My daughter chose this book on her own based on recommendations from her friends. She was disturbed after reading it over a weekend. She didn’t say this to me but I sensed that she needs to discuss this book with me. So I took a short break from my own books and started reading this one first. I took photographs along the way of some pictures inside the book and some lines that I felt need to be discussed with my daughter. I shared all those pictures and lines here.
The main character in this book is a ten year old African American girl – Deja – who just moved to a new school. She lives in a shelter with her parents, a younger brother and a younger sister. The family is poor. The father seems to be suffering from post traumatic stress and mental health issues. Deja makes two good friends at school – Ben and Sabeen. Both Ben and Sabeen have interesting story lines of their own. The trio dig up more information on 9/11 after they get a lesson from their teacher about it. They realize how this incident impacted each of their own lives even though they were born after it happened.
I believe that it’s good for children of my daughter’s age to read sad stories because it teaches them empathy. I also believe that if a child initiates learning on a subject like my daughter did in this case, then it is the parent’s duty to equip her with all the right information on that subject. No subject should be off limits here in my opinion. I hear parents saying they don’t want their child to be scared or they want to protect their child’s innocence. I understand all those concerns. But I strongly feel that if the child seeks knowledge on a subject on her own, then she is ready to be educated on it. If she does not get the right kind of support from the parent then she may seek other avenues for information which could be dangerous.
With that said, here are a few things that my daughter and I will be discussing over the next few days depending on how fast/slow she wants to go:
- The concept of a social unit and the importance of it. How can an incident that happened outside of our homes affect us in our daily lives? I would like to teach her to care about humanity in an age appropriate manner.
- How can history come alive? How can an incident that happened in the past impact our lives in the present? Why do we all need to care about history?
- The American values of freedom, equality and diversity. What do they mean in our daily lives?
- Immigration – why do immigrants choose to leave their homes to build their lives in America? How does it impact their families? How did it impact our family as we are an immigrant family as well?
Beyond this, if she wants to discuss terrorism then I am prepared for that as well. I love the fact that this book gave me an opportunity to discuss all these heavy topics with my daughter in a way that makes sense to her.
Next up: a tour of the 9/11 memorial site with my daughter??