Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A New Look at Anne Frank

Hey, guys, sorry I've been a bit of a flop keeping up with this blog, but I have been updating pretty regularly with children's book reviews at The PlanetEsme Plan, so I hope you've been checking that out!
I did want to let you know that there is a new PBS production of The Diary of Anne Frank set to air on April 11th, and teachers are invited to request free DVD's for classroom pre-screenings of the first hour of the program, as well take advantage of the opportunity to download or register to win more free resources through the Great Books Foundation website. This production is supposed to be "the most accurate adaptation ever," so I imagine it will be very powerful. Hankies at the ready!

Anne Frank is such an important figure in world history, literary history, women's history, and certainly children's history. Some other great resources as you put her life in a both a historical and currently relevant context for the modern classroom:

A link to the Anne Frank House and Museum in Amsterdam;

A link to the American Anne Frank Center;

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (Chicago Public School teachers, have you taken a field trip?);

The Teaching Tolerance website, full of great articles, lesson plans and resources for fostering compassion and anti-bias in your classroom community;

Great books like Jennifer Roy's amazing YELLOW STAR, told from the point of view of one of the twelve surviving children in the Lodz ghetto, as told by her real-life niece, every bit as important and readable by intermediate schoolchildren as Lois Lowry's celebrated Newbery winner about children involved in the Danish resistance, NUMBER THE STARS;

KING MATT THE FIRST, by Janusz Korczak, the story of a boy who runs a country of children by a Polish pediatrician and educator who ran children's homes/orphanages during WWII and who wrote this cliffhanging read-aloud for his charges. He was ultimately lost at Treblinka, along with the children he refused to abandon;

Doris Orgel's classic THE DEVIL IN VIENNA, a realistic, relatable piece of intermediate fiction about two best friends who find division and danger grow between them as the war gains momentum;

Susan Campbell Bartoletti's brave and important children's nonfiction offering, HITLER YOUTH, describing how Hitler was able to pull children into his terrible plan, and the brave children who dared to defy his will (another astounding work on this topic, geared more toward adults, is Marcus Zusak's novel THE BOOK THIEF);

HANA'S SUITCASE by Becky Levine, the story of the past and present colliding a Japanese woman's seeks to discover the identity of a child killed at Auschwitz, and bring her back to "life" for the children who visit the Tokyo Holocaust Education Resource Center. The true story reads like a puzzle, solved through diligence and love;

I NEVER SAW ANOTHER BUTTERFLY, poems and drawings collected from children at the Terezin concentration camp, which may be too heartbreaking for young readers but is important background, witness and testimony to the importance for peace for educators;

The movie PAPER CLIPS, an empowering and beautiful true story of children in a rural Tennessee school who create a moving Holocaust Memorial, suitable for classroom viewing;

Educators should also know about DEAR MISS BREED, the story of a librarian who strove to continue to be supportive of her youngest patrons via post during the time of Japanese internment;

And for my young readers, I did write a novel on the subject, VIVE LA PARIS, about an African American girl who first learns about the Holocaust from her piano teacher, and has to use the lessons to be her brother's keeper in modern times.

Even though it's not about WWII, I want to remind you of Ruby Bridges' unforgettable photobiography for children, THROUGH MY EYES, candidly told from the point of view of one of the girls who desegregated American schools, who dealt with terrifying prejudice in her own time. Ruby and Anne...two great young women who fought for a better world! A memorable lesson plan might be to compare and contrast their times and their trials, and to celebrate both of their contributions.

Hope these links are good for starters. The events of the historical period of WWII and any context of injustice are emotionally tough to teach, but as the adage goes, those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, and that's the last thing we want for our children or any children. In the media, children are increasingly likely to hear degrading remarks in the adult interest of creating "the other." Help fortify children against the disease and dangers of hatred and bigotry with knowledge, and the ability to recognize it where it's born. In honor of Anne!!!

1 comment:

E.Peterson said...

Hey Esme!

I just wanted to let you know that I find you amazing. Currently, I'm a pre-service educator seeking a license in both elementary and secondary education. One of my professors gave me the task, or rather the mission, to get in touch with you.

Our class is reading Educating Esme and I have to tell you, I'm in love with it. I love the way in which you write, in a manner that is real, candid, and raw. Your stories are inspiring, even in their moments of heart-break, and I am in awe of the atmosphere you were able to create in your room.

I would like to take the time to thank you for inspiring me to be not just a good teacher, but a great one. And for reassuring me that greatness is possible and that I too have the ability to make an impact on my students' lives. I am inspired by you and all you were able to do. Thank you for reminding me that it's important to have big dreams and high expectations, and for encouraging me not to shrink back from the person I am inside.

Thanks for your words of inspiration.