I really enjoy World War II and Holocaust literature because it gives me an empathy for the suffering soldiers and Jews went through. They risked their lives to end Hitler’s horribly oppressive, genocidal regime. Books like that should always make us wonder, is there ever time when killing an entire group of people simply because of the color of their skin justified? Or is it just pure, unadulterated evil? I’d go with the latter. Today, the events of 9/11 are a striking reminder of another evil ideology.
See the books below that help paint the remembrance of the horror on 9/11 and hope for our future.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)
A story about Mariam, an illegitimate child who grew up in a mud hut on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, is forced to marry Rashid, a polygamist man, in civil-war torn Afghanistan. This is a human story of the real people who live in a land terrorized by Al-Qaida, and reading it, I think really allows us to recognize that the Middle East, specially Afghanistan, has lots of innocent people struggling to make an honest living just like us.
I Am Malala by Malala YousefZai (2013)
This nonfictional account of the 16-year-old girl shot by the Taliban is an extraordinary story of Malala and her family — what they sacrificed to oppose the terrorist group’s ban on female education. Malala is the winner of the Noble Peace Prize, and her family, are true heroes of our times.
Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (2002)
Harry suffered a great deal of psychological terror by Voldemort in this book. Voldemort invaded his mind, to the point where Harry himself was carrying out a bloody murder in Voldemort’s body. Voldemort, and his army, the Death Eaters used fear to coerce people to submitting to them. Voldemort himself reminded me in books 5, and 7 much of Adolf Hilter, and today’s terrorist groups.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (2010)
The final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, found Katniss working with the underground group District 13 to overthrow President Snow and his oppressive regime. Their form of control, unlike modern day terrorists, was to keep food from people and use a select group of unfortunate humans as Roman gladiators — their goal: fight to the death for food and water, the most basic necessities of life. If the Capitol isn’t a tyrannical government at its most oppressive level, I can’t think of a better definition.
Selection by Kiera Cass (2012)
The Selection is a romance story set in a dystopian society, however, I think the story is profound in that it shows how monarchy today, with its caste system, limits humans opportunities to pursue their own life of work, and happiness. The rebels who uprise against the throne, are a set of desperate people who want a different world to live in. It’s an entertaining story, a bit on the lighter side, but no less shows the harms of an oppressive society, and how it can breed terrorism.
I think it’s important to note that there’s a difference between someone who lives in the middle east and Arab world, and the one who’s simply from there. My youngest students, mostly Muslims born in America, were 4 when 9/11 happened. I can only imagine what kind of world they feel like they’re growing up in.
The only thing I remember as a child in Ohio is my white teachers treating me, a brown girl, as if I was their own daughter — they remembered me long after I left their class for the next grade, gave me books (1st grade), helped me publish my first short story and illustrate it (2nd grade), and take me with their own kids to the school carnival because my mom could not drive (4th grade). Until 9/11 all I ever knew was love from my white family. I’ve never in my life experienced so much fear, apprehension, reluctance from some of the white community as today.
You see, I lived all my adult life in a post 9/11 world, imagine the kids growing up in a world where all they’ve ever known is the unjustifiable deaths of the innocent people in the Twin towers, and a racially divide world? What are we going to do for them to ensure they feel like they belong in this world? They are loved and wanted? That’s all I ask for you to think about today.
I hope everyone today remembers the innocents who lost their lives on 9/11 and comforts their families as the best way they know how.
As far as the books go, there are lots more great, 9/11 and post-9/11 books, they’ll have to be left for another blog post. Enjoy and leave me your thoughts and other book suggestions below!