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Learning to Respect Differences through Cultural Diversity in Literature Teaching Acceptance

Carol S. Heidecker

Contents of Curriculum Unit 98.05.06:

To Guide Entry


In the school I work at, not a day goes by without some kind of physical or verbal assault. Sometimes it's precipitated by racial prejudices between the Puerto Ricans and African-Americans. Other times there are inner racial and religious discriminations that occur. In other circumstances, a fight may break out over a mere pencil. Whatever the cause, hatred is ever prevalent, giving birth to acts of strategic cruelty. Sadly, some of our students derive a misguided sense of importance from the power they feel when they are able to intimidate through words or physical acts that

demean. Many of our students come from broken homes where a sense of well-being and the healthy development of a solid self-esteem are not often found. Through various parent/guardian conferences, I have found that my students' parents are struggling with their own issues and are unable to provide the kind of stability that nurtures domestic harmony. It is not surprising that we have students who engage in aggressive acts, finding themselves in the office or suspended so often that they seem to be out of class more often than they are in class. As I watch various scenarios unfold, I wonder how many of our students will fall victim to the seduction of gangs that give kids a sense of power and importance--a place where they can find some distorted semblance of belonging. Also, I wonder how many will become innocent victims of gangs whose reason for hating them will simply be that they were born into a different race.

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The Holocaust

When one ponders the extreme destructive power of hatred, what can easily come to mind is the unfathomable Holocaust of World War II--the obliteration of approximately 5.8 million Jewish people1, an estimated 2.5 million Soviet prisoners of war, tens of thousands of Poles and thousands of Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian peasants2. It is difficult to understand; however, how the seed became planted in the mind of the man infamously known as Hitler has an origin.

In the late 1800's, Karl Lueger (1844-1910) used his belief in racial superiority, namely anti-Semitism, as a means to get votes during the Vienna mayoral elections. He used the Jews as a scapegoat for the economic difficulties his people were experiencing. This appeal was widely accepted, thus placing him at his desired post--mayor of Vienna, Austria3. Adolph Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria and it was during Lueger's long rule that Hitler found himself looking to him as a hero. He studied the anti-Semitic publications inspired and supported by Lueger that were openly distributed to the general public. Karl Lueger saw anti-Semitism as a means to win an election, never realizing that his insidious ideas would be taken to a level beyond the grasp of human understanding.

The "Savior" of Germany

In Germany, during the early 1930's, millions of people were out of work because of the worldwide economic depression. The faith of many in their existing government was waning. These factors set the stage for the inevitable rise of a new leader, Adolf Hitler. He was a charismatic speaker who won the appeal of a vast number of Germans who were desperate for change. Before the depression, Hitler's party, the Nazis (The National Socialist German Workers Party), was virtually unknown. Nevertheless, in 1932 the Nazis won the elections and in January of 1933 Hitler was recognized as Chancellor. Many believed he would be the country's savior4.

Shortly after Hitler came into power he eliminated the freedom of press, speech and assembly, also, the right to privacy; therefore, people's mail became accessible to his officials, phones were tapped, and searches without a warrant were permitted. He used these tactics to ensure the enforcement of Nazi policies. Those guilty of opposing the new order were beaten or killed by the SA (Nazi Storm Troopers).

Once all organized opposition was eliminated, Hitler poured his attention into creating an Aryan "master race." He viewed Jews as being a poisonous race that were as parasites, weakening any race they came in contact with. Therefore, they should be removed. Nazi policies with respect to Jews developed gradually. But as time passed, Hitler's ambivalence as to how this should be accomplished evolved into a decisive, permanent solution, hence, the "Final Solution."

When World War II ended, many people thought that death had come to Hitler's distorted ideals. However, in spite of the collapse of the Nazi regime, his beliefs echo on, finding expression on the lips of a new generation of believers.

The Skinhead Phenomenon

By the mid-eighties a phenomenon that originated in England during the early 1970's found its way to America's streets, the Neo-Nazi Skinheads5. The Skinheads' goal is to continue the work Hitler began, to create an Aryan race. This, however, does not only mean elimination of the Jew. Most murder victims of the American Skinheads come from Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, homosexuals, and homeless people. Murders committed by the Skinheads in the United States during 1987-1990 came to a total of 6, and from 1990-1993 the total ballooned to 37. Our own homespun version is considered the most violent in the world, only matched by their German counterpart. They are also known to beat, stab, shoot, steal, and desecrate synagogues6.

Membership is approximately 3,500 in 40 states. There is no national Skinhead organization. However, the skins have become closely linked with other hate groups. For example, Shawn Slater, a well-known leader of the Denver skins became associated with the KKK and later led a Klan rally. Ultimately he and his faction left the Knights of the KKK to join a more radical Klan group. Through his influence, many Skinheads now march with Ku Kluxers in their demonstrations promoting anti-Semitism and white supremacy7.

Genocide in Africa

It seems inconceivable that in 1994 the world would witness the genocide of one million people. Hatred of the Hutu for the Tutsi was the instigation of this heinous act. Both groups are Rwandese people, no different in physical attributes, language, beliefs, and culture. Yet a divisional chasm was created to such an extent to bring about a difference where there is little difference. This divisional chasm was begun by the political use of one group over another8.

