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Number the Stars

by Lois Lowry

The Book Club Novel Guide outlines a complete theme-based unit with Book Club lesson plans focusing on Number the Stars.

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Below you will find a synopsis, further reading materials, discussion topics, and reviews that you might find useful during your teaching of Number the Stars.

A Synopsis

Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen lives in Copenhagen in 1943, during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. She and her best friend, Ellen Rosen, have encountered the German soldiers patrolling the streets and have experienced the shortages imposed by the war but do not yet realize the threat to their safety that the Nazis pose.

Their innocence is shattered when a button shop owned by a Jewish woman is closed and the Nazis seize lists of Jewish residents from the city’s synagogues. The Johansens know that they must help the Rosens escape before it is too late. Ellen’s parents are taken to safety by Peter Neilsen, once the fiancé of Annemarie’s dead sister Lise, and Ellen comes to spend the night at the Johansens’ apartment. The family’s worst fears come true when German soldiers pound on the door in the middle of the night. Thinking quickly, Annemarie tears off her friend’s Star of David necklace, and Ellen tells the soldiers that she is Lise. The soldiers demand to know why the fair-haired Johansens have a brunette daughter, and Mr. Johansen convinces them with baby photos of Lise, who was born with dark hair.

The next day Mrs. Johansen takes Annemarie, Ellen, and her youngest daughter Kirsti to visit her brother Henrik, a fisherman who lives on the coast. Annemarie knows that this is more than a vacation, but she has a hard time figuring out the strange code her parents and uncle are speaking. They talk about transporting cigarettes and having “good days for fishing.” Most puzzling of all, they tell her that there is to be a funeral for her Great-aunt Birte, a relative she has never heard of and is certain doesn’t exist.

Annemarie eventually learns that her parents, Uncle Henrik, and Peter Neilsen are part of the Resistance movement. They are helping Danish Jews like the Rosens escape across the sea to Sweden. The funeral is really a gathering of Jewish people who will be smuggled out of the country in Uncle Henrik’s fishing boat. With the brave help of Annemarie, the escape of the Rosens and the other people is successful.

Themes

A major theme in Number the Stars is bravery, especially the bravery of "ordinary" people. Annemarie does not think of herself as brave, but she learns from her uncle that being frightened does not mean that one is not brave. Instead, bravery means somehow ignoring the dangers of a situation, often because one does not fully understand them. Bravery also means being determined to do what is right, even when it is dangerous to do so.

Other themes in the book include pride and friendship. Annemarie's father remarks that King Christian X must have been very proud (as well as sad) on the day Denmark sank its own naval fleet to avoid having the Nazis take it over. Annemarie recognizes that the Rosens and the other Jews at Great-aunt Birte's funeral have a source of pride within themselves that shines through the ragged clothing they must wear to keep warm during their escape. Her close friendship with Ellen is symbolized in her desire to wear Ellen's Star of David necklace until her friend is able to return home at the war's end.

Further Reading and Links

The following books and sites can be used to support and enrich the Book Club unit for Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.

Special Classroom Library

  • Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary by Ruud van der Rol
  • Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries by Laurel Holliday
  • The Hidden Children by Howard Greenfeld
  • I Am an American: A True Story of Japanese Internment by Jerry Stanley
  • Journey Home by Yoshiko Uchida
  • Rescue: The Story of How Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust by Milton Meltzer
  • We Remember the Holocaust by David Adler

Meet the Author and Read Reviews

  • Lois Lowry — This is the author's official website. It includes a biography, speeches, videos, and other fun things, including a part about Number the Stars.
  • Learning About Lois Lowry — This page has a photo of the author and a brief biography plus a list of her published titles. It also includes reviews of some of her books including Number the Stars and The Giver.
  • Pennsylvania Center for the Book! — This site provides another biography of Lois Lowry.
  • Lois Lowry: The Internet Public Library — In this profile, Lois Lowry shares details about her life and answers several questions from her readers. Visitors to this site will learn about her writing process and her thoughts on some of her most popular titles.
  • Lois Lowry Interview Transcript — This site presents an interview between the author and the Scholastic's Online Reading Club.
  • Common Sense Media — This review of the book gives it 5 out of 5 stars. You can read details and user reviews about the book.

