Book helps parents explain horrific events of 9/11 to children - or is it Propaganda?

Book helps parents explain horrific events of 9/11 to children

April 17, 2010
By LINDA GIRARDI For Sun-Times Media (Chicago area)

BATAVIA -- Cindy Rodriguez was a teacher's assistant at Louise White Elementary School when two 6-year-old kindergarten students inspired her to write a children's book.

Author Cindy Rodriguez, a paraprofessional at H.C. Storm Elementary School in Batavia (back left) and Joyce Elliott, a special education teacher at Louise White Elementary School in Batavia, wrote and illustrated a book (respectively) about Sept. 11, 2001, for children whose birthdays fall on that historic day. Rodriguez was inspired by three former students who were born that day: Jayden Johnson (front, from left), Madison Gats and Ian Henderson.

"We wanted to share with children the significance of Sept. 11 on the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, especially for children having birthdays," Rodriguez said. "I went to look for literature, and everything was geared for older-aged children."

Rodriguez has written "I Was Born on 9/11," a soft-cover children's book that tells the story of what happened in New York City, how American citizens united for their country and how there is hope for a safer tomorrow.

The story gently unfolds the events of that clear, blue-sky day through the words of a narrator and poetic rhyme. Each page has colorful watercolor illustrations of children, family members, buildings and heroes.

Rodriguez's colleague, Batavia special education teacher Joyce Elliott, did the illustrations for the book.

"I started writing the manuscript on sticky notes, polished the story and submitted it to several publishers," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said PublishAmerica told her the book had merit, but she would have to come up with an illustrator.

"We knew each other and talked, but I didn't realize Joyce was an artist," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, now at Storm Elementary, found out that Elliott indeed was an artist when she saw that she was working on a project for a retiring principal.

The book helps parents who have struggled to find the words to explain the horrific events of 9/11. The story begins with a child's birthday, explains how "Some bad men decided they'd cause great trouble," and "America showed itself faithful and true ... "

"A friend's 11-year-old son for years had heard references to 9/11. The mother sat down with him and she could see that he was moved," Rodriguez said.

"I could just imagine what the mothers were going through on the day their children were born -- we were all shaken by 9/11.

"What really touched me was the fact that, even in the midst of the death, destruction, sorrow and fear, there was a reason to rejoice and go forward with life."

Rodriguez said the two Batavia students, now 8 years old, were at the book's unveiling earlier this year.

"These little ones are proof that if we stay together, we would get through it," she said.

The two Batavia teachers have a second book, titled, "Heroes Were Made On 9/11," that is in pre-publication and will be released this year around the ninth anniversary of the attacks. They have a third book in the works.

"I Was Born On 9/11" is available at Limestone Coffee & Tea in Batavia, Geneva History Center, Old Towne Books & Tea in Oswego and Jake's Bagels & Deli in Aurora. It is also available at and The teachers have a Web site at

Get 'em while they're young.

I have heard an expression that according to the Jesuits they claim "give me a child for " X" years and I"ll show you the man." Meaning they can indoctrinate someone so well that those beliefs last for life. This is probably why the majority are resistant to change even when faced with solid evidence or proof.