Astonishingly, the international community was slow in taking any action to stop the systematic, nationwide massacre of the Tutsi. People throughout the world watched the news in utter disbelief. Hundreds of bodies were seen floating down rivers while whole villages were littered with their former occupants. Men, women, children and infants were mercilessly exterminated.

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When will the human race learn from its previous history so that the mistakes of the past no longer repeat themselves? The unimaginable has happened once again and no one attempted to stop it. Hate crimes continue to grow, paradoxically, in an era of political correctness. It is time for all people to consider what can be done to prevent such occurrences. As educators, we have a podium from which to speak to educate our students about the consequences of hatred both on a local level as well as at the international level.

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The approach of the next millennium offers humanity a renewed hope as a new era begins. What can humanity hope for in the twenty-first century? A world of peace? A world of unification? If this is our hope, we must address issues of division that are prevalent within our educational institutions. We must take responsibility to educate and build the character of our children so that they arrive at an appreciation for themselves and learn acceptance for those who are different. If given the opportunity, our nation's children can learn to appreciate their own differences and the differences of others through understanding the varied and marvelous heritage's that enrich our nation and make our country what it is today.


With this in mind, I have planned a unit that promotes New Haven's curriculum within a multicultural literature-based thematic unit, "Learning to Appreciate and Respect Differences Through Cultural Diversity in Literature: Teaching Acceptance." My goal is to establish a sense of pride in my students for their own cultures, and an appreciation for other cultures by introducing literature that shows the struggles and courageous efforts of people as they overcame adversity.

I hope to accomplish this goal through the study of books representing the following cultures: African American in Sounder, Japanese in Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Jewish in The Hiding Place, and Hispanic in Poems Across the Pavement.

General Objective

As a teacher of Reading at the sixth grade level, my general objective is to provide my students with a balanced literacy program. Such a program would include reading aloud, shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, interactive writing, shared writing, guided writing, independent writing and publication. Therefore, I intend to incorporate activities and strategies that support the above and my students' continued development as life-long readers.

Ongoing Objectives:

-to understand that literature reflects and illuminates human experiences, motives, conflicts, and different value systems and philosophies
-to engage critically and constructively in oral and written presentations that foster the exchange of information and develop personal growth
-to produce a variety of writing
-to become aware of different cultures by reading a variety of multi-ethnic literature
-to appreciate the courage of people from other cultures
-to have a sense of pride for ones own culture
-to maintain a Reading Log of all books read during the year

Culminating Unit Activity

The students will publish a biography based on someone they learned about from this thematic unit. The students will be taken through the entire publishing process; from first draft through revising, editing, and illustrating.

Introduction to the Students

They will be given an agenda that presents a proposed timeline for the reading of each book. In addition, each student will fill in a multiple-choice Pretest that will also serve as a Posttest. (See Appendix A and Appendix B, Sample A)

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I chose Sounder and Poems Across the Pavement because my sixth-grade students will be able to identify with the cultures represented in each. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes and The Hiding Place were chosen because they represent cultures completely unfamiliar to them. All are strong literary pieces that clearly exemplify the beauty of the human spirit from culturally diverse perspectives.

Synopsis of Sounder

Sounder is a moving story about a young, African-American boy who has a secret desire to learn how to read. Privately, he makes a vow to himself that someday he will read, although, no one in his family has ever learned.

His father is a share cropper for a white land owner. The family finds itself in the midst of winter with very little food and money. The boy and his father repeatedly attempt to hunt small game, but are unsuccessful. Finally, a morning comes when the boy wakes up to the smell of food that his family only eats at Christmas time. Three days of endless feasting pass; however, the boy notices that his mother hums frequently, something she does when she is worried. Although his stomach no longer aches with the pangs of hunger, he senses that something is wrong.

On the third day, Sounder, his father's dog is out hunting alone. He usually warns the family when someone is approaching. This day Sounder's master is taken by surprise when the sheriff and his deputies barge through the front door. The father is accused of stealing the food that is openly sitting in the kitchen. Hence, the sheriff makes his arrest. Meanwhile, Sounder has returned.

As the father is cuffed and taken to the wagon, Sounder strains to get at the men who are taking him. One man tells the boy that he had better hold the dog unless he wants something to happen to him. The father is placed in the back of the wagon, and shortly after he sits down he is hit across the face with a chain. The boy's arms begin to weaken as he tries to hold Sounder back. Sounder's determination and strength overpower the boy. As Sounder runs after the wagon, gun shots ring out in the wintry air. A yelp is heard; Sounder hobbles away from the house. The boy tries to look for him, but only finds a piece of his ear and blood on the ground.

The next day, the boy's mother makes a cake for the him to take to the jail. (At that time, women were not allowed to visit people in jail.) Before the cake reaches his father, it is destroyed by probes that ensure nothing is hidden. This is the last time the boy sees his father for many years. Sounder stays missing for two weeks. When he returns, he is crippled in one leg and has an eye missing. He is unable to bark. Even so, the family is happy to have him back.

The father is moved to a prison camp, but since the family is black they are not allowed to know where the father has been moved to. Amazingly, the boy sets out in search of his father. He travels to different prison camps he hears about, hoping to come across one that has his father in it. With every return, Sounder greets him with a whine of delight.

