Our Real Teens Read group read Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl this month.
Powerful, beautiful, engrossing, heartbreaking — this memoir should be required reading for everyone.
What a delightful, vibrant young woman she was, and what a talented writer! I found this month to be tough, because I couldn’t get through much of the history without crying. I have taught this book before, and as with all the literature we read in our discussion group, I think it is important to include the historical context when discussing it.
The horrors of World War II, and especially the Holocaust, are difficult to tackle.
On Friday, June 12, 1942, Anne Frank received a diary from her parents for her thirteenth birthday. “Kitty” became her best friend for the two years that she and her family lived in hiding in the Secret Annex. Anne’s writing shows what a passion she had for life, even in the face of overwhelming hardships.
We looked at Anne the writer, paying close attention to some of the techniques she used, such as in her Thursday, 11 November 1943, entry entitled, “Ode to a Fountain Pen.”
Throughout our study, my son commented that he was surprised to discover how Anne was so much like teens today, and he felt he could relate to her in a number of ways.
One resource, The Secret Annex Online, was very helpful and let us take a virtual tour of the annex and watch some films about what happened after the Diary.
Along with the Diary, our group read
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Fictional, but based on the Danish Resistance during the Nazi occupation. The Danish people rescued nearly seven thousand Jews by smuggling them across the sea to Sweden.)
- The picture book, Erika’s Story, by Ruth Vander Zee and Roberto Innocenti (heart-wrenching!)
And, we read these poems:
- “’Hope is the thing with feathers’” and “’If I can stop one heart from breaking’” by Emily Dickinson,
- “Songs for the People” by Frances Harper
- “The Butterfly”by Pavel Friedmann (written from Terezin in 1942 by a young man who was passing through on his way to the “final destination.”)
We discussed the topics of indifference and responsibility. How does being indifferent make one responsible?
We also discussed propaganda and techniques of persuasion, and we looked at posters from World War II and the messages they conveyed.