Number the Stars

Grade Level: 3 through 5

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Number the Stars cover Book Review:

This review by Carol Otis Hurst first appeared in Teaching K-8 Magazine.

This was the first Newbery Award winner by Lois Lowry. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of reading this very accessible novel within easy reach of fourth or even third grade readers, it's the story of the determination of the people of Denmark to get the Jews to safety while the Nazis were equally determined to annihilate them.

Lowry focuses our attention on the Johansen family who have coped with the occupation by the Nazis fairly well. There are the shortages of course and the omnipresent soldiers, but home and school life are relatively undisturbed.

Then, their friends, the Rosens, are endangered. Mr. and Mrs. Rosen leave their daughter, Ellen, with the Johansens hoping that she can pass as their daughter until safe voyage to Sweden can be arranged for all the Rosens. Ann Marie Johansen is the one who is most threatened by this ordeal and she shows outstanding but believable courage and enterprise in helping her friend.

No matter which of the activities below you select or the equally good ones you come up with yourselves, the important thing is to enjoy the book and Lowry's skill in creating such memorable characters.


Activities: Resources:

The list of books set in that time period is a long one and becomes longer every day as more and more authors choose it for a setting fraught with drama and you could easily find a different novel of World War II for every person in the classroom. If each one also reads a non-fiction book about the time and interviews a person who experienced it in some way, they will have a fairly defined context into which to put their novel.

Other non-fiction books which may extend the novel are:

Turning to other novels:

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Strong Females:

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This document is from Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site. Logo copyright 1995. Text copyright 1995, 1996, Carol Hurst and Rebecca Otis. This document may be distributed freely for non-commercial purposes as long as this copyright information and reference information is retained. For more information email

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A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
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College of Education, University of South Florida © 1997-2013.

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