On one of his trips, he enters a small town and sees a school yard full of children like himself. The teacher comes over to him and notices that he is wounded. He offers to take the boy in and bandage his hands. As they talk, the teacher finds out how far a journey the boy has had. He invites him to stay the night at his house. During his stay there, the teacher talks to him about learning, books, reading and returning to attend school.

Through this teacher's help, the boy learns how to read a book he found in a trash can during one of his trips. Although the book has no cover, it is the greatest treasure to him because it is the first thing he owns outside of his clothes. The boy returns to his mother able to read. He discusses his invitation to stay with the teacher during the school months and says that he will continue to help with the farm in the summer months if she allows it. He explains that he is expected to earn his keep by hauling wood and doing other chores for the teacher. She agrees to the arrangement.

After six or seven harvests, a lone figure, small enough to be a child, comes down the road toward the boy's house. The whole family wonders about the figure walking in such incredible heat. As the figure comes closer Sounder gets up and runs. He is the only one who recognizes that his master is home. The deep baying of the great hunting dog rings out for the first time since he was shot. Sounder no longer looks like he is crippled. Instead, he has transformed into the dog of his youth. Gently, Sounder greets his master, aware that he could easily knock him down if he jumps on him. The boy and his family realize, through Sounder's actions, who the lone figure is; they also run to meet him.

The boy's father was hurt in a dynamite blast that left one side of his body disfigured and partially paralyzed. This has left the father hunched over, giving him the appearance of someone quite small. After a couple of months have passed, the father decides to take Sounder hunting again. That same night, Sounder returns alone. The boy sets out to search for his father and finds him leaning against a tree. Sounder attempts to arouse his master, but there is no response. The boy tells his father to rest. After the boy's father is buried, Sounder dies a short time later.

The Power of This Book

The boy's dream of reading is realized through a great tragedy. However, the boy's determination to find his father leads him to a place he would have not encountered otherwise. Also, if he had not had such a strong desire to learn, he would not have been willing to walk the long distance between his home and the teacher's in order to get an education. The book from the trash can would not have been held in such high regard. There are many thought provoking themes that run throughout this classic piece of literature. By exploring these themes, I hope to challenge my students to consider the privilege they have. Also, I would hope that my African-American students could find a sense of pride in their association with this amazing boy who accomplishes what very few in his era could.

By the same token, I would hope that the Hispanic students would be moved to feel a sense of indignation at the injustices suffered by this family, and come into a sense of awe for what the boy was able to accomplish. The boy is not only a role model for African-Americans, he is a role model for every culture.

Furthermore, the student population I work with, in general, does not have a sense of the importance of an education. Books from the library are often lost and never paid for. Class texts are written in. Gum is sometimes found inside and outside of books. There is an irreverence for the materials we are extremely fortunate to have. Also, many think that school is for socializing. I believe the book, Sounder, exemplifies the message educators desire for all students to understand--education is imperative and a right that was not easily available to everyone. This is something we never should forget and something we need to help our students remember and come to understand.

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*Due to the brevity of pages allowed for publication, I will provide one complete introductory lesson per book.

Background Information:

-I will introduce the following vocabulary: injustice, indignant, subhuman, inhuman, disparity, inequalities.
-Review the use of quotes for usage in the Character Chart
Time Duration:

This should take two to three class periods (class periods are 45 minutes long), depending on the length of the discussions and time needed for the students to share what they wrote.


-to select relevant information while reading Chapter I
-to use a graphic organizer as a strategy to construct meaning
-to write as a means of exploring information found in reading
Pre-reading activity:

1. I will ask the students to write about a time something unfair happened to them. They will be allowed to write about something that happened at home, in school or anywhere they remember such an incident. After five to ten minutes, the students will then read aloud what they wrote with their team.
2. The students will be given ten minutes to share; then I will regroup the class for discussion. Students will share what they learned about someone else in their team. As we are discussing the experiences being shared, I will ask the person who was being treated unfairly to explain how he/she handled the situation, and if the experience occurred again what he/she would do differently. This should lead into a discussion of how difficult it is to respond to a situation rather than react.


1. I will ask the students to share what they think might happen in Sounder based on our previous discussion. They will write down what they surmise in their journals. The students will then be assigned to read as much of the first chapter as possible. As they are reading, they will be searching for information on the main character regarding: description of the character, memorable quotes, strengths, and weaknesses.

As they find the above, they will fill in the Character Chart. (See Appendix B, Sample B.) While the students are filling in their charts, I will be visiting from team to team to ensure further guidance if it is needed and to monitor behaviors.

2. When the teams have come close to completing the chart, I will have the teams designate a recorder/reporter who will be responsible for writing the groups favorite descriptive phrase, memorable quote and best quality. They should realize that there will be more than one favorite and that making accommodations for several perspectives if fine.

3. The reporter of each team will then share the group's consensus. While different team reporters are sharing, a student will be recording, on the chalkboard, each teams responses. Finally, the students will share what commonalties/differences they see from team to team. Their papers will be handed in for a group grade. They will also write what actually happened in their journals after their surmises.

