Lesson Plan: Cover Stories

Holiday Travel (Grades 6-12)

1. Display or distribute copies of The New Yorker cover entitled, Holiday Travel. Do not reveal the title to students.

2. Ask students to look at the cover for one minute and write down all of the things they notice on a sheet of paper. If viewing on individual laptops or tablets, encourage them to use the zoom function.

3. After one minute, tell students you are going to work together to discover how it is connected to 9/11 based on their observations.

4. Lead a guided inquiry by asking the following questions: (Note: each question has the same follow-up question designed to get students to support their responses with evidence.)
-  What people do you see on the cover? Who else do you see? 
-  Where does this take place? What makes you say that? 
-  What is happening on the cover? What makes you say that?
-  When was this cover created? What makes you say that? 
-  How: How is this cover connected to 9/11?

5. Tell students that the cover is featured in an exhibition at the 9/11 Memorial Museum entitled, "Cover Stories: Remembering the Twin Towers on The New Yorker." There are five sections of the exhibition, Covering the Twin Towers, Covering 9/11, Covering the Aftermath, Covering Commemoration and Covering the New World Trade Center. Ask students: Which section would you place this cover in? Why?

6. Share the background information about the cover with students:

The U.S. Congress created the Transportation Security Administration in November 2001. Airports around the country implemented rigorous security screening procedures for passengers and luggage in an effort to prevent future attacks. Security measures were taken so seriously that The New Yorker suggested an exception could not be made even for Santa Claus and his bundle of holiday presents.

7. Ask students: What does this response by the U.S. government tell you about the concerns of the country immediately after 9/11?

8. Ask students to take on the role of the artist. What title would you give this cover? Why? Conclude by revealing the actual title, Holiday Travel, given by the artist, Istvan Banyai. Why do you think the artist chose that title?

Image courtesy of The New Yorker © Condé Nast

Additional resources on civil liberties and national security:
Lesson Plan: Airport Security v. Civil Liberties
Lesson Plan: Resonance
Lesson Plan: How 9/11 Changed Getting on an Airplane
Primary Sources: Homeland Security Act of 2002