Starting the conversation about 9/11 with elementary kids can seem like a daunting task. Here are some picture books and chapter books that can help with age-appropriate stories and additional resources.
Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016
Four kids are dealing with ordinary life on September 10, 2001, unaware that everything will change the next day. 208 pages, grades 3-7.
Me and the Sky: Captain Beverley Bass, Pioneering Pilot by Beverley Bass with Cynthia Williams, illustrated by Joanie Stone
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2019
This is mostly the story of Beverley Bass, one of the first women to pilot commercial airlines. The 9/11 connection? She was flying a plane on September 11 that got diverted to Newfoundland, and her experiences there were part of the musical Come From Away. Includes additional information about Beverley, her experiences on 9/11, and her role in founding the International Society of Women Airline Pilots. 40 pages, grades 1-5.
Big Apple Diaries by Alyssa Bermudez
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Alyssa Bermudez used her real diaries from seventh and eighth grade to create this graphic novel that takes place in New York City from 2000 to 2002, including her experiences of 9/11. 288 pages; grades 4-7.
Survivor Tree by Marcie Colleen, illustrated by Aaron Becker
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021
I haven’t seen this book yet, but it tells the story of a tree pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, nursed back to health in another location, then moved to the 9/11 Memorial, where it stands today. 48 pages; ages 4-8.
Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11 by Julie Gassman, illustrated by Steve Moors
Published by Capstone Press, 2016
After the attacks of 9/11, bridges, subways, and roads were closed, with more than a million people trying to get out of Manhattan. The Coast Guard put out a call for any kind of boat to come help, and almost 500,000 people were transported in nine hours, the largest sea evacuation in history. Includes an author’s note telling of her 9/11 experience being rescued by a boat, a brief glossary, and a few additional resources and source notes. 32 pages; grades 3-7.
Ground Zero: A Novel of 9/11 by Alan Gratz
Published by Scholastic, 2021
On 9/11, Brandon goes to work with his dad, a restaurant worker at Windows on the World. After the plane crash, they’re separated, and Brandon has to try to rescue his father and get them both to safety. His story is interspersed with Reshmina’s, a girl in Afghanistan who witnesses horrific events on September 11, 2019, very timely with current events in Afghanistan. Includes a lengthy author’s note with historical information. 336 pages, grades 5-8.
Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez
Published by Peachtree Publishers, 2016
The story of USS New York, a Navy ship made of steel taken from the World Trade Center. There’s not a lot about 9/11 in this book, but it’s an interesting story to supplement with some other resources. An author’s note gives more facts about the USS New York and the meaning of the different colors and symbols of its crest. 36 pages; grades 2-5.
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016
Deja’s family is struggling with homelessness in New York City. When her new school begins a curriculum studying 9/11, Deja begins to understand more about the impact of the event on her father, and why he is no longer able to work. 240 pages; grades 4-6.
The Red Bandanna (Young Readers’ Adaptation) by Tom Rinaldi
Published by Viking, 2017
Some people who escaped the World Trade Center told a story of being helped by a young man with a red bandanna covering his face. Gradually the story emerged of Welles Crowther, a 24-year-old trader, who from childhood had dreamed of becoming a firefighter. 176 pages; grades 5-8.
Published by Henry Holt and Co., 2021
Another story of The Survivor Tree, this one narrated by the tree itself. Includes an author’s note; a two-page history of the World Trade Center, 9/11, and the Survivor Tree; a note on the illustrations; and a list of six sources. 48 pages; grades K-5.