Learn More about the Historical Context and Setting of the Novel

  • Military History of Denmark — This site offers a comprehensive view of what happened to and in Denmark during World War II. Factual details of every phase of the war as it pertained to Denmark are provided, and the history is brought to life with clear and interesting photographs. The segment entitled "The German Occupation of Denmark 1940–45" is particularly gripping and dramatic.
  • Timeline of the Holocaust — This College of Education at the University of South Florida site is easy to access for all sorts of information about not only the Holocaust, but also the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, as well as other aspects of the Jewish experience during World War II.
  • Denmark — Details of the culture, attractions, and history of Denmark are offered to the visitor, as well as a map showing the proximity of Denmark to Sweden.
  • Copenhagen Pictures — The visitor to this site can see the town hall, the Little Mermaid statue, Tivoli Garden, Frederiksborg Castle, and the harbor. Many links to other Copenhagen sites are included.
  • The Anne Frank Center USA — A good site for information about Anne Frank.
  • Anne Frank — This site offers plenty information, photos, and a walk through the Secret Annex.
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — This site has special online exhibits and other information about the museum located in Washington, D.C.
  • Yad Vashem — Yad Vashem is "a monument of a nation's grief." This site points to the Historical Museum and allows visitors to view artifacts such as a Danish rescue boat and to see the trees planted in honor of the Righteous Among the Nations.
  • A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust — This site from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology has materials in these categories: timeline, people, the arts, student activities, and teacher resources. It has an excellent list of related websites.

Explore the Danish Resistance Movement and Rescue of the Jews

  • Rescue of the Jews from Annihilation — This background on the war, Hitler, and the consequences for Denmark leads into a complete account of the Danish rescue of the Jews.
  • Rescue in Denmark — At this site, articles, maps, and photographs tell the story of the Danish rescue. The website also offers some information of Denmark's resistance.
  • The Left Handshake — Hilary St. George Saunders wrote this account in 1948 of how the Scouts were involved in resistance movements all over occupied countries. The descriptions of Scouts' actions in Denmark are thrilling and vivid and introduce the visitor to another dimension of the war experience.

Find Out More about Historical Figures and Symbols in the Novel

  • King Christian X — A brief biography, which includes a look at King Christian's contributions to the Danish monarchy, is given here with a photograph of the King and his sons.
  • Photographs of King Christian X — Visitors to this site can see King Christian X seated on his horse and appearing much as he must have to the residents of Copenhagen.
  • Jewish Student Online Research Center — At this site, much can be learned about Jewish traditions and culture, including the history of the Star of David.
  • Tivoli Gardens — The description of the attractions of Tivoli Gardens year round are accompanied by photographs, which show the reason it occupies a special place in the hearts of the Danish.
  • History of Paper Dolls — Many interesting facts inform the visitor to this site of the history and value of the paper doll from its origin to the present.

Big Theme Questions

In what kinds of circumstances do ordinary people find themselves doing extraordinary things to help others?

What kinds of courage are there? How would you define courage in your own life?

What is personal freedom, and why is it important in your life? Why is it essential to protect the freedom of others even if your own is not threatened?

Outline of Lesson Plan | Curriculum Area | Lesson Focus

To purchase any materials mentioned please visit our store. The Lesson Plan assumes a basic knowledge of the Book Club program, as outlined in Book Club: A Literature-Based Curriculum. It provides the background information and support (including blackline masters) to help you get the most from Book Club. You find the complete Lesson Plan for Number the Stars in the Book Club Novel Guide. The Lesson Plan includes blackline masters for the students that support the discussion topics.

The discussion topics and questions provided are meant as suggestions only. As students become more comfortable with the Book Club format, they will certainly have ideas and questions that go beyond the ones written here. Consider giving students “free choice” as a log option. Book Club Reading Logs help students respond to literature and organize ideas as they participate in Book Club.


Lesson 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16


LESSON 1
Comprehension: Building Background—WWII


GOAL: To build background for the story, including history and geography

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 1

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Why is Kirsti not afraid of the soldiers? How would you feel about having to go without simple things such as butter, sugar, and tea? Think of instances when you've had to go without something. How did that make you feel? What would you have done in Annemarie's place when the soldiers stopped them? Have you ever been in a similar situation?


