I've been sharing resources with you in the afternoons, trying to offer a little reflection of our days. This morning, I read three books with my children over breakfast.
A few years ago, my mother attended a book signing by author A. B. Curtis. She bought a book for my children and mailed it to them. I have to admit I was skeptical of a children's book about the tragedy of September 11, 2001. How do you capture the horror in rhyming verse and whimsical pictures? You don't. Instead, Ms. Curtis tells the story of St. Paul's church, an historical church that stands fewer than 100 yards from where the towers stood. The chapel became a refuge and launching point for the rescuers who were on the scene. Every time I read the book tears well in my eyes at the thought of the fireman who hung their shoes on the chapel fence before they went into the towers:
Oh what gallant men did we lose
Who never came back to get their shoes!
The book is a gentle re-telling. Our children are surrounded every day by references to the horror that forever changed our world. They will ask what "9/11" means and they surely deserve to be answered. But, they should not see that footage and they should not be bombarded with remembrances more appropriate for grief-stricken, terrorized adults. Childhood is all too brief. Very soon, they will be old enough to learn the details of the day. For now, this book tells them a story of hope amidst the charred ruins. A story we all need to hear.
You can read the entire book and see the pictures here. But get the book. Really. It's worth holding in your lap.
Fireboat is a whimsically illustrated children's book that tells the story of John J. Harvey, a fireboat that witnessed the growth of New York city throughout the 20th century. There are lots of intersting little things to learn about culture and about fireboats. It's a gentle, happy picture book. Then, the book takes an abrupt turn and becomes stark when the author reaches September 11, 2001. She focuses onthe heroes and not on the violence, but this is still a very realistic book and the whimsy evaporates into the bright blue sky, just as it did that Septmember day. It's a good read and it's story that somehow sticks with us long after the covers of the book are closed. I strongly suggest parents preview it--you might you want to use it with children older than the typical picture book age. To extend the conversation, you might visit the John J. Harvey website or take a peek at the study guide for the book.
It's not technically a 9/11 book, but I love to read (sing) Wendell Minor's inllustrated version of America the Beautiful. On the page where we sing, "Thine alabaster cities gleam/Undimmed by human tears" Minor has painted a picture of the fallen tower site with the towering lights gleaming upwards to commemorate the loss. It's an image that just fits that particular place in the song written so long before the event. And this book, this song, these words--they do so much to heal hearts and remind us of the blessings of this great country.
Nicholas squirreled away for awhile with A Nation Challenged (the Young Readers' Edition).
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Then, this afternoon, we all sat together and spent some time thinking about peace. We were guided by one of the excellent e-courses offered by Mariah Bruehl, author of Playful Learning, easily one of my favorite educational resources.
This course, Be a Peacemaker, is an opportunity for parents and children to discuss with each other ways to bring peace into ourselves, our homes, and ultimatley, the world.
Over the course of conversation, we shared what comforts us, what brings us peace. I could see Katie plotting ways to make the house smell like the Basilica next time she thinks I need to bring a little calm into my soul. At first, I was going to exclude Stephen and Mary Beth from the lesson time, but I invited them to join instead. As she set off with her printable, Mary Beth (nearly 17) asked, "Will you use this to help us next time we feel stressed?" Good plan. I think these are keepers, for sure.
Have a very peaceful evening friends!