Thanks to Kid Lit Frenzy, I made a goal to read more children's nonfiction this year which I will be featuring on my blog every Wednesday.
A year ago today, I did a blog post about The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein. I'm going to recycle some of that post since I'm using the same book again this year to commemorate the Twin Towers. I'm updating it, though, since we're focusing on the theme topics of journeys with my 5th graders and crusaders with my 6th graders this month. We talked about the tightrope walk being quite a journey and that Philippe Petit had all the traits of a crusader (someone who sets out to change something or break down barriers).
Today marks the 12th anniversary of 9/11 and this year I'm teaching 5th and 6th graders. I think it's more important than ever to keep remembering that day so that children who weren't even a sparkle in their parents' eyes in 2001 realize what that event was like for all of us who lived through it. It's also cathartic for us who remember it clearly to tell our stories. Stories are what bond us in good times and bad. That day we saw what humanity was in its rawest form - as horrified as we were by the evil, heroism shone its brightest alongside it. Isn't that what the best stories are made of ? The reluctant hero defeats the most evil of villains.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein is the true story of a French man named Philippe Petit who, in 1974, threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. It's a great way to share the whimsy, dreams, and determination of people while remembering one way the World Trade Center became a part of our lives. Kids love the story, and it's age appropriate for middle graders. Many made connections right away to recent stories: Nick Wallenda and Diana Nyad. We watched clips of all three on YouTube and talked about the human spirit and what makes people want to break down boundaries to accomplish the impossible. All three embarked on journeys that prove that dreams can come true and barriers are meant to be broken.
So today, I hope you shared your story and listened to the stories of others, and remember to live each moment to its fullest. The human spirit is strong and inspiring; we saw it that day on September 11, 2001 in the heroes who saved lives and helped others, and we see it today in ordinary acts of kindness and extraordinary feats of daring.
Other Picture Books About 9/11
Let us know what you do with your students to remember the day.