Before students begin reading, show them a map of Europe and have them locate Denmark, where Number the Stars takes place. Use a site such as Google Maps.

Tap students' prior knowledge about World War II and provide any additional information they'll need to understand the story. They don't need a comprehensive understanding of the war to read the book, but they should know when it took place and the role of Hitler and the Nazis. Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany in the 1930s. He founded the National Socialist German Workers party, also known as the Nazi party. Members of the Nazi party believed that the German people were superior to all other races, and that the German nation was destined to rule all of Europe. Nazis were also strongly anti-Semitic, meaning that they hated Jewish people.

As Hitler gained power, he began to build up Germany's armed forces. In the late 1930s, Germany began invading and taking over its European neighbors. In 1938, Germany took control of Austria and Czechoslovakia, followed by Poland (1939); Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary (1940); Yugoslavia and Greece (1941). Hitler's forces invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, a move that would finally turn the tide of the war against him when the advance was halted in 1942-43. By early 1945 the Allies (including the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union) invaded Germany. Hitler killed himself in April, and Germany surrendered in early May 1945. At the end of the war, between 15 and 20 million soldiers and 25 million civilians had died. Civilian deaths included 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps.

You may also wish to point out that Number the Stars is an example of historical fiction. This means that the main characters were invented by the author, but that the historical context (WWII) and political figures such as King Christian X are real. Lois Lowry's Afterword gives more information about which parts of the story are fictional and which are real.

Have students read Chapter 1 and write in their reading logs. They may write responses to the Writing Prompt questions, or they may write about whatever they think is most interesting in the chapter. They may also write down questions that they'd like to ask their classmates or you. Students should then meet with their book clubs and discuss their responses.

During community share, ask students to share the most interesting points that came up in their book club discussions. If they have any questions that remain unanswered, invite them to pose these questions to the entire class.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 2
Language Conventions: Qualities of a Good Book Club Discussion


GOAL: To review the behaviors that contribute to good small-group discussions

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 2

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Do you think King Christian did the right thing when he surrendered to the Nazis? Why? Would you be willing to die to protect the leader of your country? Why? Compare and contrast the following: Annemarie's family before and after Lise died; Peter before and after Lise's death.


Discuss with students the behaviors that contribute to a good book club discussion. Ask them to recall some of their past experiences in book clubs and other discussion groups and to think about what made the experiences good or bad. On chart paper, create a two-column chart with the headings "Qualities of a good group" and "Qualities to avoid in groups." Have students brainstorm items to add to the chart. (Note: Guidelines for successful book club discussions are outlined in Book Club: A Literature-Based Curriculum.) Suggest that students keep these positive behaviors in mind when they meet with their book clubs today. Keep the chart posted in the classroom so that students can refer back to it.

Comparing and contrasting is a response type that students can use at any time in their reading logs. Make sure students understand that comparing means showing how two things are alike, and that contrasting means showing how they are different. If you want to emphasize this skill, tell students that they should respond to the third Writing Prompt question, which asks them to compare and contrast. Then, during community share, ask the class to discuss what they learned about Annemarie's family by comparing and contrasting.

Because good small-group discussions are so central to the success of Book Club, you'll probably want to make a special effort to monitor and assess students' progress in this area. Some Book Club teachers use a tape recorder to record individual book clubs so that they can listen to the groups at a later time. (You can rotate the tape recorder between groups over a two- or three-day period.) Use of the tape recorder also puts a little added pressure on students to participate, which tends to promote better conversations.

Note: If your class is new to Book Club, you may want to devote part of this day's lesson to discussing the different kinds of responses that they can write in their reading logs. The Writing Prompt for each lesson also provides ideas for students' written responses.

