A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Anne Frank's diary is a singular, moving look at World War II from a young girl's perspective. The Franks, along with another family, the Van Daans, hide in order to avoid capture during the German occupation of Holland. Aided by friends on the outside, Anne and the others spend two years in the "secret annex": several rooms enclosed in the warehouse of Anne's father's business. While war rages outside, Anne is a normal teen, thinking at least as much about friends, and boyfriends, and how her parents annoy her, as she does about issues of the day. She is a remarkably clever, thoughtful narrator, and her diary is as entertaining as it is a significant historical document. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is required reading for many middle-schoolers, and it will be rightfully upsetting to many of those readers. Though the events within the diary offer only a glimpse of the horrors inflicted on Jewish people by the Nazis, there is a disturbing element of fear throughout. What we as readers know about what happened to Jews outside the world of the book, and what happened to Anne after the book ends, is inescapable in the experience of reading Anne's diary. Many editions of Anne Frank's diary include an Afterword, explaining the events of World War II and the fate of Anne and the other inmates of the secret annex.
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What's the story?
In 1942, during the Nazi occupation of Holland, a Jewish girl named Anne Frank receives a blank diary for her 13th birthday. Treating the empty book like an imaginary friend named "Kitty," Anne writes faithfully, describing her fondest wishes and feelings. When her family is forced into hiding to avoid capture by the German police, the book becomes like a lifeline for Anne, who describes the fear, hunger, longing, and boredom she experiences during two years living in the place she calls the "secret annex." Trapped in cramped quarters with her parents and sister, three members of the Van Daan family, and an elderly neighbor, Mr. Dussel, Anne begins to mature, even experiencing her first love in the annex, and finds her greatest solace in the written word.
Is it any good?
If a novelist were to attempt to invent an authentic young narrator, situation, and story arc, that writer could do no better than the teen Anne Frank did with her diary. ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL is at once instructive, inspiring, and immensely engaging. Readers of any age will feel moved by Anne's great fears and everyday problems. Teens and preteens will identify strongly with her struggles to be understood -- or to be left alone -- and will thrill with her as young love unfolds. This is essential reading for young people learning about World War II, and it's a meaningful book about the inner life of teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl such an important book about World War II. What does Anne's diary teach readers about her world, about war? What makes Anne's story so meaningful? How did knowing what happened to Anne and so many other girls like her affect your experience of reading the book?
There's also plenty to address along the lines of Anne's thoughts and feelings as a teenager. She calls her diary "Kitty," and writes as though she were corresponding with another girl. Why does she need a friend so much that she invents one?
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