takes the train to the city instead of the bus to school. It’s a bright, beautiful day in New York. But just as Lucas arrives at his uncle’s firehouse, everything changes.
September 11 Aftereffects
Deedy, Carmen Agra and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah
Illustrated by: Thomas Gonzalez
14 Cows for America. 2009 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
In June 2002, a ceremony begins in a village in western Kenya. Hundreds of Maasai surround an American Diplomat to bestow a gift on the American people. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. A true story of how many people around the world grieved with America after 9/11.
Q. S.327.676073 D36f
Friedman, D. Dina
Playing Dad’s Song. 2006 (Middle Grade).
Gus Moskowitz knows that sixth graders are too old to curl up under a quilt, but that’s the only place he can hide from the school bully, his nagging older sister, and — worst of all — his father’s death. It’s been two years since Gus’s father was killed in the World Trade Center, and Gus can’t figure out how to move on. His mother thinks he needs to do something, so she rents him an oboe and signs him up for lessons with her boss’s elderly father, Mr. M. As Gus’s friendship with Mr. M. develops, so does his passion for classical music, and soon he decides to compose a song of his own — a tribute to his father. But even if Gus can find a way to wrap up his father’s life in a single song, will he ever find the courage to play it?
Love is the Higher Law. 2009 (Teen).
The lives of three teens — Claire, Jasper, and Peter — are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore in Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him. Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event that causes loss and grief — but also hope and redemption as they must learn to move forward with their lives.
Up From the Sea. 2016 (Teen).
In March 2011, Kai loses nearly everyone and everything he cares about to a tsunami that devastates his coastal Japanese village. When he’s offered a trip to New York to meet kids whose lives were changed by 9/11, Kai realizes he also has a chance to look for his estranged American father. Visiting Ground Zero on its tenth anniversary, Kai learns that the only way to make something good come out of the disaster back home is to return there and help rebuild his own town. Told in verse, this novel explores disasters — natural and man-made — and the ways kids learn to cope.
Shine, Coconut Moon. 2009 (Teen).
Seventeen-year-old Samar, a.k.a. Sam, has never known much about her Indian heritage. Her mom has deliberately kept Sam away from her old-fashioned family; it’s never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam’s house, and he turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. When Sam decides she wants to learn more about her family, some boys attack her uncle, shouting, “Go back home, Osama!” and Sam realizes she could be in danger — while also discovering how dangerous ignorance can be.
All We Have Left. 2016 (Teen).
Two girls, two time periods, one catastrophic event that changed their lives. In the present, sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down, and the only way to make amends is to face the past. In 2001 (the past), sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim…it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia is determined to show her parents that they must respect her choices. She’l start by confronting her father at his office in downtown Manhattan — putting Alia in a danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers, Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours, she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them.
Illustrated by: Thomas Gonzalez
Seven and a Half Tons of Steel. 2016 (Nonfiction Picture Book).
There is a ship — a navy ship. It is called the USS New York. It is big like other navy ships, and it sails like other navy ships, but there is something special about the USS New York. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the governor of New York gave the Navy a steel beam that was once inside one of the World Trade Towers. The beam was driven from New York to a foundry in Louisiana. Metal workers heated the beam to a high, high temperature. Chippers and grinders, painters and polishers worked on the beam for months. And then, seven and a half tons of steel, which had once been a beam in the World Trade Center, became a navy ship’s bow.
Q. S.623.8256 N7115s