Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Bibliographic Information:

Lowry, Lois (1989). Number the stars. New York: Laurel-Leaf Books.

Plot Description: Ten year old Annemarie’s world is changing. The Nazis have taken over Denmark and German soldiers are posted on every street corner. Electricity is rationed, there is no more butter or sugar for cupcakes and the whole city has a curfew. However, these inconveniences turn to something much more dangerous as the Nazis start ‘relocating’ Jewish people. Annemarie’s best friend Ellen and her family are Jewish. How can they escape? Ellen comes to stay with Annemarie and pretends to be a part of her family in order to hide from the Nazis, while her parents go to an unknown location. Annemarie overhears talk of ‘fishing weather’ that makes no sense and soon her family and Ellen are off to stay with Uncle Henrik by the sea. It is there that Annemarie learns the meaning of the strange conversation she overheard and must gather all her courage when she becomes the only one who can stop the Nazis from discovering her friends as they attempt to escape.

Quantitative Reading Level : Lexile Measure: 670L, ATOS Book Level: 4.5, Interest Level: Middle Grades (4-8), Recommended Reading-California Recommended Lit. English Grade 3-5

Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story is told in third person limited, from Annemarie’s perspective. She is a child, so does not have all the information. So the reader must try to understand events without all the facts, just as Annemarie does. Some meanings are stated, while others are left for the reader to discover. There is limited figurative language, with nature used as a metaphor. Organization is conventional and mostly sequential, with a few flashbacks. Register is casual and language is familiar. Sentences are mostly simple and compound, with some complex construction. There is distance between the experiences in the text and those of the reader, as not many will have had to be brave to save lives, but many will be able to connect with the idea of being brave to help those you love. Some background knowledge about World War II would be useful, but is not necessary for understanding, as the text explains the circumstances as well as a ten year old girl can understand them.

Content Area: Reading, History (World History-World War II)

Content Area Standard: History-Social Science Standards for CA: Grades 6-8

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills

Research, Evidence, and Point of View

  1. Students frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research.
  2. Students distinguish fact from opinion in historical narratives and stories.
  3. Students distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, essential from incidental information, and verifiable from unverifiable information in historical narratives and stories.
  4. Students assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources and draw sound con­clusions from them.

English Language Arts Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2 Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.6 Describe how a narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described.

Curriculum Suggestions: Students define bravery and write about their own experiences of courage. Discuss point of view and the author’s choice of a young girl who does not have all the facts, as the narrator. Research the Danish resistance movement during World War II. Keep track of the code phrases used by characters helping the Jews escape and give the real meaning of the phrase. Keep track of metaphors and symbols in the novel and discuss how they aid in the readers understanding of the story. Discuss story telling elements such as rising action, climax and falling action.

Supporting Digital Content: 

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/number-stars-extension-activity

http://www.glencoe.com/sec/literature/litlibrary/pdf/number_the_stars.pdf

http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/activity/35plan/number1.htm

Awards: Newbery Medal, Jane Addams Book Award, Sydney Taylor Award, ALA Notable/Best Books

Character names/descriptions: Annemarie-A 10 year old girl living in occupied Denmark during World War II and her best friend Ellen, who is Jewish.

Personal Thoughts: I remember reading this book as a child and loving it. I thought Annemarie was so brave. I think seeing the events through the eyes of someone around their age will help students connect with the story and get them interested in World War II history.

High interest annotation: Annemarie must go on a dangerous journey to help save her friend from the Nazis.

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