Controversy

The 'disgusting' 9/11 memorial coloring book

Is coloring in the burning World Trade Center — or putting glitter on a Navy SEAL shooting Osama bin Laden — the right way to teach kids about 9/11?

The image: As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, children need to understand what actually happened, says Wayne Bell, the publisher of Really Big Coloring Books Inc. His solution: A "graphic coloring novel" called We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids' Book of Freedom. The 36-page coloring book depicts the Twin Towers smoldering, survivors mourning the tragedy's victims, and a Navy SEAL shooting Osama bin Laden, who is (inaccurately) cowering behind a woman in a Muslim hijab. (See the image below.) Bell nevertheless claims it's "a very clean, honest read that does not shy away from the facts" about 9/11.

The reaction: Bell may genuinely believe "Sept. 11 is best memorialized in crayon," and that coloring in bin Laden's death scene is an appropriate educational activity for kids, says Tanya Somanader at ThinkProgress. "But many Muslims describe [this product] as, in a word, 'disgusting,'" and they have a strong case. As a parent, "I'm having a really tough time with this one," says Jeanne Sager at The Stir. Sept. 11 is a serious day in our history, and "we need to find ways to bring it down to a kid-appropriate level." But coloring books are supposed to be fun, not cathartic. And 9/11, "to put it extremely mildly, isn't fun." Judge for yourself:

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