Future Activities:

1. The "Sounder Literature Unit" developed by Mari Lu Robbins would also be utilized. This is available through the Barnes and Noble website at barnesandnoble.com.
2. The students will be shown the video of Sounder and then asked to complete a Comparison/Contrast sheet. The purpose of this will be to help them realize how much better the actual literature is over the movie. The video can be found at your local library or video store in the children's department.
3. A culminating activity for the study of Sounder will be to visit the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The phone number for appointments is (212) 491- 2260 and the website is www.nypl.org/research/sc.

Synopsis of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a true story of a twelve-year-old Japanese girl who gets leukemia, the atom bomb disease and dies. She was two when the US dropped the first atom bomb on Hiroshima, her home town.

At the beginning of the book, Sadako and her family were getting ready to celebrate Peace Day, a memorial for those who died as a result of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima. They ate beans and rice for breakfast and gathered at Oba chan's altar for their daily prayer. Oba chan was Sadako's grandmother who died the day Hiroshima was bombed. As Sadako's father, Mr. Sasaki, was praying he asked for protection from the atom bomb disease.

The best part of Peace Day, to Sadako, was looking at everything there was to buy and the smell of the good food. On the other hand, she did not like seeing the people with the ugly, whitish scars; people who had been burned by the bomb so badly that they did not look human anymore. At the end of Peace Day, Mr. Sasaki lit candles to be placed in six lanterns representing the family members they lost to the atom bomb. The lanterns carried the names of each person and were launched onto the Ohta River.

Sadako belonged to the track team at her school. After she helped her team win the relay race of their final competition, she felt strange and dizzy. Each time she practiced to improve her time so that she could make next year's team, the dizziness returned. Unwilling to accept her dizzy spells as an indication of something serious, she decided not to tell anyone.

Later, when Sadako was running in the school yard, the world began to whirl around her. She fell to the ground. A teacher rushed over to help her, but when she tried to stand, her legs gave way. Mitsue, Sadako's brother, was sent to get his father. Mr. Sasaki took Sadako to the Red Cross Hospital.

As the doctor talked with Sadako's parents, she could hear murmurs. Suddenly, Mrs. Sasaki yelled out the devastating word, leukemia. Sadako immediately covered her ears with her hands. She refused to believe that she had the atom bomb sickness.

The next day, Chizuko, Sadako's friend, was her first visitor at the hospital. She brought a surprise for Sadako. She took out a piece of gold paper, cut it into a square, and folded it over and over until she had made a crane. She told Sadako the old story of the crane that can live for a thousand years, and that if someone makes a thousand paper cranes the gods will grant a wish to the person who makes them. Sadako decided that she would make one thousand paper cranes and ask the gods to make her better.

On her good days she would write letters to her friends in her Bamboo class. She also would do her homework, plays games and sing. But gradually her illness rendered her too weak to do anything except look outside at the tree in the courtyard.

After Sadako folded her six hundred forty-fourth crane, she was too weak to make anymore. However, on her last day, Sadako found great comfort in watching her cranes that hung from the ceiling. An autumn breeze made the birds seem like they were flying. She closed her eyes and never woke up. It was October 25, 1955.

Sadako's classmates folded the remaining cranes to complete one thousand. Her friends later collected the letters and published them in a book called Kokeshi. Three years after her death, a statue of Sadako was unveiled at Hiroshima Peace Park. The money for the statue was raised by young people throughout Japan. In her hand is a golden crane.

The Power of This Book

This book provides another perspective concerning World War II and the use of atomic weaponry. It is a clear illustration that no one ever truly wins at war.

Before the atomic bombs ended the war, Japan had annihilated approximately ten million Chinese alone. But numbers for Malaya, Burma, and Indonesia are not certain. An estimated 100,000 died during the Manila liberation.

Our own troops experienced the ferocity of the Japanese naval task force code-named Kido Butai when they secretly attacked the United States Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor before dawn on December 7, 1941. This action became the catalyst that would eventually lead to the decisions to drop two atomic bombs. One of which affected Sadako, other members of her family and hundreds of thousands of other lives through death, disease, and disfigurement.

Before Japan surrendered both our country and theirs sacrificed the lives of many soldiers; hence, lives on both sides of the hemispheres were deeply affected for years to come. It is my hope that my students realize the futility of war, apprehending the fact that no one wins. Furthermore, that they would see the Japanese culture as different yet equally important with respect to their own.

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Background Information:

Students will be given a brief synopsis of how the United States became involved in World War II as a result of the bombings at Pearl Harbor. Also, they will be informed of the of atomic weaponry made here in the US

Time Duration:

This should take one class period. @$:


-to set a purpose for reading by making predictions
-to select relevant information from the reading that either verifies or nullifies the previous conjectures
-to use a graphic aid as a strategy to construct meaning
-to monitor reading through the organization of ideas
-to view issues of World War II from another perspective
Pre-reading activity:

1. Before reading the book, students will be asked to conjecture what they think the book may be about based upon the illustration on the cover and the title. Students will be asked to write down their answers. When they are done, they will be asked to share their conjectures with the class.

2. Students will then be asked to read the synopsis on the inside jacket of the book and the prologue. When they are done, they will be asked to share how their conjecture matched or didn't match the information gathered from what they read.


1. Students will be given a Conjecture Chart. (See Appendix B, Sample C) They will be asked to look at the title of the first chapter. Then they will fill in their prediction as to what they think the chapter will be about. Students will be encouraged to begin their predictions with I conjecture..., I surmise... or I hypothesize...

