What age for The Diary of Anne Frank? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 31 Old 09-24-2009, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Title says it all. What age do you think is appropriate for reading/learning about The Diary of Anne Frank?

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#2 of 31 Old 09-24-2009, 11:15 PM
 
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I don't know if age alone is a big issue for reading the book. However, I think that the book needs some serious context in order to be as powerful as it should be. When I read the book, I was in sixth grade, I think, and we read it out of the blue with no history to surround it. My classmates and I thought it was horrifically dull and lame.

When I was teaching, we devoted several months to a multi-subject unit about WWII and the Holocaust. Our kids (who were in eighth grade) were so aware of what was going on, and especially the consequences Anne's family would face if they were caught, that the book had a lot more meaning.

Eighth grade was a good age, I think, for kids to be able to handle information about the Holocaust that they needed to put the book into context. I might go a bit younger with kids who were not overly sensitive.
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#3 of 31 Old 09-24-2009, 11:49 PM
 
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I agree, 7th or 8th grade.
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#4 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 12:14 AM
 
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I think Anne's age at the time of writing is ideal. She was 13 I think, so 7th or 8th grade.
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#5 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 12:30 AM
 
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I think I read it in 7th grade (not in school, on my own). I think it really depends on the reading level of the kid.
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#6 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 12:56 AM
 
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I read it in the sixth grade, but it was not the first book I read based in the war... I think the first one I read was Lisa by Carol Matas.
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#7 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 01:35 AM
 
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When I was in school, the advanced reading group read it in 6th grade.

We all had plenty of knowledge of the historical background. Many of our parents remembered WW2 from their childhoods (I'm an older mom, and our town tended to have older parents,) and number of students had family who were holocaust survivors or escapees.

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#8 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 01:45 AM
 
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I read it in 4th grade, but thats when we learned about WWII so it was pretty relevant.
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#9 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 03:30 AM
 
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I loved it in middle school. I think that it would have been lost on me earlier. It is a fantastic book to read as an adult, but hard to do without sobbing.
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#10 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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I went to a regular public school and we read it, as a class, in 5th or 6th grade. I loved it!

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#11 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 12:14 PM
 
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I first read it in 2nd grade, but I re-read it in 7th grade. I got more out of it emotionally and intellectually the second time as I had a better background for what was going on at the time. So, while I could read the words in 2nd grade, I needed an adult to help with the context, which I didn't have. I think that's probably the biggest obstacle with reading this book.

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#12 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 12:33 PM
 
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I think it's generally taught in middle school - 6th, 7th and 8th grades, but I wouldn't be surprised if some precocious readers picked it up much earlier than that. In those cases, I would say it depends on the maturity of the child and whether he or she has some historical context for the events in the book.

I've always been careful to give permission to my children to abandon a book if they find it's beyond their comprehension. They were early readers, so often picked up books that weren't age appropriate. They usually accepted my advice that they may not be ready to read something, but in the cases where they went ahead, they often put it aside after reading a little and satisfying their curiosity.

If the book has been assigned in school and you think your child isn't ready, that's a tougher issue. One to take up with the teacher.
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#13 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 01:57 PM
 
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Middle school/junior high. I think I read it earlier on my own, but it's one of those books that I think packs the greatest punch if the reader is close to the same age as the writer. Kids much younger can handle the content, so I don't think it's harmful for younger kids to read it, but I think it's one of those books where the social/developmental aspect of the storyline (if a diary can be said to have a storyline) makes it more gripping. In my experience, younger readers understand the entire book, but older readers tend to relate to it on a more personal level.

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#14 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 02:59 PM
 
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I read it on my own somewhere around 13 or 14. I found it devastating. i was an early, advanced reader and actively avoided books whose content was very emotionally difficult or adult.
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#15 of 31 Old 09-25-2009, 03:36 PM
 
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I read it in grade 8 English class.

