Okay, though the title may seem silly we are aware that many English classes teach Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl as part of the canon. We feel that another great pairing can be done between the young adult book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and the diary of Anne Frank. For those who don’t know, Anne Frank was a young girl who was a Jew during
the time of Nazi occupation in Europe. She was born and lived in Germany but moved to Amstradam where she lived out the rest of her life. Her family went into hiding to avoid being captured by the Nazi’s and taken to a concentration camp. However, Anne’s family was eventually betrayed and along with her sister, Anne died in a concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 15. Her diary was later found and eventually published into a book, film, and play.
Anne was a good writer, her diary has fascinating insight into what life was like for her during her months and years in hiding. Since she was very young, her diary, and now book, would make an intriguing comparison in the classroom with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Both books are told by young narrators who do not quite understand all that is going on around them. War is a complex idea to an innocent child and it is evident in both these books. Also, there are interesting elements that can be discussed between the books, such as the genre. Anne Frank’s Diary was obviously written as a non-fiction piece since it was the story of her life during WWII, while The Boy in the
Striped Pajamas is a fictional story made up by author John Boyne.
Questions that would could be asked while teaching both books could be related to how the stories are told. One narration is told in first person and the other in third. How does this change the way we read the book? Which one seems more believable? Do you get to know both characters the same, or are there differences? How do their experiences effect you? Which story do you think you enjoyed more? Why do you think that?
Students could enjoy The Boy in the Striped Pajamas more because it may flow better or seem to have a more interesting plot. However, this could help as a teacher to get students to have an understanding of point-of-view and different styles of writing. Also, it would help with genre and what makes them different. Not only are these elements applicable while comparing both books, but these stories may very well draw emotions from students when they find that both young narrators do not live to see the war end. Students will hopefully be able to start feeling emotions for the characters and begin to make the moves that are required to put themselves in the texts they read.
Again, it may be easy to have the students read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl throughout the week and on Friday read to them from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, or split the books into separate weeks for the unit, whatever seems the best way to teach them.
The comparisons within these books would be very powerful within a classroom setting. Students may easily be drawn into these young peoples lives and the war that brought them to a tragic end; a war that was very real and almost unimaginable.
To see a review we’ve done on The Boy in Striped Pajamas click here. And if students find themselves fascinated with the story of Anne Frank, they can visit her official website and learn more about this intriguing young woman, Anne Frank’s Official Site.