The Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank
I read Ann Frank’s Diary as a Child. When I was in my tweens I was fascinated by World War Two, and especially the treatment of the Jewish population in Europe during the war. I read a lot of books by holocaust survivors. I could not believe that human beings could treat each other like that, in fact I still cannot. One of the books that really resonated with me though was Ann Frank’s The Diary of a young girl. I recently had reason to revisit this book and wanted to share with you why I think tis book is still relevant for today’s children.
The book resonated with me because here was someone like me who spent years living in a cramped space with other people hiding from the Nazis. Unlike others she did not have a happy ending. Her hiding place was discovered and she died in a concentration camp days before liberation.
What really captured my imagination about this book was not that the book contained a lot of drama, in fact quite the opposite. The diary records the mundane day to day activities in a strange environment. Because it was so normal it was also all the more shocking that in the face of the holocaust such normality continued. I also loved the fact that the families in this book were helped by people who in their own way stood up to the great evil occurring around them. In fact this common theme ran through many of the WWII books I read. For every fanatic and every person who followed along carrying out atrocities there were people who fought against what they believed to be wrong.
Why I Wanted Sam to Read This Book
Last year reviewer Sam was quite upset about the state of the world. It started with the fact that there are a lot of children in refugee camps and detention centres, and they could not do the things normal children could. Then he went on to worry about the war in the middle east and the persecution of Muslims by muslims and christians by muslims and muslims by christians. Faced with these global issue he felt helpless and he could not see a good end.
I could have had him read a book by a child involved in the current crisis but I wanted to show him that humanity has been dealing with similar issues since time began, and that good people can make a difference. It also helped that we were stopping in Amsterdam on our way to the UK for a family Christmas. So I hit upon the idea to introduce him to Ann and visit her house while we were there.
The Diary Revisited
My view of the diary was different to Sam’s and I had already visited Ann Frank’s House many years before. But a re-read for me and a new visit bought a different persepctive, especially after I had discussed the diary with Sam. It really does lend itself more to female readers, but there are many other books that boys might enjoy far more (I found these on Goodreads). The house had also changed since I went and wandered through the few rooms the two families and a friend lived in for over two years. You can now see where the people who helped them worked and you are told more about their stories. There is also a new museum part that tells the story of what happened after they were found out. And, even more impressively, there is a section where people discuss the impact Ann and her family had on them and their modern day relevance.
I believe that reading about people who have lived though some of the worst events in our history is important, no matter how far in the past the events occur. It is right that we are shocked by some of the event, but also good that we can see how the acts of others can make a real difference. For this reason I believe children should still be reading Ann Frank’s Diary.
I did not really enjoy reading Ann Frank’s Diary. There was too much about girl’s stuff. I did like the bits about what was going on in Amsterdam during the war, and the things that happened when she listened to the radio or looked out the window. But I really did not get what it was like for her to live in the attic until we went to see the rooms she live in.
I found the visit to the attic really interesting. They lived in such a small area. And it would have been so hard to be quiet during the day. I also found all the information about concentration camps and what went on during the war very interesting, and quite sad.
Although I did not really enjoy Ann’s Diary I am going to look for other books about boys during World War Two so I can find out what it was like for them.
I have not included any links for buying this book as it can be found almost anywhere you buy books. But you can look at the Ann Frank website here, and I have included some photos for you.