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#16 of 31 Old 09-28-2009, 10:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, the reason I asked is DD1 came home from school saying that her teacher had read some of it and talked about it with her class (mixed grades 3rd-5th). I was surprised and thought that was a bit young. They're studying "leaders" right now and picking biographies and autbiographies to read. I think she introduced it as an example of an autobiography and a kid making a difference, but I was really surprised. I think of it as more of a middle school/high school book.

Dd's teacher this year is really great, but she hasn't taught kids this young before. She's previously taught middle school aged kids.

Dd didn't seem fazed by it, but I was considering saying something to the teacher. Just not sure. I think it may be over and done with now.

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#17 of 31 Old 09-28-2009, 11:35 AM
 
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Well, the reason I asked is DD1 came home from school saying that her teacher had read some of it and talked about it with her class (mixed grades 3rd-5th).
There may be some advanced readers who are fine with it, but generally that does seem a little young to read the book. It sounds like the teacher didn't expect them to read the entire thing though, so it's probably fine. I wonder how much context she provided though?
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#18 of 31 Old 09-28-2009, 02:14 PM
 
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I know this is on the class reading list for this year (DS is in 4th grade at an academically oriented private school) and I am really nervous about his reaction to it. I have very mixed feelings about his learning about the holocaust and related history and would love to keep him "innocent" a bit longer.
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#19 of 31 Old 09-28-2009, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yeah, they weren't reading it themselves, but I think she read excerpts to them. Dd1 told us about it – that she had to hide because the Nazi's didn't like Jews during the war and that during the war her father got the diary published and that all of her family except her dad died and she did, too. Dd2 (who's 5!) was thinking about being upset about that, but I told her it was a long, long time ago and I think she was okay with it. I'm just not ready to go into the holocaust yet, so I'm hoping they didn't really get into Auschwitz and gassing, etc. I really can't remember how old I was when I learned about that, I know there were TV shows (Hogan's Heroes reruns) and movies (Indiana Jones), but I feel like it was probably when I was older when I really learned about death camps.

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#20 of 31 Old 09-28-2009, 03:30 PM
 
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My 8 yo and I have discussed the holocaust, and Anne Frank, over the years. I wouldn't choose to read The Diary of Anne Frank to an 8 yo, but I don't have a problem with discussing the holocaust and Anne Frank's life at that age--although, of course, I would be concerned about keeping it age appropriate and waiting on the more horrifying details. I don't know how I'd feel about excerpts being read unless I'd read the excerpts.
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#21 of 31 Old 09-28-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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Dd2 (who's 5!) was thinking about being upset about that, but I told her it was a long, long time ago and I think she was okay with it.
I think this is a large part of the problem with reading it too young. It should be hard and sad and upsetting, and when introduced too young it needs to be softened in order to be processed.

It's not even that the book itself is horribly upsetting. The book is a very sweet simple diary of a very typical girl, though unable to leave their hiding space, nothing horrific happens during the story. The true emotional impact of the story come from the knowledge of what is happening outside the hiding space, and what happens after they get caught.

The book works best when used to put a face/voice to the atrocity. When read at the same age Anne was, and with a understanding of what happened during WW2; it becomes a way for students to link to the past on a personal level and understand that the millions who died were people just like us with the same feelings and concerns, not just anonymous masses. When introduced too young before the historical back ground is understood, it instead becomes an introduction to the atrocity, and from that perspective, it is a watered down version.

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#22 of 31 Old 09-28-2009, 07:03 PM
 
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I read it in 5th grade. I definitely remember being in the grade school library and not the Jr. High library. My teacher encouraged me to read it. It was not part of a class project. I had very little background on the Halocaust, so it was an eye opener. I must have known something, but not much.

In 7th grade I know we read several books on Hiroshima, and Nagasaki and Eli Weisel.

I was OK with the material. I read a lot of Stephen King in 7th and 8th grade and I'm not scarred.... (I don't think....)

