Friday, June 28, 2019

Book Nook: 9/11 Courage and Tributes (Discovering Heroes™)

The events of 9/11/2001 mark history's deadliest attack on American soil, yet many schools today do not teach children about 9/11. Author and CEO of Context Productions, Kristie Kiernan Bouryal aims to help rectify this with the release of the third in her Discovering Heroes™ series, 9/11 Courage and Tributes. Raising awareness of that day, the book discusses tributes to the fallen, the courage of everyday heroes, the lasting impact of 9/11, and much more. 

I had a chance to interview her to learn more.

Why did you decide to write this book?
I decided to write this book and others in the series because I saw the need. For years I asked kids if they learned about 9/11 in school and so many told me they didn’t. Even kids in my own family who are in New York City and New Jersey schools hadn’t learned about it. That deeply saddened me and spurred me into action. The sad reality is that whether or not 9/11 is taught in schools is left to the discretion of individual teachers.

Why is it so important for kids to read about heroes?
It’s important for kids to know that they don’t have to look to other people to be heroes, heroism is in all of us and it is all around us. The best stories of heroism are often unspoken, because true heroes often don’t boast about their actions. That’s why it takes being inquisitive and being an active listener to uncover amazing stories that are all around us.

Heroism also presents itself in different ways. Some acts may be small gestures, like smiling and wishing a good day to a person you pass in a store who it so happens, may be having the worst day of their life. Some acts can be grand, like the actions of first responders on 9/11 and thereafter.  The size of the act is irrelevant, though, because what matters is doing what’s right when it’s needed, without needing to be asked. It’s instinctive and it’s in all of us, but I think as a kid, it’s a natural instinct to look to others before realizing what you’re capable of yourself.  

How can parents encourage kids to be courageous and be heroes where they are?
Parents can encourage kids to be courageous and be heroes where they are by helping them to understand that they needn’t look around to find a hero, but rather, look at themselves. Parents can explore with their child things they can do to start to positively impact people around them. At the same time, that will start to show them what they are capable of. I recommend starting with small acts of kindness that would make a big difference to others. Do you have an elderly friend or neighbor who may need help bringing in the mail, or maybe doing yard chores? Does your child have a friend who is sad that they could give a hug to and talk to? Does your child have a younger sibling who often is left out when it comes to play time, but playing even a short game with them would make them feel happy?

It’s interesting, but when I tell kids about the everyday heroes I write about, many tend to ask the same question: How did the person know to do what they did? The answer? They didn’t. In each case, they just felt so strongly about something, that they felt compelled to take action. But instead of focusing on what happened, because they couldn’t change that, they instead focused on what they could do to help.  Focusing forward is a split-second decision one can make that will truly start to impact the world for the better.

May America – and the world – never forget the extraordinary heroism of everyday people on 9/11, thereafter, and the fortitude of our American spirit. The actions of everyday heroes brought us together in ways we never imagined possible. Kids should hear their stories. Soon enough, they’ll have their own stories to tell.

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