I guess summer is coming to a close. The end of the August is Monday and starting Tuesday, with the first day of September, we will have cooler temperatures and shorter days, right? Well, maybe not that quickly but fall is around the corner. So I am concluding my Summer Slide series in the next couple of weeks. I am so grateful to all who have participated in the series…sharing their reviews, reading the posts and leaving comments on my blog. Please come back to read the final posts in the series as we approach fall.
I have a dynamic mother and son duo who are sharing their reviews of one of my favorite books ever. Have I said that before? I need to look back at my other Summer Slide posts. But even if I have, I am super serious now. The Diary of a Young Girl is just about my all-time favorite book. It should be required reading to be a human being! A prerequisite to adulthood. A rite of passage. It has such a message for all of us.
I am so proud of my friend Amanda to read this book with her son Noah. It probably isn’t the first book most boys would pick out and probably not the first book mommies would select to read with their sons. But it is such an important book. Noah and Amanda, consider yourselves hugged.
Thank you for sharing your reviews with all of us.
We are going to start with Noah’s review, take it away, Noah!
Could you imagine if you were a Jewish person in 1942, and had to go into hiding, just like Anne Frank? Anne Frank was only 13 years old when she was forced into hiding because German police officers were capturing all Jewish people and killing them. Anne Frank and her family, along with the van Daans and Mr. Dussel, weren’t able to make any noise at all when they were in the Annex. The people who helped them were Mr. Kleiman, Mr. Kugler, Miep, and Bep by giving them food, medicines, news from the outside world, and shelter. In the book, The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne mostly talks about how lonely she was. After two long years all 8 Jewish people were found in the Annex. No one knows for sure how they got caught but 1 out of the 8 survived, which was Anne’s dad, Otto Frank.
I would like to recommend this book because it tells how they tried to survive during the war, what they did with their time, and how they tried to be quiet during the day. The book made me angry because Hitler didn’t even know the Jews and tried to kill all of them. It also made me sad when nobody ever listened to Anne and everybody kept on bossing her around. Also, Anne put some funny jokes in the book.
Beautifully said, Noah. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Noah, but I have watched him grow up through pictures and posts by his mommy, Amanda, on Facebook. From what I can tell, he is an amazing boy. Sweet, polite, and very kind. I appreciate his empathetic perspective of Anne’s tragic life and death.
Because they read this book together, Amanda also wrote a review to share with us.
To imagine all of my freedom stripped away from me in an instant for something completely out of my control is beyond anything I can wrap my head around. Such hatred and power that one man can have to get a whole country to support his idea that Jews were the enemy and needed to be extinct, is crazy to me. Something like this should only be part of a horror story (if anything) and not a tragic truth in our history. Reading Anne’s words throughout her whole ordeal, I was on an emotional roller coaster. She was witty, quick, confident, lonely, and so descriptive. When she first starts her diary, you hear the innocence of a young girl who just celebrated her birthday with family and friends and how she charms some, if not all, the boys that she meets. However, her happy tone quickly turns into fear and panic of having to pack quickly and go into hiding. In her entries, we meet her mom, dad, sister, the van Daans and Mr. Dussel, as well as the kind and brave people who risked their lives to hide them. We quickly learn about the do’s and don’ts of the Secret Annex: no using the restroom or talking during office hours, no communication with the outside world, no opening the windows; while studying and reading were acceptable. As days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, it is easy to hear the boredom from the monotony of the daily routines that all eight people share. She describes the tension and arguments that arise from being stuck in such a small space. You can’t help but imagine how much patience you yourself would have if you were in the same situation. As we read through her entries, we saw her growth in maturity and wisdom. At times, I forgot that I was reading the words of a teenager.