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#23 of 31 Old 09-29-2009, 10:27 PM
 
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I think this is a large part of the problem with reading it too young. It should be hard and sad and upsetting, and when introduced too young it needs to be softened in order to be processed.

It's not even that the book itself is horribly upsetting. The book is a very sweet simple diary of a very typical girl, though unable to leave their hiding space, nothing horrific happens during the story. The true emotional impact of the story come from the knowledge of what is happening outside the hiding space, and what happens after they get caught.

The book works best when used to put a face/voice to the atrocity. When read at the same age Anne was, and with a understanding of what happened during WW2; it becomes a way for students to link to the past on a personal level and understand that the millions who died were people just like us with the same feelings and concerns, not just anonymous masses. When introduced too young before the historical back ground is understood, it instead becomes an introduction to the atrocity, and from that perspective, it is a watered down version.
Yes, exactly this.

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(Ellien C)I was OK with the material. I read a lot of Stephen King in 7th and 8th grade and I'm not scarred
For me, this book is vastly different than a fictional horror book (although I LOVE King). It is a real horror book and I think that a certain level of maturity is needed in order to understand the book and its message fully.

I read it when I was 13 as well and I remember the significance thinking "wow, she's just as old as me and our lives are so different!"
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#24 of 31 Old 09-30-2009, 02:15 PM
 
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My son read it in 6th grade (and again in 8th for school) along with Night , so my daughter probably read them both in 5th. Both books made a huge impact on the two of them. My daughter has, as a result, developed a huge interest in the Holocaust and reads some rather.... questionable (according to other people) books.
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#25 of 31 Old 10-01-2009, 01:33 AM
 
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I'd say about fifth or sixth grade, depending on the child. That's when I read it and it helped, along with some other books, spark an interest in the Holocaust for me.

As to Mtiger...I don't think there are questionable books about this subject. It did happen and some horrible things happened to other people. But, in the process, some people went to great lengths to help others, even giving their lives in the process.

If anything, I think it is a good character study in what would you do in a situation like that?

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#26 of 31 Old 10-01-2009, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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FTR, dd1 is 8 and is a 3rd grader in the mixed age class (3rd -5th).

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#27 of 31 Old 10-02-2009, 12:19 AM
 
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My son has been reading Maus over and over since he was 7. He is very interested in WWII. His grandmother lived in Holland during the Nazi occupation. He has not had any nightmares. He has nightmares when he watches Disney movies...
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#28 of 31 Old 10-02-2009, 08:22 PM
 
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His grandmother lived in Holland during the Nazi occupation. He has not had any nightmares. He has nightmares when he watches Disney movies...
Funny, both my parents grew up in Holland during the occupation and when I was a child my nightmares didn't have boogeymen or ghosts... it was nazis.

I guess with the history of my family I feel a real concrete connection to the book and I want my son to read it when he's emotionally ready to handle everything that comes from reading a book like that. I want to be able to explain to him that because of that war Oma was seperated from her family (including her mom) as a young girl for a whole year, his Opa and his brothers joined the Resistance movement and risked their lives for people they didn't even know. I want to share that and more with DS, but not overwhelm him or gloss over facts KWIM?
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#29 of 31 Old 10-03-2009, 12:01 AM
 
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As to Mtiger...I don't think there are questionable books about this subject. It did happen and some horrible things happened to other people. But, in the process, some people went to great lengths to help others, even giving their lives in the process.
I agree. But I did get some odd looks & comments when she was reading Rise & Fall and Doctors From Hell in 7th grade...

I do think it's important for the kid reading Diary of Ann Frank, Night, etc. to have the ability to understand the horror of the situation. Ann Frank didn't have much impact on my son, but he just fell apart at the end of Night.
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#30 of 31 Old 10-04-2009, 03:22 PM
 
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I read it sometime around the 5th grade but it was also when I was going through my WWII phase (which you can blame on the fictional works of Michelle Magorian, which are all amazing by the way). I don't know how I would have dealt with the book though if I didnt have a lot of knowledge about what was going on during WWII.
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