2. Within each team, one person will be designated to read aloud the chapter while the others follow along. While the person at each team is reading, he/she will be able to raise his/her hand when no one can figure out how to pronounce a word. I will be visiting from team to team to answer any questions and help aid in the pronunciation of the various Japanese names and words found throughout the chapter.

3. When the person who is designated to read finishes, the entire team will then fill in the box next to the prediction box telling what actually happened in the chapter. This is not to be a team effort. Each team member is to write his own version of what occurs in the chapter.

4. The person previously designated to read aloud to the group will be in charge of notifying me when all of his/her team members have finished filling in the second box.

Those teams who have completed the information for the first chapter will be given instructions to make the next prediction relative to chapter two's title, following through as with chapter one. When most students have finished responding to chapter two, the class will be asked to share aloud one prediction and compare it to what actually happened.

Future Activities:

1. So that the students have a concrete idea of the destructive power of the two atomic bombs and their history, they will be shown the video "Enola Gay." This video can be found at your local library or ordered through the History Channel's History Store at the website http://www.historychannel.com/historychannel/search or by calling 1-800-408-4842 for $24.95.

2. Students will also read newspaper articles and personal testimonies of survivors and observers of the atomic bombings from the Florida International University, College of Education, Department of Subject Specializations, Social Studies Education Program booklet entitled Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Should We Have Dropped the Bombs?-- a global awareness program that allows reproduction for classroom use.

3. As a culminating activity for this book, the classes will make a total of 1,000 origami cranes to be displayed in the media center. This will be our memorial to Sadako. The cranes will be fashioned after the origami bird on page 35 of Origami by Irmgard Kneissler.

Synopsis of The Hiding Place

The Hiding Place is a moving, true story of a Christian family compelled to assist the Jewish people in escaping from Nazi occupied Holland. The co-author, Corrie Ten Boom, her father and her sister Betsy used their home as the main center for the "underground operation" that saved hundreds of lives. They inevitably were caught, along with other members of their family and friends who were part of their elaborate system. Everyone, at their home the day of the raid was sent to a concentration camp for non-Jews; however, Corrie was the sole survivor of those arrested in her family.

At the beginning of the book, the Ten Boom family is celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the family's watch business. Life is as normal as can possibly be. They are receiving flowers from neighbors, customers, friends and family. However, in the not too distant future, everything drastically changes as Nazi policies toward the Jews become increasingly stringent, ultimately leading to the removal of all Jewish people and Hitler's "Final Solution."

One day, the Ten Booms are called upon to help a Jewish baby. On that very same day, the pastor from their church is paying them a social visit. When Corrie and Betsy ask the pastor to take the baby to his home in the countryside, where it is safer, he explains how this child would jeopardize his family's safety. Shortly after his explanation, their father enters the room and looks at the baby, stating that he would consider it an honor to die for the child. In spite of the pastor's objections, he gives his blessing to his daughters to take care of the baby for as long as necessary. Later on, arrangements are made to smuggle the baby out of the country. In essence, this sparks the beginning of the "underground operations."

Shortly after, they begin to coordinate with others who are trying to save the lives of Jews who are in hiding. They have an architect, alias Mr. Smit, come to their home to plan a wall that will create a small room where people can hide. Bricks are smuggled in grandfather clocks and paint is brought in using milk bottles. A telephone is smuggled into the house for emergency use only. A buzzer system is installed in the watch shop (the front portion of the house) as a warning that Nazi soldiers are in, giving the people within the house ample time to get to "the hiding place."

The Ten Booms and their guests periodically practice an escape routine during the times the soldiers are known to check houses. Dinner is a peak period; therefore, many practice drills are scheduled at that time. Sometimes 10-12 people would be hiding in their home, and they would have to make the dinner table appear as though there were only three people eating. If the smallest detail was left to indicate that someone else was there, they could be arrested on suspicion alone.

Finally, the fateful day arrives. Corrie is called upon to help a man who says that his wife was taken and that his only means of getting her back is to bribe a soldier with a good sum of money. He explains that he has heard she has certain contacts who would be able to help. Corrie, heavy with fever, hesitatingly agrees to help him, sensing that something is not quite right.

Later that day, the man comes for the money, but he is not alone. He rings the door bell. Betsy opens the small, viewing window trying to see if anyone else is with him. Her vision is obscured by the narrow perspective the window allows. She is unable to see the Nazi soldiers flanked on either side of the man who has come to get the money promised him. Instinctively, Betsy sounds the buzzer and closes the window, reassuring the man that it will take just one minute to get the money. The soldiers break the door locks, capturing her red-handed with the money. They begin to search the house, hitting the walls with the butts of their guns, trying to find the secret room. One soldier enters Corrie's room demanding that she show them where the Jews are. She begins to reply that she knows nothing. Her words are stopped by a blow. Repeatedly, she is asked questions and repeatedly she is struck.

Everyone who was at the house at the time of the raid is taken to a jail. As they are separating the women from the men, Corrie's father cries out for God to be with them. They respond the same to him. That is the last time Corrie and Betsy see their father. Later, he dies in a hospital hall because there were no available beds. Unaware of his death, no one claims his body; he is buried with numerous unidentified bodies in a general grave.

