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Activities for the Reading Club's Featured Books

Our featured selections are award-winning books that are obtainable in print from libraries and bookstores, and are also available in alternate formats (electronic or braille). Grade levels are approximate.

Hana's Suitcase: A True Story

By Karen Levine

2003. Albert Whitman & Company

Available in braille from the following sources:

1. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Free loan to registered users. Users must register with their cooperating library.
(202) 707-5100


1. Make a List
(pp. 25-26) Hana and George made lists of the things they were angry about and missed when they were forced to leave their home, the things they would do once the war was over and their wishes for the future. Think about the things that you would miss if you were forced from your home and make a list. Make a list of the things you would like to do when you grow up. Do you have things on your lists that you think Hana and George had on theirs? If you like, you can share your lists with someone else.

2. Draw a Picture
Hana drew pictures when she was in the ghetto. These pictures told of events in her life and her hopes for the future. Draw a picture or write a story about events in your life or your hopes for the future.

3. Interview Someone Who is Jewish
Interview someone who is Jewish and ask this individual about their family's experience related to the Holocaust. Before you interview the person write down your list of questions. Here are some questions you might want to ask.
  • Did you or a member of your family live in Europe during the Holocaust? If yes, what happened to you or your family member?
  • Have you ever experienced prejudice because you are Jewish?
  • What do you believe the Holocaust taught us?

4. Pack a Suitcase
Hana had to pack her most valued belongings into only one suitcase. If you could only take one suitcase with you, what would you pack in it? Explain each of your selections.

5. Make a Charm
For her birthday, Hana received a heart shaped charm her mother made her. Make a charm to give to your mother or another family member. What's the significance of what you chose to make?

6. Invite a Holocause Survivor to Visit Your Class
Invite someone to visit your class who has personal experience with the Holocaust. Ask the individual to share that experience with the students. To prepare for the visit have each student write down one question for the visitor. It might be helpful to share these questions with the visitor ahead of time.

7. Visit a Holocause Museum or Center
Arrange to visit a Holocaust Museum or Center with your class. Have students prepare questions ahead of time to ask staff. If appropriate, have each student pick one artifact at the museum or center and write a story about who they think the artifact belonged to and what they believe happened to that individual.

8. Write a Paper
Discuss the parallels between the Holocaust and events currently going on in the world today. Have students write a paper where they compare the events of World War II with the events of today.

9. Speak with a Museum Curator
Invite a museum curator to talk to the class or take the class to visit a curator to learn more about what a curator does to preserve history.

10. Decorate a Suitcase
Provide each student a cutout of a suitcase. Have students draw or write on the suitcase. Their drawing or story should describe what they would put in the suitcase if it was the only thing they could take with them on a trip.

11. Write a Story About Hana
Have students write a story about what they believe would have happened to Hana if she had been sent to join the other two girls when her group arrived at Auschwitz.

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