Sept. 11 coloring books are inappropriate and insensitive

By Alyssa Pracz

According to an Aug. 30 article in the Chicago Tribune, Really Big Coloring Books Inc. published a coloring book depicting the actions of Sept. 11.

The book, titled “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom“, is intended to teach young children about the events of that terrible day. I think it is highly inappropriate to turn a major piece of history into a coloring activity, especially when it involves coloring violent pictures.

After looking through some of the pages in the book, I think this book could be not only offensive to Americans but the Muslim culture as well.

When I was younger, coloring was something I did for fun. I don’t see the fun in having children coloring in pictures of soldiers with guns and shooting people. If you look up the coloring book online, one of the first pictures shown is of soldiers gunning down Osama bin Laden.

I’m sure Wayne Bell, the publisher of the book, thought it would be an honorable way to educate children about the event. In reality, it is the farthest thing from that.

Most children who still use coloring books are pretty young, which means there’s a good chance that they were born after Sept. 11, 2001. Since they were not around when the event actually happened, they will never fully understand the experience every other American felt that day. Emily Reilly, associate director at the NIU Child Development lab, said it’s a challenge to teach young kids about things they haven’t experienced yet. She thinks young children also have difficulty distinguishing between reality and fantasy, which also makes it hard for them to understand abstract content.

“I don’t think the use of a coloring book will have a huge impact as far as learning goes with history of the event,” Reilly said.

Sept. 11 is not a day that can just be taught through a coloring book; it has to be in a classroom or from a parent, because it was so personal on so many different levels.

Personally, Sept. 11 was hard for me to understand – and I lived through it. It was too heart-aching to take in as a child.

Fortunately, our country has moved forward, but for many, it has left a scar on their hearts. In that way it is offensive because it is such a sensitive topic that it should be approached more carefully.

“It would be helpful to have kid-friendly materials to teach them about 9/11, but this particular book shows too much hatred against all Muslims rather than just the terrorist,” said Sabrina Alicea, senior elementary education major.

If children are coloring in pictures of Muslims with guns and are being referred to as terrorists it could affect the way they look at other people of that culture. A lot of Muslim people have already suffered a lot from misjudgments and crude stereotypes. We do not need to teach the next generation biased thinking and risk them getting the wrong message from the book.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 there will be many damaged hearts everywhere with sore memories from that day. We should all teach the next generation how it affected us personally and our feelings from that day rather than leaving it up to new toys and products which could be less meaningful.