Hello Guys and a happy Tuesday to you! Hope you had a great Monday and are ready to continue the week with a positive attitude and high motivation. Today, I wanted to do something on a more serious and solemn note. I think minors of all ages will benefit from today’s post because so many of them may have heard about the topic, but so little is public about it in the world of literature. My readers know how much I love books and I can’t think of no other medium that can teach children about the horrific events of the holocaust, and give them language to express how they feel about it.
The Diary of Anne Frank (See HERE): I think I really dug into the topic of Holocaust during high school. There were two non-literary experiences I remember. One was visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and the other was a play my classmates put up based on the world-famous book, “The Diary of Ann Frank” by Ann Frank. I researched the Holocaust on my own afterward and learned in-depth the atrocities committed by the Nazis. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I managed to get a copy of the book. It is so weird that you unconsciously avoid something because you know it brings you so much pain. At times like these, you need to assess what fears you are really running away from. I think in my 20’s and early 30’s I decided I was ready to read her diary. And boy, did I learn a lot about Anne Frank. In her diary, she beautifully “encapsulates” life in an attic of a home in Amsterdam. The year is 1942 and the Nazi’s are occupying Holland, that’s where the diary starts. The 13-year old Anne Frank recalls the treatment of Jews before the war and what the day-to-day frustration, occurrences, and tensions were of the two families living in hiding in that attic. They were confined in that attic for two years! My impression of Anne Frank was that she was quite well-behaved and intelligent, and she writes about growing up in surprisingly humorous accounts that only a precocious and courageous young girl wise beyond her years can do. A must read for all the young girls and boys out there!
Night (See HERE): This was my first book on Holocaust and the most powerful one since then. I read this in college and remember pausing and taking breaks so many times because the events it details are horrifying. Night, a book by Elie Wiesel’s is a candid and deeply poignant autobiographical account of Wiesel’s experience and thankfully his subsequent survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz and Buchenwald. It was painful to read his honest description of what happened and how he felt about it. The most painful and deeply cutting part to read was when he questioned God’s power and promise to man and thought about Satan because Satan keeps his promise. I had to put down the book for a while because of that. Needless to say, this book is not meant for young kids, but high schoolers and beyond. It really takes from you.
The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler’s List (See HERE): I haven’t read this book, but it is highly recommended and it reminds me of the movie “The Schindler’s List” (See HERE) so I knew this book is something I can connect with. Written by Leon Leyson, one of the youngest children to survive the Holocaust on Oskar Schindler’s list, the memoir captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through one of the most harrowing events in human history. Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world-renowned as the Schindler’s list. This book is recommended for older kids.
Number the Stars (See HERE): A Newberry Medal winner, “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry takes place in Denmark. As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family. Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war. Recommended for older kids.
Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust (See HERE): It is difficult to imagine that there are picture books teaching kids about Holocaust. But, thanks to great writing, this painful topic is written with great sensitivity so young kids are not left traumatized. This picture book covers another aspect of the war. It is 1941. Hedy and her family are Jewish, and the Nazi party is rising. Hedy’s family is no longer safe in their home in Hungary. They decide to flee to America, but because of their circumstances, sixteen-year-old Hedy must make her way through Europe alone. The story accounts her journey where she encounters good fortune and misfortune, a kind helper and cruel soldiers, a reunion and a tragedy-and discover how Hedy is both lucky and brave. Hedy’s Journey adds an important voice to the canon of Holocaust stories and her courage will make a lasting impact on young readers. For other picture book stories on Holocaust, See HERE.
Well, guys, I hope you go out and read these books recommended by me. Just click on the links and hit purchase if you have an Amazon account. There are numerous titles and accounts appropriate for ALL ages. I would recommend having a written aspect of this exercise. Children can even use these titles to write book reports in their classroom. This is a heavy topic and having them write words, sentences, or even a paragraph (or for older kids essays) can give them an opportunity to air out their grievances and confusion.
I know a lot of children and even adults ask why this kind of events happen in the world even today. At dark moments like those, it is important to stay positive. How you may ask? Watch “Life is Beautiful” (See HERE) and you will learn how to find happiness in the darkest of times. Till then, happy reading!!!