How do I teach my child about 9/11?

Dear Pop,

I was a grad student at California State University Northridge (CSUN) when passenger planes collided into the Twin Towers. Now, a mom of twins, and the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 drawing near, how do I teach my children about that infamous day?

Concerned Mom. 

Dear Concerned Mom,

Unfortunately, many children rely on rumors or hearsay regarding the events of 9/11. Some kids think it was Japan that attacked our shores. Others say it was Pakistan, while a few will tell you it was Iraq. There are even those who think it never happened.

September 11, 2001 is a day in infamy children under the age of 18 do not remember. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that translates to about 74 million kids.

Few states, with the exception of New York and New Jersey, have a set curriculum about the 9/11 catastrophes. Though many school districts are in full service by September 11, they usually rely on teachers to discuss the events that occurred 16 years ago. Many teachers don’t feel comfortable talking about 9/11 while others become too emotional.

Here’s what I suggest you do. First, make sure you review the facts about the events of 9/11 so you get all your information correct before you talk to your children. Next, find out what your children know and clear up misconceptions.Then, tell your sons and daughters about where you were when the terrorists struck. Ask your children how they feel about the events of 9/11 and let them know how you fell and why you’ll never forget that day. Finally, answer their questions. If you don’t know the answers, research them on the Internet. You can even make this a family tradition because as your children age, their questions will become more probing and sophisticated.

Tell your kids how our nation came together the weeks and months after the event with flags flying from every car. And, depending upon the age of the child, please limit the graphic images they’ll see on news networks re-living the day.

Since 9/11 usually falls right after school starts, don’t expect teachers to be ready to discuss this sensitive topic. It is  up to parents to educate their children about this horrific day in American history. Eventually, the next generation of parents and children will study this day like we do Pearl Harbor or the Civil War.

Best wishes,




Michael is the author of four published novels—Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series—The Legend of Koolura and Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner writing articles about parenting and education. His blog features YA authors and books.

One thought on “How do I teach my child about 9/11?

  1. Joe Bock Reply

    I found out about 9/11 on the telephone from Paris. I had a telephone conference call with Air France related to some work I was doing for them, so I dragged myself out of bed early in the morning (which is the end of the work day in France). When I called them they told me about 9/11. That’s all we talked about so I had to drag myself out of bed again about a week later to call them again.

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