As the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 passes, a St. Louis publisher decided to commemorate the significant event by creating a controversial coloring book depicting violent images.
The “We Shall Never Forget 9/11” coloring book depicts the events surrounding the terrorist attacks on 9/11, including pictures of the twin towers burning and a Navy SEAL shooting at Osama bin Laden.
Wayne Bell, publisher of “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom,” posted a video on YouTube explaining the intentions of the book.
“‘We Shall Never Forget’ is designed to be a tool that parents can use to help teach their children about the facts surrounding 9/11,” Bell said.
Parents responded to the graphic coloring book on blogs, calling it “disgusting.” Responses on Bell’s YouTube video included words such as “worthless,” “sick” and “demented.”
Natalie James, a San Diego mother of four, said this type of book would make her children worry.
“I would never buy this book for my children,” James said. “I would be scared because it will cause my children to worry about the situation happening again.”
She said the coloring book will help educate children — but not in a positive manner.
Bell started a new rating system for coloring books, issuing “We Shall Never Forget 9/11” as PG, parental guidance recommended. He told Phoenix-based ABC15’s Now@9 News the book is for children ages 12 and up.
Some experts say pictures in the coloring books might have the opposite affect of educating and will eventually hurt children.
Ohio State University professor Brad Bushman focuses his research and publications on violent media effects.
“The graphic imagery should have a negative effect on children,” Bushman said in an email. “They simply rehearse the horrific images again over and over in their minds and it is more likely to cause fear than violent behavior to children later on.”
Bushman also noted the images and text in “We Shall Never Forget” could lead to prejudice and discrimination against Muslims in children. The text on the bottom of one of the pages reads: “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were done by freedom-hating radical Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE.”
Bell responded to the criticism of the book depicting Muslims in a negative light. He told Now@9News in a phone interview, “We don’t discuss faith or religion. It basically uses some terminology most of the media uses. I know it’s not politically correct language, but that’s actual language that’s used over and over.”
Bell said the goal of the book is to educate, not to offend.
The $6.99 coloring book sold out of its first run of 10,000 copies and there are more being printed to meet the demand. As of Sept. 5, the publisher distributed “We Shall Never Forget 9/11” to 159 countries and it is being well received in Canada and England.
A portion of the book’s proceeds is going to Bridges for Peace to feed people in the Middle East.