Common Core Review: The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

Leon Leyson was just a young boy of ten when Hitler came to power. By the end of World War II, however, he had experienced more hardship than many men five times his age. The Boy on the Wooden Box is his account of his life and survival during those tragic times. Despite facing years of starvation and exhaustion and being surrounded by death and despair in the ghetto of Krakow and then a Nazi work camp, Leyson survived the Holocaust. Both luck and perseverance played a huge role in Leyson’s survival, but it was his relationship with a Nazi, Oskar Schindler, which helped him the most. As the youngest member of Schindler’s list, Leon Leyson was saved numerous times from situations that would almost certainly have lead to his death.  Leon Leyson has been telling his story to audiences all over the world for years now, and The Boy on the Wooden Box finally puts that amazing story down on paper for millions to experience. It is a powerful and moving account of survival in the most dreadful of situations and the discovery hope in the most unlikely of places.

Non-fiction has been given a new life with the introduction of the Common Core State Standards, particularly narrative non-fiction. The standards require that students be exposed to more informational books over the course of their education and, as a result, there is a great need for engaging non-fiction texts. The Boy on the Wooden Box is a definite standout in the narrative non-fiction category. This book would provide a great opportunity to work on the Common Core State Standards that focus on point of view and reading multiple sources on the same subject. There are plenty of high quality and engaging informational texts about the Holocaust with which The Boy on the Wooden Box can be utilized. Some possible titles to consider would be Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, My Secret Camera: Life in the Lodz Ghetto by Mendel Grossman and Frank Dabba Smith, Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rapaport, and Hana’s Suitcase: A True Story by Karen Levine.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.9 Compare and contrast one author’s presentation of events with that of another (e.g., a memoir written by and a biography on the same person).

Posted by: Staci

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