After students have read Chapter 2, written in their logs, and met with their book club groups, bring the class together for community share. Discuss the issues that came up in students' book clubs and also how well their discussions met the criteria that the class outlined earlier. At some point, you may wish to have students write assessments of their book club performance, giving themselves and their groups letter grades and explaining why they earned those grades.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 3
Literary Elements: Suspense; Characters


GOAL: To consider how an author creates a feeling of suspense in a reader's mind; to analyze characters in the story

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 3

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Predict what you think will happen next in the story. Make a character map for Peter or another character in the story. What details would you use to describe this character? Annemarie believes that ordinary people like her don't have to be courageous. Do you agree? Why?


Ask students what suspense means. Make sure they understand that suspense is a feeling of anticipation, of wondering what will happen next. Suspense can be fun and exciting, or it can be spooky or frightening. This feeling of suspense is what makes readers keep turning pages—they are eager to know what will happen next in the story. Writers create suspense by hinting that something important is going to happen while not revealing exactly what it is. Suggest that as students read Chapter 3, they stay alert to their own feelings of suspense. What questions does the author raise in their minds? Are they excited to find the answers to these questions?

If necessary, review with students what a character map is. Remind them that when they create a character map, they can record facts from the book as well as their own ideas and feelings about the character.

During community share, ask any students who made character maps for Peter to share what they wrote about him. Peter is a rather mysterious character, and the author reveals only small bits of information about him at a time. Ask students whether they have a feeling of suspense about Peter. What would they like to know about him?

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 4
Literary Elements: Chapter Titles


GOAL: To focus students' attention on chapter titles; to analyze relationships between characters

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 4

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Why is this chapter called "It Will Be a Long Night"? What do you predict might happen in the night? What do you think of Annemarie's relationship with her little sister Kirsti? Is it realistic? Why? Which details in Chapters 1-4 are historical facts? Which details are fictional, or made up by the author?


Before students begin reading, ask them to think about the titles of the chapters they have read so far. Where did the titles come from? Why did the author choose those particular quotations for chapter titles? Do the chapter titles create suspense in students' minds before they begin a chapter? Then ask students to predict what the title of Chapter 4, "It Will Be a Long Night," means.

During community share, ask students whether their predictions based on the chapter title came true. Ask any students who responded to the first Writing Prompt question to share their ideas.

You may also wish to discuss the characters Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti with the class. Students have read enough to form opinions about each girl and about her relationships with the others. Ask students to tell what each girl is like and provide details from the book to support their descriptions. Also encourage students to relate the book to their own lives by comparing Annemarie's relationship with Kirsti to their own sibling relationships.

At this point, you may wish to check in with students about their performance in book clubs. Ask them to discuss how well their groups are meeting the standards that you outlined in Lesson 2. Because students will be doing a more in-depth self-assessment in Lesson 6, make this a relatively brief discussion. You might ask each student to give his or her group a quick numerical rating, using a scale of 1 to 10.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 5
Response to Literature: Feelings About the Story


GOAL: To explore students' emotional responses to the story

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 5

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: How did you feel as you read this chapter? Why? Why does Annemarie yank off Ellen's necklace? What would you have done in that situation?


Before students begin reading Chapter 5, make sure everyone in the class knows what the Star of David is. If necessary, explain that this six-pointed star is the symbol of the Jewish faith. David was the second king of Israel, reigning from 1002 to 962 B.C. He was also a talented musician and is credited with writing many of the psalms in the Bible. (The Yearling Newbery paperback edition shows Ellen's Star of David necklace in its cover illustration.)

Remind students that one of the response types they can use in their journals is called Feelings. They can write about how the book makes them feel, or they can write about what they think the characters are feeling. Good literature often makes readers experience strong feelings—happy, sad, angry, and so on—and students should learn to value their own emotional responses to a story. Talking about the way a book makes one feel is a rewarding part of the reading experience, and it's an essential part of Book Club. Encourage students to think and write about their feelings when they read Chapter 5.

During community share, give students the opportunity to share their personal reactions to this very powerful chapter. You may wish to discuss the symbolism in the last paragraph of the chapter, in which Annemarie notices that she has imprinted the Star of David on her own palm. Ask students whether Annemarie's prediction that she will never need to be courageous has turned out to be true.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 6
Language Conventions: Self-Assessment


GOAL: For students to assess their own performance in book clubs

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 6

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Why do you think Mama is taking the girls to Uncle Henrik's? What are the most suspenseful parts of this chapter? Which are your favorite parts?


