The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Study Unit and Character Compare and Contrast is perfect for anyone soon to enter 7th grade. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is a tale about a young boy named Bruno lives with his parents in World War II era Berlin. He moves with his family right outside of Auschwitz when his father is promoted as a commander, where Bruno meets a young concentration camp prisoner named Schmuel. The two become friends, with Bruno never quite realizing who or what Schmuel is. The story follows their friendship, and eventually their search for Schmuel’s dad, which ends with heartbreak. This gem is pretty much standard in 7th Grade curriculum, whether they cover it in English class or Social Studies.
This story can teach kids a great deal about the Nazi invasion during WWII, the life and death scenarios, and how the war affected children from all walks of life. Read the text with your child, then give these activities to help further their understanding of the text a try.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Study Unit and Character Compare and Contrast
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Study Unit
1. Create a character comparison.
Draw a pair of large circles overlapping each other. Label each of the circles after the two boys, Bruno and Schmuel. On the outside of the circles, write what makes each boy unique. You can consider their nationality, upbringing, clothing, etc. On the overlapping section, write how the two boys are similar. You can talk about games they both like to play, how they love their parents, or how they are about the same age.
2. Compare Schmuel to another WWII person in history such as Ann Frank.
Many children know the story of Ann Frank and study her in school. How is Schmuel like Ann? What might they have had in common? How was their upbringing similar? What fears or dreams might they have shared? Make a list.
What would you have done in Bruno’s shoes? Think about Bruno and what you would have done if you were him. Would you have helped Schmuel? How? What would you have done to be a good friend to him? Would you have been scared? Why or why not?
4. Make inferences.
Throughout the text there are signs of impending doom. Teach children about looking for clues in stories that give us a glimpse into what may be to come. Stop during the text and make predictions about they think may happen next. At the end of the text discuss your predictions. Were they accurate?
5. Talk about feelings.
This book brings up a great deal of feelings not typically found in books geared towards young adults or teens. Talk about how this book made you feel. Have an open conversation about the heartbreaking themes of the book. Do you care to read books like this? Why or why not?
6. Go on a field trip through time.
Look to the internet for what concentration camp uniforms ay have looked like. Bruno thought his friend was wearing striped pajamas, when in fact it was a uniform. See what these uniforms may have looked like and read about what day to day life was like at many of these camps.
While this text can be a difficult read, it does give the reader a look into a gritty yet powerful world of friendship and love. Consider reading this text and then trying out the lesson units suggested above. They are a great way to understand the the text further and help the reader deal with the emotions that come with reading such a powerful and emotionally charged piece.