At one point, Corrie is called in for interrogation. After the interrogation, she is informed of the circumstances surrounding her father's death. Also, she receives a letter with a code written underneath the stamp saying that all the "watches" are safe. Every Jew that was in hiding during the raid was successfully delivered to a safe place.

Corrie and Betsy are later transferred to Ravensbruck concentration camp and find that living there is unbearable. Nevertheless, they are able to find comfort in a bible they miraculously smuggle in. Amazingly, they find their true faith in what they describe as the deepest, darkest pit. They bring their faith and hope to the other women of the camp, even to the outcasts within the camp, the prostitutes.

Betsy, who had poor health to begin with, becomes critically ill and is finally allowed to enter the hospital. Since Corrie is restricted from entering the hospital, she visits Betsy everyday by looking through the window across from her bed. They gesture to one another as a means of communication.

Finally, Corrie goes to visit her sister and finds her bed is empty. She sneaks into the hospital and is able to locate her sister's body. She is overwhelmed by how beautiful Betsy looks.

Some time later, Corrie's number is called and she is told to report to the office. There she is asked to sign documents stating that she was treated well during her stay at Ravensbruck. She is given her personal belongings that were taken from her and clean clothing. The gates are opened and she is allowed to walk away a free woman.

Later she finds out that she was released on a clerical error and that the women her age (52) and older were murdered the day after she was set free. Corrie then traveled to sixty plus countries giving speeches about the greatness of God's love in a place where it seemed impossible to find. Her message was that no pit is too deep that He is not deeper still.

The Power of This Book

One of the great beauties of this book is the honoring manner with which the Ten Booms treated their Jewish guests. They honored the religious beliefs they brought with them, accepting them as human beings who brought wonderful traditions of Judaism into their home. By the same token, those who sought refuge in their home honored their Christianity as well. This is a great example to all.

Also, this book lends itself to teaching about the atrocities suffered by the Jewish people during the Holocaust. This is something that must never be forgotten so that it will not be repeated (The student population I work with has no contact with the Jewish race and is greatly uniformed about the Holocaust).

Furthermore, what greater example of humanity is there than one laying down his life so that another can live. There are many exemplary themes that run throughout the entire book because of the inherent subject matter. I have mentioned only the obvious.

I would hope that my students leave this book with an understanding of how powerful hatred can be and that it should not be taken lightly. Also, that people with a culture different from themselves should not arouse feelings fear and suspicion, but an acceptance of something that can enrich their lives.

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Time Duration:

This may require three class sessions, depending on the how well the classes can take notes and the amount of time used for spontaneous discussions that come from the students.


-to write as a means of exploring information
-to view issues of World War II from another perspective
-to set a purpose for reading

*This lesson purposes as both the background information and the pre-reading activity that will help prepare the students for reading The Hiding Place.

1. The students will be given The Holocaust sheet. (See Appendix B, Sample D.) They will be given 10-15 minutes to fill in everything they know about the Holocaust of World War II in the section titled, "What I know..."

2. They will be informed that they are about to view a video that has actual footage of the Holocaust phenomenon, and that they are to write any important information they learn in the section titled, "What I learned..."

4. They will then view the video, "The Rise and Fall of Hitler." I will periodically stop the video to clarify things that are said or subscripts that are difficult to catch. At these intervals, the students will be given time to write what they are learning. Also, this time will be used for discussion. When they have completed the viewing of "The Rise and Fall of Hitler," each student will share, with the class, one new fact he/she written.

Future Activities:

1. They will also view the video, "The Criminal," that is part of the same 6 tape series on Hitler. These can be checked out at your local library or ordered for $99.95 from the History Channel's History Store at the same website and number listed previously.

2. When they are done reading the book, they will be shown the video "The Hiding Place," and once again fill in a Comparison/Contrast sheet in hopes that they realize how much better the actual literary piece is over the movie.

3. A culminating activity for this book will be to go to the Jewish Museum in New York City. The number is (212)-423-3200 and the website is webmaster jtsa.edu. Also, to have a Holocaust survivor visit our school to share his/her experience. This will require further research by calling local synagogues.

Synopsis of Poems Across the Pavement

Poems Across the Pavement is a collection of non-fiction poetry written by Luis J. Rodriguez. Rodriquez grew up in Watts, LA. He was involved in gang activity, but would sneak away to the library to read poetry.

His book, Poems Across the Pavement, contains moving vignettes of his life and his observations of the lives of others. He worked as a journalist and was inspired to also write poetry about the struggles and conflicts he reported on.

One of my favorite poems is "Race Politics." This poem tells a story about Luis Rodriguez when he was six and his older brother was nine. They had decided to get the "good food" from the white section of Watts. They dared each other and decided that they were men who could go where ever they wanted. So off they went, two Mexican boys, crossing the tracks that divided the white and Mexican sections.

On their way back, they were jumped by five teenage boys on bikes. One held Luis down on the hot asphalt while the others beat his brother until he vomited. The reason why they were attacked was simply because they were Mexican Americans who were on the wrong side of the tracks. That day Luis' brother made him swear not to tell how he had cried.

