Last week our read-aloud book was Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. I remember reading this book with my third grade class, and loving it. My children have loved it as well. In fact, my seven-year-old begs for me to read “just one more chapter” every time we sit down to read because he really wants to find out what happens to Annemarie and her friends the Rosens. The title of the book comes from Psalm 147:
Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
The Lord doth build up Jerusalem: he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.
We hadn’t ever really discussed Nazi Germany with the kids before, but this has opened up a lot of discussion about what happened and why. At first my kids simply couldn’t believe that this kind of thing could ever REALLY happen. After all, in the words of that seven-year-old, “No one would really hate someone just because of their religion, would they?”
My son particularly liked the themes of loyalty and bravery. He was amazed at how Annemarie could act so much like a “silly little girl” when she needed to get past the soldiers. He was fascinated by the account of how the dogs were drugged so that they couldn’t detect the people on the boat. My five year old daughter really liked it when she snuck past the soldiers with the bread. Her appreciation of how scary the situation wasn’t as much as my older child, but she loved that she was brave and that she saved her friend and her family.
My son now wants to learn more about the Danish Resistance movement, and how they managed to hide their activities from the Germans. Any book that opens up further learning opportunities is one that we’ll consider a great success!