Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

How I Heard About It:  This has been the summer of reading 9/11 novels.  I started with Nine, Ten, a September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin.  Recently, I just finished The Memory of Things by Gae Polisher.  Both were such powerful and personal stories.  The other day I visiting Anderson's Book Shop in Naperville on my way back from The Reading Summit.  After chatting with one of the book sellers, I decided to buy this novel.  

What It Is About:  How does one's home and personal community relate to our country and its history?  This is the question that Deja's fifth grade teacher would like her class to explore.  Deja is the new girl and trying to fly under the radar.  She doesn't want the other students to know about her home because it isn't the home that most fifth graders would want.  She is one of three children of a mother that has to work all the time and a father that is suffering from an illness that Deja doesn't quite understand.  The new school she is attending is in New York City and fifteen years after 9/11.  For various reasons, Deja doesn't know all the details of 9/11 as her classmates do.  After "bonding" with Ben and Sabeen, the three of them begin an academic and personal journey to connect their present "history" to one of the past.  

What I Thought Of It:  After enjoying the first two 9/11 novels so much, I wasn't sure if another story about that event would measure up.  I was wrong.  This was such a wonderful and touching story.  Everything about it was top-notch.  Deja and her family wove their way into my heart and I rooted for their success the entire story.  Jewell Parker Rhodes did an outstanding job of interweaving the events of 9/11 and what was happening at this school fifteen years later.  Supporting characters Ben and Sabeen were an integral aspect of the story and created a strong "triangular" relationship with Deja.  I finished the novel in about a day because once I started I couldn't put it down.  I'm thankful for my visit to Anderson's Book Shop and the seller that pointed out this incredible story.  

Who Should Read It:  In my opinion, this story was written for readers in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.  The chapters are relatively short with a writing style that is perfect for this age group.  The book could be used for a class read aloud and/or to put in the hands of an individual reader.  If an adult reader has read either of the other two 9/11 books, this would be the perfect one to add to make it a "trifecta".  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars


  1. If you had to pick only one to share as a read aloud with 6th graders, which would you pick? They all sound so good. I am reading Nine, Ten right now.

  2. I would either do Nine, Ten or this one. Both good. The Memory of Things is for a bit older group.

  3. I just bought this book for 6th graders. Do you think it's possible to just read brief excerpts in a couple of days to the class to get the gist? I don't think I'll have time for the entire book to be read aloud.