The Power of This Book

I had never been interested in poetry until I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Rodriguez read poetry from this book to my fourth-grade class at Eugene Field Elementary in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That changed my attitude completely about poetry. What was even more amazing to me was the reaction of the students. These inner-city kids were mesmerized, asking for another reading as soon as Mr. Rodriguez finished a poem. I had never seen that kind of reaction from younger students toward serious poetry.

The majority of Eugene Field's population, at that time, was Mexican-American. The African-Americans made-up approximately 25% of the student population with a small percentage of Anglo children. Luis J. Rodriguez is Mexican-American, notwithstanding, he had a broad appeal that reached everyone in the school because he had experienced what many of them had, living where they did.

In much of his poetry, he uses Spanish words and phrases. At Roberto Clemente there is a high Latino population. I believe that these students will feel a sense of validation by experiencing Rodriguez' poetry. Maybe one of them will become inspired to be a poet. By the same token, the African-American students may be inspired as well to write poetry about experiences they have had that are similar to the author's.

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Background Information:

The students will be informed that the author grew-up in Watts, LA, and was involved in gang activity there. Also, that Rodriquez would secretly go to the library to read poetry and that his poetry tells different stories about his life and the lives of others her observed.

Time Duration:

This should take one class period.

-to select relevant information from the readings
-to write as a means of exploring information found in reading
-to understand poetry, form and stanza

1. I will ask the students to write the following three words: poetry, form and stanza. I will then ask them to think of a definition for each word. They will be given 5 minutes to do so. When they are done, they will be asked to share with the class. When there is a definition or a combination of definitions the entire class can agree on, all the students will then write the collective definition created by the class. (I will provide hints to guide them.)

2. The students will then listen to Luis J. Rodriguez' "Race Politics" read aloud by me. After listening to the poem, they will be asked to write in their journals, "The most interesting part to me was..." They will finish the sentence and explain why. Then they will describe the stanzas and form of the poem based on their notes. When the class if finished, they will be asked to share the what each thought was the most interesting part and why. After the discussion, I will pick up their papers to check their understanding of the stanzas and form of the poem.

Future Activities:

1. The students will be introduced to similes and metaphors so that they may write poetry of their own, using imagery. They will write a non-fiction poem about a personal experience.

2. The students will explore other non-fiction poems found in Children of Promise: African-American Literature and Art for Young People. This is available at your local library.

3. A culminating activity for this book will be to visit El Museo del Barrio in New York City. The phone number is (212)-831-7272 and the website is www.elmuseo.org.

4. I would like to have the students present a poetry reading to other classes in our building if possible.

1 The Holocaust in Perspective, p. 30

2 Ibid., p. 33

3 Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust, p. 6

4 Ibid., p. 8

5 The Skinhead International: The Skinhead Scene (See website resources.)

6 The Skinhead International: The United States (See website resources.)

7 Ibid.

8 Genocide in Rwanda (See website resources.)

9 International Harold Tribune p. 8, August 9,1995

10 Pearl Harbor!: December 7, 1941, The Road to Japanese Aggression in the Pacific, p. 68

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Appendix A



Circle the letter of the correct answer.
1. Prejudice is:

a. liking someone without knowing much about that person
b. treating a person differently because of a group he/she belongs to
c. a dislike toward someone without knowing much about that person
d. none of the above
2. Prejudice only occurs between the following people:

a. African-Americans and Hispanics
b. Asian people and Jewish people
c. Anglo people and African-Americans and Hispanics
d. none of the above
3. Discrimination is:

a. separation of boys and girls in a school
b. treating a person differently because of a group he/she belongs to
c. a feeling of kindness towards others
d. disliking someone without knowing much about a person
4. Segregation is:

a. the practice of racial separation
b. separation of boys and girls in a class
c. civil rights
d. only occurs between some races
5. Civil Rights are:

a. the practice of racial separation
b. rights to freedom and equality
c. giving rights to some people
d. the behaviors and beliefs of a group
6. Culture is:

a. the behaviors and beliefs of a group of people
b. rights to freedom and equality
c. living in a developed country
d. none of the above
7. Only certain people have culture:

a. true
b. false
8. Courage and bravery are found in:

a. some cultures
b. my culture
c. all cultures
d. none of the above
9. Some cultures are more important than other cultures:

a. true
b. false
10. My culture if the best in the world:

a. true
b. false
11. All cultures are equally important:

a. true
b. false
12. Anti-semitism is:

a. being against semitists
b. the behaviors and beliefs of a group of people
c. racial separation
d. discrimination against Jewish people
13. Hitler was:

a. a great leader who cared for everyone
b. a leader who had millions of Jews killed
c. a leader from Japan
d. a leader who was not a Nazi
14. A concentration camp is:

a. a vacation camp
b. a mountain camp in Switzerland
c. a guarded camp for prisoners
d. a guarded camp for scientists
15. The Nazis believed in:

a. equality for all
b. freedom for all
c. freedom and equality for all
d. freedom and equality for some
16. The first atomic bomb was built in:

a. Germany
b. Japan
c. the United States
d. the former Soviet Union
17. The plane that dropped the first atomic bomb was the:

a. Enola Gay
b. Striker
c. B-52
d. none of the above
18. Fat Man and Thin Boy are:

a. rap stars
b. men in the Guinness Book of World Records
c. very thick and thin sandwiches
d. none of the above
19. There were 3 atomic bombs dropped in Japan

a. true
b. false
20. Pearl Harbor is located in

a. California
b. Connecticut
c. Hawaii
d. Washington
21. Nagasaki and Hiroshima are in

a. China
b. Taiwan
c. Japan
d. Singapore
22. Match the following:

Sadako Sasaki a. wrote poetry
Corrie Ten Boom b. wrote a true story
Luis J. Rodriguez c. died of leukemia

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Appendix B



Description of the Character

Memorable Quotes




Chapter Title What I ConjectureWhat Happened Was

What I know is...What I learned was...

