Building Perspective: Understanding History through Fiction

Shannon McFarland, Language Arts, Cochrane Collegiate Academy

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This unit examines the circumstances and choices of the main character of the novel The Book Thief. Students will analyze the connection between historical events and a fictional representation of them. Students will come to a better understanding of the causes behind historical events by examining the emotions and reactions of fictional characters depicted during this time.  They will trace the development of themes as they progress through the novel. Students will read primary documents such as newspapers, firsthand accounts, and political cartoons to understand the social climate of Germany during World War II. Students will analyze the point of view of both German citizens and German Jews as they learn about the Holocaust. Finally, students will write an essay determining whether the main character of the novel The Book Thief is a victim, offender, or witness of the events of the story.