After reading Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, I like to introduce my 5th graders to Anne Frank. David Adler's picture book biographies are excellent. The one he wrote about Anne is particularly wonderful. It is a beautiful introduction to a difficult but important story that fifth graders a ready to learn a little bit about. I explain that most middle school/high school students are expected to read The Diary of Anne Frank as a class assignment. This is just an introduction.
The lesson goes as follows: I ask the students to fold a piece of paper into a mini "file". (This represents the file cabinet we have in our heads, our background knowledge.) On the front we make our thinking visible by writing everything we know about Anne Frank. Some students have never heard of her before, their file cabinets are empty and we are about to fill them up. Inside we write all of the questions we have about her BEFORE reading. Then we partner read the David Adler picture book, I have a class set. Next, we write all of the questions we have AFTER reading the book. On the back of the file folder we write a summary of the story. A class discussion follows regarding the questions that came up as they read. I have a collection of books written for elementary age students that I share with them after this experience. Christine