So we're heading towards the middle of Anne Frank's Diary now. I'm impressed by how much many of my students know about WWII--though at the same time, it's also important to say that I've had students how hadn't heard of the Holocaust. Seeing them respond to The Freedom Writer's Diary was rewarding, but I'm even more impressed to see some of the connections they are making to Anne. The connections to this young German/Dutch girl from the 1940s hiding for her life in a little attic in Amsterdam are not as obvious as some of the themes of gang violence, addition and broken families in the Freedom Writers. But they are making those connections.
When one student asked why the Freedom Writers had loved this book so much, other students jumped in to answer before I could. "She's locked up." "She's hated for her race." The fear Anne and her family faced is the same fear of a kid who hears bullets outside his or her window at night. Some students are also related to the frustrations Anne writes about with her family, whom she doesn't think are really capable of understanding her. (Is there a fourteen year old alive who feels differently?) As with any book worth the time, its themes are universal. I can't wait for the local Holocaust survivor who is coming to visit; what a powerful experience that will be to hear her experiences first hand!
On a bit of a more humorous note, referring the the Franks' constant efforts to be silent so they won't be caught, one student said, "Imagine being on quiet time for three years!"