My son is in Montessori and they are encouraged to do reports on subjects that interest them. So my 3rd grader (just turned 9) and two of his friends are doing a WWII report and loving learning about it. At first I encouraged him to focus on the politics and the battles (all of which fascinate him), but his teacher told them she wanted them to also include information about the Holocaust. I am struggling with how much or little information to give him and what to tell him at this age. I am pretty honest with him normally, but this is an event I consider very horrific and tragic and I guess I am I not sure if I am being overprotective or unreasonable. Also, I am mindful that this report will be "presented" to the class, which consists of 1st and 2nd graders as well.
I did end up getting him a book at the library that explains it in some detail and should give him all the information he needs for the report, but isn't "personalized." I, myself, am a history buff and have read several first-hand accounts of the Holocaust. I looked at the book or movie "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" with the thought that maybe that would give him a sense of it, but when I read the ending I thought "No way!." The same goes for almost any dramatization. He is certainly not sheltered and has watched many PG-13 movies, but in almost all cases, the good guys always come out ahead.
I guess I am just wondering if 8/9 is too young to tackle tough subjects like this? He is really not an overly sensitive kid, so I don't think he would find it as heartbreaking as I (and most adults) do. But, for example, my 7YO 1st grader IS sensitive and I think would be truly affected by learning something like this so young. Thankfully he isn't in the same class, but still.... Am I over-thinking this? Would this be on the curriculum in a regular 3rd grade class? Would you take a child this age to the Holocaust Museum? Show them actual footage? A fictionalized movie? Do I give him just the facts on their own merit or try to really help him understand why it was so horrible? Where is the line, or is there one?