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.