Self-assessment is a crucial part of the learning process. Students need to know what goals they are striving toward and think about their own progress in meeting these goals. Tell students that they will be assessing their own book club performance during today's lesson. Remind them of the criteria for good book club discussions that the class listed in Lesson 2.

In community share, ask students to share what they wrote in their journals and discussed in their small groups. If your class is familiar with the concept of metaphor (or if you want to introduce it), ask them to explain the metaphor of Deer Park, where the deer once roamed free but now are hiding.

Ask students to assess their book club performance in an oral discussion. Have them critique their individual performances as well as the performance of their group. You may wish to meet with each group briefly, discuss their assessments, and create strategies for improvement.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 7
Literary Elements: Setting


GOAL: To appreciate how the author uses sensory details to create setting

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 7

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: How do Ellen and Annemarie feel as they explore Gilleleje, where Uncle Henrik lives? Draw a picture of Gilleleje.


Remind students that setting is the time and place in which a story takes place. Ask them how an author reveals the setting of a story, or what kinds of details tell the reader about setting. Suggest that as they read Chapter 7, they look for details that reveal setting.

During community share, have students share any drawings of Gilleleje that they created. Ask these students to point out details in the text that made them picture the setting in a particular way. On the chalkboard, you might create a chart or list of words and phrases that the students think create vivid pictures in their minds. Remind them that words that appeal to the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are called sensory details. Have them review Chapters 6-7 to find details that appeal to each sense.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 8
Comprehension: Vocabulary—Wonderful Words


GOAL: To explore interesting vocabulary words in the story

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 8

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Make a list of "wonderful words" from Chapter 8. Do you agree with Annemarie that Great-aunt Birte doesn't exist? How do you explain this? What do you think Uncle Henrik means by "Tomorrow will be a day for fishing"? If you made predictions earlier in your reading, have they come true? Explain. What do you predict will happen next?


One of the response choices that students may use in their reading logs is called Wonderful Words. In this type of response, students write down any words they encounter in their reading that they find interesting, strange, or confusing. They can also write a sentence or two explaining why they chose each word. To build vocabulary, students should ask their peers or you to explain any unfamiliar words, or they should look them up in a dictionary.

Chapter 8 contains some interesting words and phrases that students may want to explore, including ruefully, specter, bouquets, and mock dismay. Review the Wonderful Words response type with the class, and suggest that they use it as they read this chapter.

During community share, ask volunteers to share some of the Wonderful Words they recorded in their logs and explain why they chose them. Help students clear up any confusion they have about the meanings of these words.

Ask students whether they thought this chapter was suspenseful, and why. Ask them whether they enjoy feeling suspense when they read, and why. Have students share any predictions they have made about Great-aunt Birte's funeral and the good weather for fishing that Uncle Henrik and Mama discussed.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 9
Comprehension: Concept Web for Bravery


GOAL: To tap students' understanding about bravery and relate it to the text

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 9

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Do you think Annemarie is brave? Why? Have you ever needed to be brave? If so, write about the situation. Is Annemarie the same person that she was in the first chapters? Explain. Who do you think the "mourners" are?


Before students read Chapter 9, hold a discussion about bravery. Create a concept web for bravery on the chalkboard or on chart paper, and have students brainstorm words and ideas that they associate with bravery. Prompt them with questions such as: What does it mean to be brave? When do people need to be brave? Can a person be both frightened and brave at the same time?

During community share, return to the concept web. Ask students if they have any new ideas to add to the web after having read Chapter 9. Do they agree with Uncle Henrik that it is easier to be brave if you don't know everything? Why?

Have students share their predictions about who the mourners at Great-aunt Birte's funeral are.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 10
Literary Elements: Mood


GOAL: To analyze the mood of a chapter

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 10

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: What is the mood of this chapter? Why does Peter read the psalm to the mourners? What do you think the line "he who numbers the stars one by one" means? Why do you think Lois Lowry called this book Number the Stars? How does the ending of Chapter 10 leave you in suspense?


