Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry
Find Denmark on a map.
What do you know about World War II?
Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany in the 1930s. He founded the National Socialist German Workers party, also known as the Nazi party. Members of the Nazi party believed that the German people were superior to all other races, and that the German nation was destined to rule all of Europe. Nazis were also strongly anti-Semitic, meaning that they hated Jewish people. As Hitler gained power, he began to build up Germany's armed forces. In the late 1930s, Germany began invading and taking over its European neighbors. In 1938, Germany took control of Austria and Czechoslovakia, followed by Poland (1939); Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary (1940); Yugoslavia and Greece (1941). Hitler's forces invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, a move that would finally turn the tide of the war against him when the advance was halted in 1942-43. By early 1945 the Allies (including the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union) invaded Germany. Hitler killed himself in April, and Germany surrendered in early May 1945. At the end of the war, between 15 and 20 million soldiers and 25 million civilians had died. Civilian deaths included 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps.
Number the Stars is an example of historical fiction. This means that the main characters were invented by the author, but that the historical context (WWII) and political figures such as King Christian X are real. Lois Lowry's Afterword gives more information about which parts of the story are fictional and which are real.
Discuss what a symbol is. What symbols do we use today? Examples are: the flag, a hood ornament on a car, a cross, clothing logos, etc.
What does freedom mean to you?
Have you ever been called upon to be very brave?