Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Random Shelf: Easy Chapter Book

For the child that needs to stay in the easy chapter book section for a while, finding suitable books can be a challenge. You don't want to insult his/her intelligence or maturity with books that are written with the maturity of younger children in mind. That's why it's such a find to "discover" books like The Night Crossing.

Not only is The Night Crossing a good choice for older struggling readers, it's also a fine choice for a child that is interested in reading about "sensitive" historical events such as the Holocaust. Interest in reading about the Holocaust is very common among children....nothing to get alarmed about. However, there are definitely different levels of sensitivity and maturity even among the books in the children's collection. The most famous book on the Holocaust for young readers is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, but most young girls are probably not ready for her diary until at least fifth grade, when they can identify with Anne's journal entries on emerging maturity.

In The Night Crossing, we meet Clara. Clara is a young Jewish girl living in Austria. 1938 is the beginning of the terror for Austria's Jewish population, and her family must escape before it's too late. An encounter with a soldier nearly spells their doom, but they luckily make it to safety.

This is a gentle introduction to the Holocaust-there is no mention of concentration camps or anything near that level. This very short chapter book (56 pages) is a solid introduction to the Nazi regime in 1930s Europe. For children not quite ready to read Number the Stars or The Devil in Vienna, The Night Crossing should be a first choice.

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