All posts tagged Biography

Anne Frank: Her life in words and pictures, published by the Anne Frank House

Published June 11, 2013 by Dagmar

Anne FrankMany adults know the story of Anne Frank, the 14 year old girl who died in the Holocaust and whose diary told the story of her family’s ordeal hiding from the Nazis in Holland.  When I was young, we not only read The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, we saw the play.  Both the book and the play had a huge impact on me when I saw the play in middle school.

It always surprises me that my students don’t know Anne Frank’s story.  It was heartening to hear the outrage they expressed when they realized that Anne was killed by the Nazis just because she was Jewish.  This injustice touched my students deeply, and this particular book about Anne Frank’s life was in high demand during my sixth grade girls’ biography unit.

This book has a unique format.  Published by the Anne Frank House, this book is six inches square and includes many family photographs of the Frank family.  The beginning of the book shows a picture of the diary that made Anne famous.  It’s a red plaid diary that she chose herself for her 13th birthday.  Pasted inside the front cover is a beautiful picture of Anne on her birthday.  Readers are drawn in by the picture of a young and pretty girl with a big smile.

After the Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power, the Frank family decided to leave Germany for Holland in 1933, because of the many restrictions Hitler and the Nazis placed on Jews.  In 1940, the Germans invaded Holland, and life for Jews changed dramatically for the worse.  In 1942, the Frank family went into hiding with the van Pels at Otto Frank’s office.  In June 1944, the Frank family celebrated as Allied troops landed at Normandy; but, in August, their dreams were shattered as they were captured by the Nazis and sent to different work and extermination camps.

I think this book was so successful with my students because Anne’s family’s story is interwoven with Anne’s own words from her diary.  There are many pictures of where Anne’s family and the van Pels family hid, so young readers can really get a sense of what Anne might have experienced as she hid from the Nazis.  Pictures of her diary pages are scattered throughout the book. This book brings the story of the Holocaust to a whole new generation very effectively.

Anne Frank and her sister Margot were sent to Bergen-Belsen camp.  The only member of the Frank and van Pels families to survive the war was Anne’s father Otto, who was liberated at Auschwitz by the Russians.

This is a powerful book and highly recommended.  This book was a Junior Library Guild selection.


Story Painter, The Life of Jacob Lawrence by John Duggleby

Published May 10, 2013 by Dagmar

Story_PainterI love to read books about artists to my students.  This book is a particularly wonderful book about African-American artist, Jacob Lawrence.  I used this book for grades 1 through 6 during African-American History month.  It was wonderful to show my students Lawrence’s beautiful art depicting the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, The Great Migration, and Toussaint L’Overture’s battle to liberate Haiti.

This book is also a jumping off point to talk about important points in history.  Like many African-American artists, Lawrence lived in Harlem.  His Theater series illustrates the shows in Harlem’s famous entertainment halls, like the Cotton Club, and the Apollo. Jacob Lawrence was also a part of the Easel Project, a government art program stated in the 1930s to help artists.  Jacob Lawrence was paid to paint and was paid more than many jobs during the Great Depression.

Jacob Lawrence painted on paper and cardboard using tempura paint.  Remarkably, Jacob Lawrence would create series of paintings about a subject, sometimes as many as 40 paintings, by painting one color at a time.  He would put up all the sheets of paper for the series on his wall and then would move among the panels until he had painted all the colors.

This book is really a non-fiction book, but the color panels of his paintings are so dramatic and beautiful in this book that it makes a wonderful book to use as you would a picture book with groups of students.

This book is won the Carter G. Woodson Book Award granted by the National Council for the Social Studies, an award given to books that “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social science books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and relations sensitively and accurately.”