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Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

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Inspiring wartime journal reveals teen's inner life.
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What parents need to know

Educational value

Anne Frank's beautifully written diary is a teaching tool on multiple levels. First, it offers a kid's eye view of World War II, written innocently and meaningfully by a Jewish teen whose family is forced into hiding during the Nazi occupation of Holland. Anne follows the events of the war via radio news broadcasts and information shared by visiting friends, as she and her family anxiously await the allies' invasion of continental Europe. Second, the book is enormously telling about the inner life of girls in their early teens. Anne articulately describes her own emotional and physical feelings as she matures, including her struggles to get along with her parents, the beginnings of her sexuality and desire for love, and her wish to make a difference in a troubled world. On another level, Anne also devotes her time to studying history, literature, mathematics, and languages (though she admits she doesn't care for algebra). Her family places a high value on education, and her father becomes her teacher as well while they are in hiding. Anne writes to relieve her stress, share with a "friend," and unburden her feelings, repeatedly referring to a quote: "Paper is more patient than man."

Positive messages

Despite their fear, hunger, and harsh living conditions, the Franks and their fellow inmates of the "secret annex" show amazing courage and commitment to family. Anne writes movingly about the unjust treatment of Jews, and her goal of helping make the world a better place after the war. Equally inspiring is the relationship between the families in the secret annex and the friends outside who protect and feed them. The Franks also continue to observe their faith and other family rituals while in hiding. Most remarkable is just how normal Anne is, in spite of everything, which in itself offers a reassuring message of resilience for teens and parents of teens.

Positive role models

Anne Frank dreamed of becoming a great writer, and she achieved that goal, though she didn't live to see her words published. In the book, she shines through as a very normal teen with talent, spirit, and a hunger for learning. Adults in Anne's diary argue and struggle with each other -- we can only imagine their stress and anxiety -- and Anne is often at odds with the grownups, but all of these people, and their friends on the outside, inspire great admiration for keeping two families alive under extreme duress for two years. The adult Anne most appreciates is her father, who seems quiet, kind, and intelligent.

Violence

Anne and her family can hear air raids and shooting. They also regularly receive news of the war, and of friends and acquaintances being taken away to concentration camps, though it is not clear how much they know about what happens in the camps. The threat of violence is always present; the warehouse that contains the secret annex is invaded by burglars several times, bringing not only immediate danger, but the fear that the families will be seen and reported to the German police.

Sex

Anne writes about her growing sexual feelings; she says that sometimes she wants nothing but time alone to feel her breasts and listen to the beating of her own heart. She also mentions having once kissed a girlfriend and having asked that friend if they should feel each other's breasts, but the friend refused. Anne also writes a lot about her feelings of "longing" for Peter Van Daan, a teen boy whose family shares the secret annex with the Franks. She and Peter embrace and share their first kisses.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mr. Van Daan smokes cigarettes, and the Franks' friends on the outside talk about drinking wine at parties.

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.

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?

QUALITY

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 pre-teens 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.

Families can talk 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?

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  • 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?

Book details

Author:Anne Frank
Genre:Autobiography
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Pocket Books
Publication date:June 25, 1947
Number of pages:258

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Teen, 13 years old Written bysourcecoderocks October 9, 2011

Positive Role Models and Messages

I really loved this! I read it in sixth grade and it has really good role models and messages.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written byCAROLINE<3 November 3, 2011

AWESOME

I read this book when I was about 8 and then again when I was 14. I think that it is good 8 and up.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byFelicitous Freedom April 9, 2015

Great Book, Would Recommend

I recently decided to curl up with this book once again, and really enjoyed it. I think it's a great, realistic account of what life would be like for a person in hiding during a world war. Before I start giving my review in detail, you should know that there are in fact two versions of this book. The first, the critical version, was put together by Otto, Anne's father. This is a great read, but has been censored and shortened a little bit. Things such as conflicts between Anne and her mother were dialled down, and a few letters about Anne's personal development were cut too. The other version, the definitive version, was put together fairly recently in comparison, and contains 30% more content. I read both of these books, and would thoroughly recommend trying to get your hands on the definitive version. This is the diary of a young girl, and to censor her thoughts seems to me to take away the whole point of reading it. Also, a few of the other reviewers mention that the definitive version isn't suitable for boys or younger children, but really, the content in the book isn't harsh or confronting at all. Anne does talk about getting her period in one or two letters, but this is a fact of life and steering people away from this won't help them grow at all. That being said, some people would prefer to read the critical version. At the end of the day, it is their choice, and depends on the reader. Just bear in mind that there are differences between the two versions when you are deciding which to read. "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl" is set in wartime Holland. Anne is a young Jewish girl in hiding, along with 8 others. The diary's entries start before they have to go to their 'secret annex', as their hiding pace is revered to throughout Anne's entries, and follows Anne's journey from there. The entries reflect on Anne's thoughts and emotions, her development as a young girl into a teenager, and life in hiding. Anne's words are deep and profound, and tell a beautiful story. Of course, this beautiful story is a rather dark one. Anne is constantly living in fear of being found by the Gestapo. She has limited rations, and is cramped up into a tiny space, not allowed to go outside. The sound of gunshots are a common occurrence. The themes in this book are clearly dark. It's not a light read, at all. Anne's diary entries aren't graphic, but still leave you chilled. The entries Anne addressed were beautifully written. I found myself connecting with Anne, and before long I felt like she was a close friend. Anne's diary is written in such a way that it is impossible to distance yourself from her words. This book is a truly captivating read, and offers deep insites into a very important, yet dark, part of humanity's past. I would recommend for anyone in their late Tweens or above. This book would be enjoyed by a wide variety of ages.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence

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