An Irish author's book has been selected to help Newtown survivors overcome the grief and trauma they suffered after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in one of the worst school massacres in US history.

Colum McCann's novel 'Let the Great World Spin' was chosen by teacher and psychologists in Newtown, Connecticut, to help students overcome the trauma inflicted from the December 14 killings.

McCann, whose book won the National Book Award in 2009, said the selection of his novel by the Newtown teachers was "possibly the greatest honour of my life."

According to, the novel revolves around French acrobat Philippe Petit’s crossing on a tight-rope between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1974.

With the backdrop of the 9-11 attacks which would kill thousands of people in the same location a quarter of a century later, McCann builds a story that centers on people’s ability to find meaning and how to handle great losses in life.

McCann said 70 copies of the book had been given to the high school in Newtown. The author described how he felt when he met with several of the students ages between 16 and 18.

“Some of them had a small sister or brother killed last December,” he said. “Another one was the babysitter of a victim. We spoke about grief and resilience. One of them told me he read my novel four times, another one that he couldn’t.”

In addition to the novel, therapy dogs have also been brought into the school for the traumatized children.

Man Booker Prize features three Irish authors including Colum McCann (pictured)Handout