Explain to students that mood is the feeling that a story creates in readers. For example, a story might have a cheerful mood, a scary mood, an exciting mood, or a sad mood. In a longer story, such as a chapter book, the mood usually changes many times as different events happen. Ask students to recall the chapters they have read so far in Number the Stars and name some of the different feelings created by those chapters. Then ask them to think about mood as they read Chapter 10.

In community share, return to the topic of mood and ask students for their thoughts. You might create a word web to record students' ideas and feelings about Chapter 10. Ask them if they think Lois Lowry has done a good job of creating moods in this book. Do they feel drawn into the story? Do they care what happens to the characters? Are they eager to find out what will happen next? If they answer yes to these questions, then the author has succeeded in creating strong moods that engage the feelings of her readers.

Ask volunteers to share any ideas they have about the meaning of the book's title. Why would the author have chosen a phrase from a psalm for the title? How does Annemarie feel when she hears the psalm? What do the bigness and coldness of the sky have to do with Annemarie's feelings?

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 11
Literary Elements: Point of View


GOAL: To analyze point of view in the story

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 11

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: How would this chapter be different if Peter were telling the story? Add to your character map for Peter, based on information in Chapters 10 and 11.


Review point of view with the class. Remind students that a story may be told from the first-person or the third-person point of view. Point out that although Number the Stars is told from the third-person point of view (because the narrator does not refer to himself or herself as "I"), the reader sees events through the eyes of one particular character, Annemarie. The author tells what Annemarie is thinking and feeling, and the reader knows only what she knows. As they read Chapter 11, suggest that students think about how this point of view affects how the story is told.

Before students begin reading, you might want to create a class concept web about pride. During community share, return to the concept web and discuss what Annemarie learned about pride in Chapter 11.

In community share, ask students to discuss how the story would be different if it were told from Peter's point of view. What would readers know that Annemarie doesn't? What would readers not know if Peter were telling the story? Do students like the point of view that the author chose, and why?

Ask students whether they think Peter has changed during the story, and if so, how. (Has Peter changed, or is the author just revealing him very gradually?)

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 12
Language Conventions: Elements of a Good Log Entry


GOAL: To identify standards for good reading log entries

ASSIGNED READING: Chapters 12–13

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Write about the different feelings you had while reading Chapters 12 and 13. Do you think Annemarie will meet any soldiers on the way to Uncle Henrik's boat? If so, how do you think she'll act?


Note: Today's reading assignment is two chapters instead of the usual one chapter. The chapters are short and closely related.

Explain to students that their log entries are really thinking tools. They should not use their logs merely to summarize what they've read; instead, they should use them to achieve clear and creative thinking about the story. Emphasize that it's important to keep their pencils moving during writing time. Even if they don't have any great ideas when they begin, they might be surprised at what comes out on the paper if they just keep writing.

On the chalkboard, list elements of a good reading log entry. Book Club: A Literature-Based Curriculum. has some suggested elements; be sure to collect ideas from your students as well.

In community share, ask students about the changes in mood that happened during Chapters 12 and 13. For example, the mood was tense as Annemarie wondered why Mama was not back by 4:30; then it was scary when she saw Mama lying on the path; then it was relaxed as she and Mama sat on the step; then it became exciting when Annemarie had to deliver the package to Uncle Henrik. Ask students to consider why such changes usually occur in stories. Can they imagine a story that was suspenseful and scary the whole way through, or one that was relaxed and calm throughout? Would such stories be as good as a story with changing moods?

Ask students whether they used their logs as thinking tools today. Volunteers may describe how they used their logs to discover new ideas and feelings, or to understand something better.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 13
Literary Elements: Author's Craft—Storytelling Techniques


GOAL: To analyze the storytelling techniques that Annemarie and Lois Lowry use

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 14

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Why does Annemarie think about Little Red Riding-Hood as she runs through the woods? What feelings does Annemarie experience in Chapter 14? What do you predict will happen in the next chapter?


Ask students to think about what makes a story interesting to read or hear. What kinds of details make a story come to life? How can a storyteller create a feeling of excitement or suspense? What kinds of characters do students like? If anyone in the class has ever read or told a story to a younger child, have the student describe the techniques he or she used to keep the child's interest. Suggest that as students read Chapter 14, they think about how Lois Lowry makes events seem exciting and a little scary.

