Monday, February 24, 2014

Reading Anne Frank's Story

This last fall, our  history studies led us to the time period of WWII.  Specifically, we were reading about Anne Frank.  In the TOG curriculum, this comes around in Year 4 about Week 15.  There is a reading assignment for the Lower Grammar level in week 15 that is about Anne Frank.  The same subject is optional for Upper Grammar and non-existent for Dialectic and Rhetoric.  I thought that was unfortunate.  Anne Frank and her diary put a face to the persecution and danger lived by the Jews at the time.  I definitely wanted my kids to learn her story and so found books for all of them to read regarding her life.  They are pictured above.

The Story of Anne Frank by Brenda Ralph Lewis was the book I read to my lower grammar student.  It was very age appropriate.  The only disturbing thing about the book was that I couldn't finish it without crying.  My daughter didn't understand but opted to wipe my tears for me. 
 
I have the sweetest daughter, EVER!

The book did a great job of talking about her need to go into hiding, the danger in hiding, and what happened to Anne and her family afterward all in an age appropriate way.

For my Upper Grammar student, I found the book Anne Frank's Story Her Life retold for children by Carol Ann Lee.  I am uncertain if this particular book is still in print.  The "for children" in the title is what really drew me to this version.  The book is a telling of the Anne Frank story that follows her from birth to her eventual death.  At only 102 pages, it was a very manageable read for my 9 year-old.

When it came to my Dialectic student I thought, "He's old enough to read the diary itself."  I then purchased a used copy and handed it to him to read over Thanksgiving holiday. 

Please understand that I have never personally read Anne Frank's Diary.  I have only seen movies and read about her life.


So, this is where I would caution anyone wanting to do the same as I did.  It was only later that I realized that Anne Frank's Diary is, indeed, the musings, thoughts, and feelings of a teenage girl.  I had no idea that it contained what it did.  To be more specific, there are excerpts in the book that were not altogether appropriate for my 12 year-old boy to be going over.  Examples?  Anne talks about her period, at one point she goes into great detail regarding the female genitalia, multiple instances of romantic encounters with Peter, and her views of intimacy before marriage just do not agree with our own convictions.

No, we're not complete prudes.  We just felt that our kids (especially my son) didn't need to read about these thing in this context.  Besides, we felt these entries didn't really help to convey what we wanted him to learn from the book.
 
When I found out about these entries I quickly went through and put post-its on the sections that I would prefer my son not read and handed it back.  My son, meanwhile, was not heartbroken.  He can with all honesty say that The Diary of Anne Frank is not among his top 10 literature choices.  In fact, he had only been skimming the book to get an idea of what it said.  It was one time I didn't discipline him for not paying attention to his reading.
 
My own personal recommendation is that if I were to do it again, I would have my son read an edited version of Anne Frank's diary or a book about Anne Frank.  I had thought of just watching a movie, but the movie I previewed contained some parts that mirrored the diary, so we passed.


After everyone was all informed on the Anne Frank story, we went on a virtual tour of the annex at The Secret Annex Online.  Its a fabulous resource.  It retells the Frank story very well and you can see the annex and look up the people and the history all at the one site.  It could very well have been substituted for the reading if we had been running out of time. 

-A


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