This Day in History
Any day before a reader was born is history.
If you write stories for children, (which, to me, means young readers/listeners up to the age of fourteen) September the eleventh two-thousand and one is history.
There are already some good Kidlit books that either tell of that day, or have it in the background of a story. I wrote one such, and my agent wondered if it was too soon. Less than six months later, a whole slew of children’s books came out telling of that day. It was not too soon.
It was a seismic shock for the United States, one whose reverberations are operational today. We fear depicting the religion in whose name the perverted individuals chose to act, because many innocent adherents should not be implicated. But if we tippy-toe around that, we can’t tell the story of that day honestly.
And if we tell it honestly, how do we tell it to a child?
For my grandparents’ generation, there was another day that lived in infamy. It was the day where Pearl Harbor, where most of the United States navy was docked, another nation whom we did not provoke chose to decimate the American fleet in a few hours. Listen to the then president of the United States speaking to the nation here. Franklin Roosevelt said it clearly: December seventh nineteen-forty-one, a date that shall live in infamy.
The country of Japan is an ally now, after we defeated it. Few kids know that date. But it would not be farfetched to say that the events of that day are still reverberating in all we think, feel and do today.
I don’t know what we should do about nine-eleven, except that I am sure we should write about it, and tell young readers what happened. Best to do it with riveting stories, preferably engrossing fiction where imagined characters live through real events, because these are the stories kids read out of school.
Someday, through the haze of the passing time, we will not fear naming the perpetrators. We’ll be breaking bread with their grandchildren, and together we’ll confront new challenges.
But for now, today, nine eleven is still a date that lives in infamy.