During community share, return to the topic of storytelling techniques. Ask students to recall how Annemarie made the story of Little Red Riding-Hood exciting for her sister. Did they notice that Lowry used the same technique of not revealing everything at once and letting the reader wonder what noises Annemarie heard in the woods? Did they notice the parallels between the Little Red Riding-Hood story and Annemarie's situation? How did this add to the tension and suspense of the chapter?

Have students share their predictions about what will happen next.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 14
Literary Elements: Theme—Bravery


GOAL: To analyze themes in the book

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 15

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Do you think Annemarie acts bravely in Chapter 15? Why? How do you feel about the behavior of the German soldiers? Why do you think the handkerchief is important?


Review theme with the class. Make sure students understand that a theme is an underlying message or idea in a story. Most writers want to do more than simply entertain their readers with a good story; they want to convey deeper truths about people and about life. A story can have one major theme or many interrelated ones. It's important for readers to think about theme because this helps clarify what the story has taught them.

Ask students to list some possible themes in Number the Stars. For example, they might mention bravery and pride. Ask them to think about the themes that they listed as they read Chapter 15.

Also review story structure with the class, focusing on climax. The climax of the story is the most exciting part, in which the main problem or conflict is resolved. Suggest that as they read Chapter 15, they think about whether this is the climax of the story and why.

In community share, return to the topic of theme and ask students whether any of the themes they listed were developed in Chapter 15. For example, what happened to make them think about bravery? Did they learn anything new about bravery in this chapter? If so, what?

Ask students to whether they think Chapter 15 represents the climax of this story and why. If students disagree, encourage them to debate each other, with each student providing evidence and arguments for his or her opinion.

[Return to Lesson Plan Overview]


LESSON 15
Literary Elements: Characters (Revisited)


GOAL: To consider new information about the character Peter

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 16

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: Add to your character map for Peter. Did you learn anything new about Peter in this chapter? Explain. Were you surprised by anything that Uncle Henrik told Annemarie? If so, what surprised you and why? In what ways is Annemarie growing and changing? Which details in this chapter are historically true? Which are invented?


If there are any issues from yesterday that you want to discuss with the class, do so before students begin reading. Otherwise, they can start the Book Club period by reading Chapter 16.

In community share, ask volunteers to share their character maps for Peter. What new information from Chapter 16 did they add to their maps? Ask them why they think Lois Lowry chose to save this information until the end of the book. Did any students figure out that Peter was in the Resistance before this point? If so, what clues led them to this conclusion?

Revisit the issues of theme and climax. What did they learn about bravery (and about any other themes) in Chapter 16? Did this chapter provide any more evidence about when the climax of the story occurred?

Encourage students to ask any questions that are puzzling them about the story. Make sure that everyone understands what Uncle Henrik explained to Annemarie. Tell students that they will learn more in Chapter 17 and in the Afterword.

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LESSON 16
Response to Literature: Feelings About the Book


GOAL: To explore students' personal responses to the book as a whole; to analyze the author's purpose

ASSIGNED READING: Chapter 17, Afterword

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS: What do you think was the author's purpose for writing this book? Why does Annemarie want to wear Ellen's necklace until Ellen returns? What feelings did you have as you finished the book?


Remind students that their personal and emotional responses to a story are very important. Tell them that a powerful story like Number the Stars is likely to create strong feelings in them as they read, and that they should record these feelings in their reading logs. Sharing these feelings with their book clubs can also be very rewarding and interesting.

Suggest that as they read Chapter 17 and the Afterword, students think about the author's purpose for writing the book.

After students have finished the book, written in their logs, and met with their book clubs, bring the class together for community share. Encourage students to share with the class their personal reactions to the story. Ask them whether talking about the story in their book clubs helped them understand and appreciate it, and why.

You might want to ask students about Ellen's necklace as a symbol. If any students wrote about why Annemarie wanted to wear the necklace until Ellen came home, ask them what special meaning the necklace had for each girl.

Return to the topic of author's purpose and ask students to share their ideas. An author usually has more than one purpose for writing a book, so you might want to create a class concept web and record all students' suggestions. Then you could have students vote on what they think was the most important purpose.

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