Literature Lesson Plans: Introducing "Number the Stars"

By Keren Perles

Looking for a way to introduce "Number the Stars," by Lois Lowry? This "Number the Stars" lesson plan gives students the background that they need to understand the novel.

These literature activities introduce students to the concepts covered in "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry: Hitler, Nazism, World War II and the theme of resistance.

Historical Context

Before students begin reading the book, it is important to ensure that they understand the historical context. Begin by asking students questions to see what their level of knowledge is about World War II and the Holocaust. Ask them to identify key figures and terms, such as

· Adolf Hitler

· Nazism

· Resistance

· Swastika

· Holocaust

Make sure they understand that although Hitler initially ruled only Germany, his hand eventually reached many other countries in Europe. Also make sure that they can identify the various groups that the Nazis targeted (Jews, gypsies, Armenians, physically disabled). Include some general information on Denmark, Sweden, and King Christian’s reaction to the Nazi threat.

Connecting to the Book

Ask students to discuss what it would be like to go through World War II as someone who was not directly persecuted, but who did not support the Nazis. Would they join the Resistance? Why or why not? Encourage students to discuss the bravery that it would require to take such a step. Why might some people choose not to join the Resistance? Are they wrong to make that choice? These questions will encourage students to appreciate the sacrifice that Annemarie and her family make throughout the book, as well as the sacrifice of the king and the people of Denmark in particular.

Preview the Book

Look at the title of the book and discuss what you think it might mean. Take a look at the picture on the cover of the book, and try to predict what it is showing. Then have students look through the chapter titles in the table of contents. Break them into pairs or small groups, and have them write a sentence or two predicting what each chapter will be about. (After they have finished reading the book, have them return to this activity and see how many were correct.)