Five resources to help explain 9/11 to a child

What is the best way to explain 9/11 to a child?  This is something that I wish none of us ever had to ask ourselves. It has been 16 years since I witnessed the horror of my fellow New Yorkers walking uptown in a haze, covered in dust.  I can never erase those images from my heart and mind.  I never want to.  We must always remember the victims and their families. We must always appreciate the bravery of the first responders and we must never give in to hate.

My son is ten years old.  He was born six years after 9/11.  Up until he was almost nine I avoided any mention of the terrorist attacks near him.  I thought I had all the time in the world until burdening him with grown up issues.  I was wrong.  One night he came into the living room wide-eyed and upset.   “In ancient times New York City was attacked by bad guys who flew planes into our buildings and killed everyone.  I’m glad we were not here then!”  I asked him where he had heard this and he said he was reading the “Who is Derek Jeter?” book by Gail Herman.  The attacks are mentioned in reference to the Derek Jeter and his teammates generosity to children who lost their parents.  I had some explaining to do.

We had a long conversation.  I explained that Mom and Dad were living right here in Manhattan at the time and like everyone else in the country, we were very scared.  A year has passed and I am still being questioned as to why there are bad people in the world who would want to hurt everyone.  The topic is hard to grasp for anyone, yet alone a young and innocent mind.  Our initial conversation was very generic but afterwards I immediately started to search online for ways to talk to children about 9/11.  I knew that the questions were going to keep coming in greater detail.

The five resources below can help you decide how best to talk to your children about 9/11:

-9/11 Memorial.  The 9/11 Memorial has posted the most comprehensive resource available.  There are downloadable guides to talking to children as well as lesson plans to teach about the event on an age appropriate level.




-September 11 explanation and heroes video

It has been 16 years and I still get upset thinking about the terrible events of 9/11.  I am sure you do as well.  I hope that these resources help you navigate through one of the toughest conversations you will likely have with your child.

  • Babies to Bookworms

    These are so helpful. I was just thinking this morning about how I will have to explain it to my daughter one day. I’m sure she will ask us if we remember where we were, just like I have asked my parents the same questions about historical events in their lives.

  • shelah moss

    Thank you for the helpful resources. This is a difficult topic for children to understand.

  • Thanks for these. It was hard explaining 9/11 to my daughter last year because they talked about it in school. I don’t think my son is quite old enough to grasp it, but it’s nice to know that when I’m ready to talk to him about it there are resources to help. Thanks for sharing these!

  • It is so hard explaining this to my sons. My 7 year old came home talking about how they discussed 9/11 a little bit at school and just hearing him talk about airplanes flying into buildings and the mean guys made it all so real to me again. Great resources that I will definitely check out!

  • Amanda Elize

    These are some great resources to shed light on a difficult topic to speak about with our littles. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Such a timely and important post.

  • Angela

    This is such a difficult topic for adults to understand, let alone kids. Thank you for sharing these resources. I never would have thought to check Scholastic.

  • Sharon Chen

    Very helpful post! All these links are loaded with information enough for kids to understand.

  • Patricia

    This is truly helpful. Difficult circumstances that are beyond our adult comprehension are even more challenging to navigate for our little ones.

  • Elena Stevkovska

    I find this topic difficult to understand myself, and I think that we adults are still struggling with. I still remember the breaking news about 9/11.

  • tabithablue

    Oh I need to check these out for sharing more with my kids, thank you!

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