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Annotated Bibliography

Note: All reference material applies to both the teacher and the students except for The Holocaust in Historical Perspectives. This is a resource for teachers.

Abell, Chana Byers. The Children We Remember. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1986. This book tells a brief story about children who lived and died during the Holocaust. It is written for early readers; however, it transcends age.

Armstrong, William Howard. Sounder. 1989. A story of triumph in the midst of tragedy. A young, African-American boy realizes his dream to read in an era that provided few opportunities to do so.

Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust. New York: Little, Brown, 1994. This book uses the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums artifacts, photographs, maps, and taped oral and video histories to tell the story of the Holocaust.

Bauer, Yehuda. The Holocaust in Perspective. United States: Univ. of Washington, 1978. A series of essays evaluating the writings of historians and pseudohistorians who have attempted to deny or explain the Holocaust.

Coerr, Eleanor. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1977. A true story of a Japanese girl who dies of leukemia because of exposure to the atom bomb dropped in Hiroshima. (Chapter book)

____________. Ibid. (Young children's version)

Fisch, Robert O. Light From the Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota, 1994. A moving narrative of the author's experience in a concentration camp and the loss of his father and other relatives who were victims of the Nazi occupation in Budapest.

Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Girl. New York: Double Day & Co. Inc., 1967. The actual diary, recording approximately two years of Anne's life while her family was in hiding.

Goldston, Robert. Pearl Harbor!: December 7, 1941, The Road to Japanese Aggression in the Pacific. New York: Franklin Watts, 1972. A telling of the historical events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack, our counter attacks, and finally Japan's surrender.

Greenfield, Howard. The Hidden Children. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1993. A remarkable book that includes actual accounts of Jewish men and women who were hidden during the Holocaust.

Hurwitz, Johanna. Anne Frank: Life in Hiding. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1988. A biography of Anne Frank's life from her thirteenth birthday to the publication of her book.

Jennings, Jerry E. and Margaret Fisher Hertel. Inquiring About Freedom: Civil Rights and the Individual Responsibility. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fiddles Co., 1975. A historical perspective covering the struggle for women's rights to vote, the rights of Native Americans and other minorities through the civil rights movement.

Kallen, Stuart A. The Holocaust: The Faces of Resistance. Minneapolis: Abdo & Daughters, 1994. Moving accounts of how people who helped Jews during the Holocaust.

_____________. The Holocaust: The Nazis Seize Power. Minneapolis: Abdo & Daughters, 1994. A brief history of the development of anti-Semitism, Hitler's origins and the eventual development of the "Final Solution."

Kneissler, Irmgard. Origami. Chicago: Children's Press, 1992. A step by step book of origami.
Mckissack, Patricia and Frederick. A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter. New York: Walker & Co. 1989. The story of how the porters on the Pullman luxury sleeping cars created the first legitimate black union to win better working conditions.

Rodriguez, Luis J. Poems Across the Pavement. Chicago: Tia Chucha Press, 1991. Non-fiction poetry about the struggles of the author's life and those he observed.

Sullivan, Charles. Children of Promise: African American Literature and Art for Young People. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1991. This book combines, poetry, prose, letters articles and art to tell the history and story of the African American struggle.

Ten Boom, Corrie, John L. and Elizabeth Sherrill. The Hiding Place. New York: Bantam Books, 1997. An inspiring, true story of the Ten Boom family's "underground operation" that helped 100's of Jews escape to freedom. Corrie was the sole survivor of her family who was arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Tsuchiya, Yukio, Translated by Tomoko Tsuchiya Dykes. Faithful Elephants. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1988. A true story of three elephants that lived in the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo during World War II. They had to be starved to death because it was feared that the animals in the zoo would be dangerous if a bomb dropped, destroyed the cages, and set them free to roam the streets of Tokyo.

Tucker, Dr. Jan L. Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Should We Have Dropped the Bombs? Miami Florida International University, the College of Education, Department of Subject Specializations, Social Studies Education Program. (No date). Dr. Tucker has gathered newspaper articles and personal testimonies about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings that may be reproduced for classroom use.

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Website Resources

Barnes and Noble- barnesandnoble.com

El Museo del Barrio- www.el.museo.org

Genocide in Rwanda- www.idt.unit.no/~isfit/speeches.html

Guidelines for Teaching About the Holocaust- www.ushnam.org

History Channel's History Store- historychannel.com/historychannel/search

The Jewish Museum in New York City- webmasterjtsa.edu

Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City- hypl.org/research/sc

Ravensbruck Memorial Museum- www.dhm.de/ausstellungen/ns_gedenk/e/d_19.htm

The Skinhead International: The Skinhead Scene- webmasternizkor.org

The Skinhead International: The United States- webmasternizkor.org

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