One thing that kept recurring throughout her diary was her feeling of loneliness. She had a strong and close bond with her father at the beginning of her diary, yet the same cannot be said for her mother. Being in such close proximity to her just pushed her further and further away. She felt as though there wasn’t one person in the Annex, even her father at one point, who understood her and she was never truly able to be herself. She talks of her dreams to become a writer and to be remembered, even after she passed. It is clear, though that she wanted to be remembered for a life lived to the fullest. Towards the end of her entries, you begin to hear actual hope and I couldn’t help but cheer for her, even though I already knew the horrible outcome. Upon reading her last page, I felt saddened; I had spent this whole time getting to know her and the rest of the people with her, and just like that, they were gone. It was terrible knowing that they were so close to being saved because the British and American armies were finally involved and taking back what Hitler had taken away.
Although there were some entries that were uncomfortable to read with my son (her thoughts on sexuality, her menstruation, etc.), it was something I was able to use to show just how fortunate we are here in the States. We talked about how we can never take simple things for granted because you just never know when it can be taken from you. Many discussions were had as to why something like this could happen and how it wasn’t fair. My son’s eyes were opened to the hostilities that are out there in the world, and how unfortunately, in other countries stories like this are still taking place. I am disappointed that it has taken me so long to read Anne’s diary, but I am glad that I finally got around to it.
Oh, Amanda! I love how you used reading this book with Noah as a spring board for such rich, important discussions. What terrific parenting. If only, all children were blessed with parents who read with them and talk with them and love them the way you do.
While I love this book, (did I say that yet?), it isn’t the easiest book to read. The Diary of a Young Girl is written on a middle grades interest level and a 6.5 (sixth grade, fifth month) reading level. The book is worth 14 points in the Accelerated Reader program. Some of the vocabulary is difficult or even out of date or rarely used in present day. In looking for activities to support the book, I came across a study guide available at Free Unit Studies. The book guide divides the diary into parts and provides vocabulary lists, comprehension questions and suggested activities for each section.
The Anne Frank Museum provides a wealth of information about Anne and her group, including a virtual tour of the secret annex.
Scholastic Publishing’s “We Remember” project shares four week’s worth of extensions, activities, web links and reading lists to accompany and support the diary. The Anne Frank website has a teachers’ portal with great tools for teaching about Anne and the Holocaust. The Anne Frank Center USA was begun by Otto Frank in New York in 1959 as the Anne Frank Foundation, Inc. The center’s webpage has numerous teaching resources including downloadable discussion guides. Find them out here.
I didn’t realize until I started writing this post, that there is a “new” edition of Frank’s Diary increased by 30%, in which Publisher’s Weekly suggests readers will come to know a “more sarcastic, rebellious and vulnerable” almost 16 year old teen “than the sensitive diarist beloved by millions.” The PW reviewer continues saying “Expanded entries provide a fuller picture of the tensions and quarrels among the eight people in hiding.” [source] Her father, Otto, was the only one of the group to survive and it was he who edited the diary originally, choosing to omit these entries from the original edition. Reviewers argue that this definitive edition of the entire diary, first published in 1995, reveals “a new depth to Anne’s dreams, irritations, hardships, and passions. Anne emerges as more real, more human, and more vital than ever.” [source] So, just when I thought I couldn’t love this book better or more, I discover there is more to love. Get your copy of the new unabridged diary here.
Last but not least, I found a book talk trailer for a graphic biography of Anne’s life on YouTube. It would serve as a good introduction to Anne and her life.
When I was still working as a librarian, I did a series of lessons in the spring about note-worthy women for my second, third, fourth and fifth grade students. Each grade level learned about a different woman: Helen Keller in second, Harriet Tubman in third, Sadako Sasaki in fourth and Anne Frank in fifth. We read books, did research online and watched videos about the lives of these important people. It was one of my favorite teaching experiences. A part of me still misses doing those lessons with my children. My library babies. Maybe I will dry my tears and share what we did at each grade level in some posts here in the future.
Noah gets a gold star because not only did he review The Diary of a Young Girl but he also wrote a review for the book Flush by Carl Hiaasen. I am going to share that review in a coming post so promise you will come back!
Thank you for YOUR support of the Summer Slide series. Even though the series will soon be over for this summer, I invite you to review here any great book you share with your children.
Hugs and kisses,