Finding the Helpers
I have another blog with book recommendations prepared to publish today, but after seeing all the posts about 9/11, I decided heroes would be a better, more appropriate topic. When my daughter was in elementary school, we always choose a subject to explore during the summer as a way to keep her from sliding back. The summer between 1st and 2nd grade she choose World War II after seeing Anne Frank, and so we delved into stories of that war. After reading (actually sobbing through) Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War by Yukio Tsuchiya and Ted Lewin, I had enough of sad, painful tales and decided that her little brain did not need more either (as an aside, I still recommend that book). I started a search for books about the heroes of World War II, and found a few. My message to her was that bad things happen, mean people exist, but there are always those who will make it better and will help.
9/11 happened the fall after that summer. I remember my daughter’s sweet little face asking me how such a thing could happen, and I reminded her of what we had learned that summer. Bad things and mean people have always existed and probably always will, but we could choose to be a helper and a healer. We could always choose to do the right thing, and there would also always be good people who would do the same. While I had had my doubts about studying World War II with a 7 year old, I was so very grateful that we had those discussions and that as a result she was better prepared to deal with the horror of that awful day. It was after that I heard Fred Roger’s quote: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’” for the first time. So here are a few books about painful events where people stepped up and were helpers.
I encourage you to read them with your child, and to talk about ways they can be helpers, reassure them that there will always be someone to take care of them, and reaffirm that good exists and will triumph no matter what.
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy and Henri Sorensen
This book is the story of King Christian X of Denmark who saved the majority of Danish Jews from concentration camps during World War II.
Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochisuki and Dom Lee
Tells how one Japanese ambassador saved thousands of Jews by granting them passports during World War II.
New York’s Bravest by Mary Pope Osborne
The story of volunteer firefighter, Mose Humphreys, who lived in the 1800s in New York city.
September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right by Masterson Elementary Students, Masterson Elementary Student
Written by elementary school children, this is tale that is less about helpers and more about knowing that everyone will be OK even after something horrible happens.
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman
The story of a restored fireboat that helped come to the rescue on 9/11.
As always, please, feel free to comment and to recommend other books about heroes and helpers.