Talking to Your Kids About September 11th


Talking to our kids about tragedy is hard. How do we bring it up? Should we bring it up? How do we make sure they know they’re safe?

As a former teacher, I have a little bit of experience in talking to kids about hard things; school shootings, drugs and alcohol, natural disasters … things like that. One of the hardest things for me to talk about has always been September 11th.

It might be because I still remember that day so well. Where I was, who I was with, the uncertainty of the future. Honestly, I think I just wanted to guard those little hearts as long as I could. But I knew I couldn’t avoid the hard conversations and at the end of the day I really felt like I shouldn’t. Yes, talking about tragedy and death is hard and uncomfortable, especially with kids. However, remembering tragic events allows us the opportunity to honor those who lost their lives. 

We can choose to speak of the heroes of that day and the many days that followed. We can educate our children and speak truths, while also being uplifting and maybe even inspiring.  Maybe you’ll write letters to service members overseas or maybe you’ll donate dinner to your local fire station or police station. Maybe you’ll just take an extra few moments in your nightly prayers. I’m not here to tell you when, or why, or even if you should talk to your kids about September 11th. If you’re interested though, here are some amazing resources to help you get started. 


All of these books are available at Richland County libraries. These are just a few of the books I was able to find, there aren’t many, but you can find more options on Amazon and through other booksellers. 

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

by Maira Kalman

This is a great book for young children. Most of this picture book focuses on the history and eventual restoration of a fireboat named the John J. Harvey. There are a few illustrations depicting the events of September 11th. They are abstract enough to be kid friendly yet do a wonderful job of communicating the chaos and events of the day.  

Talking to Your Kids about September 11th - Columbia SC Moms Blog

War on Terrorism series

by Nancy Louis and Jill C. Wheeler

This is a much more technical choice and a great resource for older children, especially those who prefer facts and real photographs. September 11th, 2001: The Day That Changed America (Jill C. Wheeler) talks about the events of September 11th and what happened in the days following. Heroes of the Day and Ground Zero (both by Nancy Louis) focus more on specific details of the attacks. There are some pretty heavy topics covered and some of the photos might be scary for some children… so definitely glance at it for yourself first. 

I Survived: The Attacks of September 11th

by Lauren Tarshis

I love this series of books. My 2nd graders loved these books too. They are fictional stories woven around true events and told from the perspective of a child. This book mostly focuses on Lucas and his dream to play football, but when his parents tell him he can’t play anymore he skips school to go visit a family friend in New York. Lucas is in NYC on September 11th during the terrorist attacks and the book does a good job of really reliving the events of the day. Accurate and kid-friendly.

Online Resources

Check out the below resources for more information on conversation starters, activities, lesson plans, and other amazing resources. 

How do you discuss 9/11 with your kids?

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Originally from Indiana, Carey moved to South Carolina in 2009. She and her husband, Brett, met during college at USC and now reside in Forest Acres. She is an elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom to two wonderful boys. After struggling with infertility for years, their son, Milo, joined their family in November of 2017 through domestic adoption. In March of 2020 baby River joined the family via embryo adoption. In addition to being a SAHM, Carey works in Social Media Management, is a babywearing educator, and a postpartum doula. She enjoys writing, iced coffee, road trips, and connecting with other mamas online. Her passions include adoption ethics and education, infertility, mental health advocacy, plus size life, and social justice issues. You can follow Carey’s motherhood journey and more on Instagram at MessyAsAMother.


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