Here's a controversy I just don't get. Everybody's up in arms saying that a coloring book about 9/11 to teach children about our Second Day of Infamy is inappropriate; most of them claim it's because they don't want to expose their children to the concepts of death and grief. Here's why I don't get it: When I was three years old, an aunt died, and I went to her funeral. When my parents explained to me what death was, I was not in the least bit traumatized. When we went to the wake (open casket), I was mostly curious about the body. I understood that there was "nobody home," so to speak. When we came back the next day for the actual funeral, I knew that my aunt's body was in that closed "box," and was not the least bit disturbed when they put that box in the ground.
Fast forward three years. I was six years old, and in the first grade in a Catholic school. I still remember our lesson on Heaven and Hell, and the fact that you had to die to get to either place. Here's the kicker: It was expected that by six years, we'd all know what death was, and we did. Most of us had learned it before kindergarten, simply because some relative had died and we went to the funerals. Not one single one of us was traumatized by the thought. We may have been sad because some relative wasn't around anymore, but that's it.
Fast-forward another three years. My third-grade reader told the story of a town in which a terrible storm and flood occurred. Several chapters covered the children's experiences in a shelter in another town during the storm; later chapters not only dealt with the cleanup after the flood, but actually told about several characters, introduced in earlier chapters, who DIED IN THE FLOOD! Parents today would be having fits over such subject matter in a children's book, but we took it as a matter of course; in fact, all of us loved that story. Several of my former schoolmates are actually jealous of the fact that I still have that reader, because they would have loved to have their own children read it.
I think most people would be quite surprised to find that their preschoolers understand death and similar concepts quite well, simply from the things their parents watch on TV. And if they don't get to see any TV shows where things like that happen, the parents need to wake up and quit sheltering the little snowflakes. Kids are tough, tougher than anybody these days gives them credit for. Bad things happen in this world, and they need to be made aware of that fact AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. The earlier you teach them about it, the less likely they are to be permanently damaged if and when the actually encounter such things. Trust me, this is personal experience talking.
- The 9/11 coloring book