Number the Stars is historical fiction set during WWII in Nazi occupied Denmark. 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen risks her life to help the Rosens, her Jewish friends, escape to safety in Sweden.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
11th Grade Informational Text 1490L
Introduction to the Holocaust
Passage Summary: This informational text explains what the Holocaust was, who it affected, who carried it out, and how it ended.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text before students begin reading the novel for background and context on the Holocaust and the Nazi regime.
5th Grade Parable 450L
The Worst Sin
Passage Summary: How do we judge what is right and wrong? Are there some actions that are better or worse that others? These are just a few of the questions raised in this parable about the Jewish judgment day, Yom Kippur, by Joshua Salik.
When and How to Pair: Pair “The Worst Sin” with chapter three. Have students consider the bailiff's perspective toward the man who did “nothing” to Annemarie’s perspective on protecting the Jews. Ask students to compare and contrast the theme of “The Worst Sin” with the idea that all Danes must be the “bodyguard for the Jews,” as Annemarie states in chapter three.
8th Grade Informational Text 1320L
Who Was Anne Frank?
Passage Summary: This informational text explores the events of World War II as experienced by Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl whose life was permanently changed by the war.
When and How to Pair: Assign “Who Was Anne Frank” after reading chapter four. In this chapter, Annemarie’s family begins hiding Ellen from the Nazis because there is speculation that the Nazis will begin arresting Danish Jews within days. Ask students to compare and contrast Ellen’s circumstances with those of Anne Frank. How are Ellen’s circumstances similar or different from Anne Frank’s? Using the story of Anne Frank as your guide, what could happen to Ellen and Annemarie’s family if they are discovered by the Nazis?
6th Grade Interview 1020L
Woman Who Helped Anne Frank Dies at 100
Passage Summary: In this interview from NPR, a reporter speaks to the woman who helped to hide Anne Frank’s family, risking her own life in the process.
When and How to Pair: Pair Chapter five with “Woman Who Helped Anne Frank Dies at 100.” In this chapter, Annemarie must summon all of her courage to save Ellen from the Nazi Gestapo who have come into Annemarie’s house looking for Ellen and her parents. This is very similar to the bravery Miep Gies showed when hiding the Frank family. Ask students to analyze the source of Annemarie’s courage using Miep Gies’s perspective as context. Do you think Annemarie “simply had no choice” to help Ellen or was she actually being heroic?
8th Grade Primary Source Document 1000L
Excerpt from Trail of Tears Diary
Passage Summary: The Trail of Tears is the name given to the forced relocation of Native American nations following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of tribes who did not wish to assimilate. Many Native Americans suffered from disease and exposure, and somewhere between 2,000-6,000 Cherokee died on the trail. The Trail of Tears Diary includes interviews that reveals the extraordinary resilience of the Native American nations during the trail.
When and How to Pair: Pair “Except from Trail of Tears Diary” with Chapter 10. In this chapter, Nazi Gestapo make a surprise visit to Henrik’s cottage, where Ellen and several other Danish Jews are waiting to walk to Henrik’s boat. Only through quick thinking do they outsmart the Nazis in this tense situation. Ask students to identify the similarities and differences that exist between the experiences of the Danish Jews in the novel and Native Americans that were forced to relocate westward. What are the emotional similarities between the two situations? What are the similar ways in which the two groups perceive the dangers?
6th Grade Informational Text 970L
The Underground Railroad
Passage Summary: The informational text “The Underground Railroad” provides an overview of the actions of Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad conductors.
When and How to Pair: Pair “The Underground Railroad” with Chapter 13. In this chapter, Mama has returned to the cottage from delivering the Danish Jews to Uncle Henrik’s boat, but she has broken her ankle, which forces Annemarie to make the dangerous journey back to the boat to deliver a mysterious but important package. Have students consider the qualities that Peter, Uncle Henrik, Inge and Annemarie exhibit during this subterfuge. Have them compare those characters’ qualities with the qualities exhibited by Harriet Tubman and other abolitionists who helped slaves escape to freedom.
8th Grade Informational Text 1230L
Courage in Denmark: Resistance to the Nazis in WWII
Passage Summary: Danish resistance during the Holocaust is explored in the context of global efforts to thwart the Nazis during World War II.
When and How to Pair: After reading Chapter 16, assign “Courage in Denmark: Resistance to the Nazis in WWII” to students who are advanced readers, since this text is quite rigorous in comparison to the novel. In this chapter, Uncle Henrik explains the details of how Ellen and the others were saved by ferrying them to safety in neutral Sweden. Have students identify the reasons why the Danes were so successful at protecting Jewish citizens from the Nazis during World War II. Ask students to identify the historical details that Lois Lowry — the author of the novel — included in Number the Stars, as well as those details she chose to omit. How would including (or omitting) different details have changed the novel?
10th Grade Informational Text 1420L
Danish Resistance During the Holocaust
Passage Summary: During the Holocaust, some people in German-controlled Denmark fought against the violent actions and policies put in place by the Nazi party.
When and How to Pair: After reading Chapter 16, assign “Danish Resistance During the Holocaust” to advanced readers. In this chapter, Uncle Henrik explains the details of how Ellen and the others were saved by ferrying them to safety in neutral Sweden. Have students identify the reasons why the Danes were so successful at protecting Jewish citizens from the Nazis during World War II. Ask students to identify the historical details that Lois Lowry — the author of the novel — included in Number the Stars, as well as those details she chose to omit. How would including (or omitting) different details have changed the novel?
8th Grade News 1040L
It’s For You to Know That You Forgive, Says Holocaust Survivor
Passage Summary: Holocaust survivor Eva Kor meets former Nazi on trial, and offers powerful words about forgiveness, taking back power, and how to move forward.
When and How to Pair: Pair Chapter 17 with “It’s for You to Know that You Forgive, Says Holocaust Survivor.” This chapter takes place the day WWII ended. Annemarie learns of the awful fate of Peter and the true circumstances of Lise’s death. Despite this bad news, the book ends on a hopeful note as Annemarie pledges to wear Ellen’s Star-of-David necklace until Ellen can come back to Denmark and claim it. Have students compare the perspectives Annemarie and Eva Kor have on the aftermath of war. Have students discuss what attitudes they think Annemarie and Eva might have about the future, after living through such terrible circumstances.