What Happened to MY World?

2020 Edition

This book was first created in response to 9/11. Quite understandably, adults were scared and unsure of how to think or feel, let alone fully cope with the gravity of the tragedy.

Adults charged with the care of children were further challenged — wanting to assure children they were safe while not being at all certain that was true.“What Happened to MY World?” was born from the need to provide expert and gentle guidance to those adults.

What Happened to MY World cover image

Talking to Children About Tragedy

Below are resources for families, teachers, and caregivers who are working to help children cope with these acts of unimaginable terror. We hope these resources provide a guide to help children make sense of the world around them and for healing to begin. In this short video we share tips and strategies for helping children cope during a tragic event.


What Happened to the World?

Originally developed in 2002, this guide to helps children cope in turbulent times. This guide was written by the late Jim Greenman, former Bright Horizons Senior Vice President of Education and Program Development, following the tragic events of September 11. The threat of terror that could strike anyone is in the headlines. What do our children think and feel when they hear that a plane could be blown out of the sky, perhaps one that someone they know and love might be on? What do we tell children about the world that they live in? 

Helping Children Cope with Natural Disaster and Catastrophe

What Happened to My World? Helping Children Cope with Natural Disaster and Catastrophe, a resource for parents, teachers, and anyone working with children. What Happened to MY World was written to help adults peer into the minds of children from infancy through the teenage years, and understand their confusion, fears, grief, and struggles to understand why inexplicable accidents or the forces of nature can suddenly disrupt or destroy the world as they know it. It is to help both those who experience and survive catastrophe firsthand, as well as the children who witness from a distance and wonder what it was like or whether someday they will find themselves in similar circumstances.

Extraordinary events like the earthquake, tsunami, and concerns about radiation exposure in Japan test us all as citizens and human beings sharing a planet. They test us as parents, both as guardians of our children trying to keep them emotionally safe, and as our children’s teachers trying to raise them to become enlightened and empathetic adults.

Children grow into the kind of people they will become at least in part by how we guide them through their questions, concerns, and fears, and whether we use the teachable moments thrust upon us to provide them with support, care, and guidance. 

Additional Resources


Together we have an obligation to raise and educate a generation of healthy, vibrant children who live in the world with confidence and wisdom, understand the natural world, and are committed to making the world a better place.


- Jim Greenman

Late Senior Vice President, Bright Horizons Family Solutions