The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Common Sense Media says

Intense, powerful Holocaust book offers unique perspective.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

This can help kids connect with the historical events of the Holocaust in a more realistic way. Could also lead to some great discussions about evil and the nature of man. 

Positive messages

Clearly, there is evil presented. But readers will be touched by the power of friendship and compassion.

Positive role models

Readers will quickly relate to Bruno, who is uprooted from his home and moved somewhere "nasty and cold." His perspective allows readers to feel a strong sense of foreboding, long before they know the extent of the terror surrounding Bruno's world. Readers will be struck by the contrast between Bruno's normalcy and naivety, and the extreme horrors of the time.

Violence

Implied violence though none graphically shown. But the book is set in a death camp so emotional violence is a real factor to consider when your kids read the book. The ending involves very upsetting death.

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

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that even though the main character in this book is 9 years old, this book is a better fit for kids in late middle school and up. The book focuses on complex emotional issues of evil and the Holocaust, and raises questions about the nature of man. It could spark a great moral discussion. But kids will probably be very moved if not quite upset by some of the events in the book. Its theme is complex and powerful, and it will provoke emotions and questions that will need discussion and explanation. We recommend that you talk with your kids after they've read the book, or even read the book together.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When Bruno is forced to move away from his enormous Berlin home with his family, his life changes forever. Besides moving into a smaller house with no "nooks and crannies" to explore, besides having no one to play with except for his older sister (also known as the "Hopeless Case"), he's surrounded by soldiers that are constantly in and out of his father's downstairs office as well as other grown-ups who always seem angry or unhappy. Bruno misses his friends, his grandparents, and the city itself. And he doesn't understand what's going on around him. He hates everything about "Out-With" and is very lonely until he meets the boy on the other side of the fence.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This powerful book about the Holocaust stands out in part because of the unusual perspective: It's told through the eyes of the 9-year-old son of the commandant at Auschwitz, a boy who has no clue as to what is going on around him. This perspective allows readers to feel a strong sense of foreboding, long before they know the extent of the terror surrounding Bruno's world. Readers will be struck by the contrast between Bruno's normalcy and naivety, and the extreme horrors of the time.

Readers will quickly relate to Bruno, who is uprooted from his home and moved somewhere "nasty and cold" where he has no friends; he is lonely, his sister bugs him, and adults treat him as if he's not there. He wants to study art and read fantasy books rather than history and geography. He wants to get outside and explore. At one point Bruno even covets the life of the boy on the other side of the fence because at least he has other boys with whom he can play.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about World War II and the Holocaust. How is reading a story different than reading about facts in a history book? Which do you find more moving? Which are you more likely to remember?

  • How would the story be different if it were told from another point of view?

Book details

Author:John Boyne
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:David Fickling Books
Publication date:September 12, 2006
Number of pages:215
Publisher's recommended age(s):12

This review of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old October 27, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Loved it!

I picked this book up at the book store whilst looking for a book to read for my language arts class at school.I read it bit by bit, but it wasn't 'til the end when I really got into it.Mainly because it was due on monday, I had about 130 pages to read, and it was friday.Anyways aside from the point, once I really sat down properly and started reading the book, I couldn't put it down.The ending was so shocking and sad though, but I've always liked sad endings because I've found them to be more interesting.So basically to round things up-great book, educational, have to know at least a bit about WWII to sort of fill in the blanks, recommended!
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 14 years old Written bynerdgirl96 January 16, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

wonderful; a unique perpective

Somehow, events are all the more tragic when narrated by those who do not understand. It's a very good tale of friendship. It ends sadly, and I feel the ending sort of communicates that everyone is harmed by hate and violence. Of all the Holocaust novel I've read (and believe me, that's a lot) I think this is the only one I've read from this perspective-that is, from the point of view of a Nazi's son. The book shouldn't be used as an introduction to the Holocaust- you have to know, or it won't make any sense. You should also know that Out-With=Auschwitz (is that obvious?).
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 14 years old Written bystripesanddots March 14, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Amazing Book for Mature Readers

I had to read this book for school and I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I highly recommended it. It was very educational and it was great to see the friendship of Bruno and Shmuel. The perspective it was written from is amazingly unique (you would never think of what it must have been like to a Nazi's nine-year-old son). The ending was unfortunate and I wasn't really expecting it. There never really is any violence shown/written, although it is implied. I think it's okay for 12+.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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