Holocaust Literature Pairing Project, Part Three

Samer Umran, Jennifer Couzens, Heather Yzenbaard

Title of Mini-Unit: The Night of the Book Thief: An Exploration of Survival

Wiesel, Elie, and Marion Wiesel. Night.New York, NY: Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. Print.
Links: N/A

The Book Thief.jpg
The Book Thief
Markus Zusak. The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
Links: N/A

Discussion Questions

  1. How can a individual's race put them at a disadvantage in today's world? What are some examples of these disadvantages that you see on the news or around the community?
  2. "To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know...is something still greater and more beautiful." - Pablo Neruda. In what ways can you connect this quote to either Night, or The Book Thief?
  3. In Night, describe the scene in the cattle wagon on the way to the camps. Why did Wiesel think that the screaming of Madame Schacter was worse than anything else?
  4. In both novels, words have the power to destroy and save lives. Discuss examples of characters and events in the story that display the power of words. Why is this important?
  5. Why doesn't anyone believe Moishe the Beadle? In what way did other citizens around the world share in Sighet's naïveté? Would you have heeded Moishe's warnings?
  6. Why do you suppose the narrator flashes forward to Rudy's death? Do you think this knowledge improves or lessens you appreciation of the book? Did the foreshadowing in general make the book more or less interesting for you as a reader?
  7. In what important respect did Hans Junior differ from his father?
  8. Papa Huberman slap Liesel when she said she hated Hitler. What are Huberman's thoughs of Hitler? What is an explanation for his actions? In your opinion, does the explanation justify him slapping Liesel?
  9. Night offers an eyewitness account of the utmost importance, but it is essentially one young man's story. Describe the similarities and differences with the fictional writing in The Book Thief?
  10. What evidence showed that almost all of the German population was suffering under the Nazi regime?
  11. Do you agree with Elie's treatment of his father just before his death? What explanations can we give for Elie's actions. Do these explanations justify his actions?
  12. In The Book Thief, Death says near the end that there were so many things he wanted to tell Liesel, "about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn'talready know?" What is Death referring to as beauty and/in brutality?
  13. After reading Night, were the happenings in The Book Thief more or less believeable? Rather, can you imagine The Book Thief as more than merely historical fiction?

Class Activities

  1. This activity will require students to preform roles in literature cirlces. (Discussion Director, Setting Czar, Literary Luninary, Researcher I & II, Creative Writer, Illustrator, and Question Writer.) Holocaust Pairing Literature Circle.docx
  2. This activity will require students to create their own survival stories. They have read Elie Wiesel's survival story and Liesel's fictional survival story, and now they opportunity to create their own stories. Students will have the option of writing stories of their own survival through a situation or they can create a fictional story based on a survival issue that is possible for a teenager to face. After students have written their stories they will have to answer a few questions about how their story relates to the survival stories depicted in The Book Thief and Night. Pairing Project Survival Stories.docx
  3. This is a creative writing activity that considers the voices of human mistreatment from the past and present. Creative writing Activity.docx
  4. This activity asks [[#|students]] to go beyond the literature we have read for class and delve into the literature during the Holocaust, more specifically, newspaper articles. The students will be encouraged to browse through different databases searching for stories of heroism, resistance and rescue or prejudice, hatred and antisemitism. The second part of the activity will have the students bring in these articles and share their findings in small groups. The small groups will keep an eye out for any noticeable trends from one particular newspaper or simply from story to story. A question near the end of the discussion I would ask the students is, "How are difficult topics treated in your articles?". For the final part, the students will pick one article that annoys them or inspires them and write a letter to the editor, giving him or her a piece of the students mind. (what are the genders of the editors? A question we most likely know the answer to as being male. How does this stereotype play out in our era?)

Original Multimedia

Interview with Death.gif

Additional Resources

  • Audio: The Listening Library presents: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, read for you by Allen Corduner
  • TeachingTolerance: This is a website “for educators to find thought-provoking news, conversation and support for those who care about diversity, equal opportunity and respect for differences in schools.” It can provide inspiration and support. Teaching Tolerance provides educational materials—from articles that make you think to presentations you can share.
  • A Teacher's Guide to teaching the Holocaust: This is a great resource. I particularly like the interactive quizzes. This is produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,College of Education, University of South Florida © 2005. It includes: Bibliographies, documents, galleries, maps, movies, museums, music, dramas, quizzes, software, virtual reality movies, and websites.
  • Study Guide: This is the study guide produced by Learning Links Inc. It may be duplicated by individual teachers. It is a forty-four page guide for teaching The Book Thief.It includes a brief synopsis, back ground information about World War II, information about Jesse Owens, discussion questions, vocabulary exercises, and questions that make connections to literature terms.
  • The Devil's Arithmetic: This is a movie about a teenage girl from a Jewish family in present day who is transported from her family's Passover Seder meal to Poland during the Holocaust. At the beginning of the story the girl, Hannah, has very little respect for her family's Jewish traditions but after her experience in a concentration camps she realizes the brutality Jews faced and how they struggled to survive. This is a great video that could help students relate to what it must have felt like to be a teen during the Holocaust. It can also help students identify what survival is and how different individuals have to survive different situations.
  • Holocaust ABC News Clip: This is a news clip from a recent broadcast of ABC news that discusses a unique perspective and story about a group of Jews that survived the Holocaust, via a creative solution that hasn't been heard until now.
  • Paradise Nowis a film about two close Palestinian friends, Said and Khaled, who are recruited by an extremist group to commit a terrorist attack in Tel-Aviv, blowing themselves up in the process. However, things go wrong and the two are separated at the border. One of them remains dead set on carrying out the attack to the end. The other begins to doubt that the attack will have any real effect on the current conditions in Palestine, other than a short lived sense of revenge. He questions if it is really worth his life, let alone the life of his victims.
  • ShalomDCH.orgis a Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation that represents the Jewish communities in and surrounding the Durham-Chapel Hill counties. The essays from the link below are about how different stories of survival and hardship during the Holocaust are still valuable to our society today. For our purposes, it will be interesting to discuss, critque, and investigate these stories as they are partiularly from viewpoints of second and third generation Holocaust survivors.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Website: This site provides a lot of information about the Holocaust for both students and teachers. There is a section solely devoted to helping teachers understand why it is important to teach about the Holocaust and how they can go about teaching it. The section that I thought would be useful for students would be the Holocaust Encyclopedia. This source allows students to type in any topic associated with the Holocaust and the site will bring up articles related to the topic. This site even has articles about who Elie Wiesel was and what his life was like. This would be a great source for students to use as a reference point while reading is Night and The Book Thiefto answer any questions they had about historical references in the books.
  • The Book Thief Chronological Timeline: This is a timeline that lays out the historical events that are specifically mentioned in The Book Thief. This would be a good source for teachers to use as a guide of what historical events to discuss before students start reading, and it would be a good source for students to be able to utilize while they are reading.
  • Night Workbook: This is a workbook for students to utilize while they are reading Night.The workbook includes activities that begin before the students even start reading. These activities allow students to keep track of their own thoughts about the book, make personal questions, and analyze what message the book is trying to convey.
  • Historical Newspaper Archivesis a site where students can find newspaper articles from the Holocaust. Along with going hand-in-hand with the 4th activity, students can also find articles from the time period that focus on events from around the world to help them attain a better understanding of the time period from more than just a Holocaust perspective.