Friday, April 13, 2012
I Have Lived A Thousand Years
Growing Up In the Holocaust
by Livia Bitton-Jackson (1997)
Not an easy book to read. And they all shouldn't be easy, should they? A 13 year old Jewish girl and her family are forced into ghettos, labor camps, and concentration camps under Nazi Germany. The point is made very clear that it is a daily miracle any of them survived the inhumane treatment. Strong story of will, of family, of caring for others and not allowing oneself to be changed or beaten by a terrible ordeal.
The degrading violence and personal humiliations are not white washed, the facts of daily conditions in the camps are clearly presented. Great opportunities for a variety of lessons across the curriculum. I remember visiting a camp, Dachau I think, when I was 11 or 12, and the strongest memory I have is how small and cramped the sleeping areas were, how little room there was between the bunk levels. Still very clear to me 30+ years later.
While I think it's important for children to be aware of the Holocaust and of similar historical and current events, I don't think I'd introduce a book this frank and real until 6 or 7th grade. Having the students/readers the same age as the author when she lived through these horrors could be more personal and powerful.
And now I want to go read The Book Thief again.