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Or is Anne Frank’s diary & other WW2 stuff inappropriate for primary school children

(102 Posts)
Lellikelly26 Sat 23-Jun-18 08:59:03

My DD is in year 3 (8 yr olds) and is studying WW2. I don’t know the extent of what they cover at school but my mum brought round some WW2 diaries including a lady who was in Jersey during it’s German occupation and other accounts of women who helped in the war effort and felt responsible for deaths, with one killing herself. I do not think this is appropriate reading for an 8 year old.
My DM used to read me Anne Frank’s diary as bedtime reading when I was a kid and I have refused to engage in anything to do with the wars since I was so disturbed. I avoided history at school and can’t watch films about it etc.
AIBU or are some accounts of the wars not appropriate for primary age children.

RiverTam Sat 23-Jun-18 09:02:08

Is that part of the curriculum? DD is Year 3 and they’ve haven’t done this.

I think both world wars are too complex for this age.

Echobelly Sat 23-Jun-18 09:03:01

I think stuff dealing with suicide would be a bit much, and I certainly Anne Frank as bedtime reading seems likely to disturb as it did you, which is not good as, like in your case, it might put people off.

My kids go to a Jewish school and I know that next year (Y6) they study the holocaust and do projects on it, and I think that is old enough to start facing it. We are going to my mum's home country on holiday this year, and I plan to visit my grandfather's grave and introduce the whole thing by explaining why so many graves in the Jewish cemetery, including his, have long lists of names on the reverse - it's all the family members who were killed in the Holocaust.

I think younger kids should know something about WWII, but at a wider-angle lens at that age.

Sixerseconder Sat 23-Jun-18 09:03:06

Err YABVVVU. I did Anne Frank’s diary at primary school, as well as studying the darker aspects of the world wars. (I.e. not just the war spirit, isn’t Britain great sort of stuff),

I ended up doing History at university. So it didn’t put me off History for life.

Clearly you just don’t like to learn about sad things that humans have done to each other.

But that’s on you, not on your school or your mother.

Pengggwn Sat 23-Jun-18 09:03:18

Some accounts are certainly not appropriate. Some are. It depends on the exact content. I would say suicides should be avoided.

rosesandflowers1 Sat 23-Jun-18 09:06:43

I wouldn't think Anne Frank would terrify most children to the extent it did you, but I can see where you're going.

I think specifically chosen accounts would be best.

MetalMidget Sat 23-Jun-18 09:07:01

I remember studying stuff about WWII at primary school - it was mostly on how it impacted life in the UK though. Stuff about blackout blinds, bomb shelters, gasmasks, rationing, evacuee children going to the countryside, etc.
Didn't do any WWII stuff in high school - I did GCSE history, but we were studying the industrial and agricultural revolutions.

Rainydaydog Sat 23-Jun-18 09:08:01

I agree. I think they should teach about the wars at primary, but they can cover these subjects without going into the very disturbing parts of it. To make it more relevant to their age they could look at how children were affected as evacuees in this country, living on rations, parents away in the forces and so on. Later they do need to cover the holocaust and reality fighting but that can be at secondary age.

Raven88 Sat 23-Jun-18 09:09:51

It does seem a bit young. I learnt about WW2 when I was 12. I loved history at school. It's quite a dark topic,

ScreamingValenta Sat 23-Jun-18 09:12:51

I first read Anne Frank's diary when I was about 9 - definitely 3rd year juniors, anyway, as a friend was reading it too. It was the slightly edited 60s edition (my mum's copy) so it left out some of Anne's observations about sex. I was disturbed by it, but I should think anyone reading it at any age would be disturbed by it - there would be something wrong if you read it and weren't troubled.

Sirzy Sat 23-Jun-18 09:14:15

Ds is in year 3. I wouldn’t think Anne frank was suitable for a few years yet. He is a massive history fan though so has read carries war and the Jacqueline Wilson book on evacuation.

I think as with anything else it’s about how it’s approached as much as anything.

ememem84 Sat 23-Jun-18 09:18:00

I live in Jersey. There are some fascinating stories of the time during the nazi occupation here. Sad but fascinating.

If you can, watch “another mother’s son” maybe don’t let dd watch it as there are some quite sad/violent bits. But it’s great. And a true story.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 23-Jun-18 09:20:23

Depends on how you teach it and what you focus on. The Holocaust is usually left until upper KS2 but there are plenty of other aspects that can be covered in yr 3.

Similarly the Occupation can be covered in slightly different ways depending on the age of the children.

Mousefunky Sat 23-Jun-18 09:21:50

We did WW2 in year 4 and I distinctly remember reading Anne Frank’s diary around the same time. My DM bought me it actually and i’m not quite sure how much of it I understood at the time but it didn’t scare me.

Lest we forget Anne herself wasn’t much older when they went into captivity. Children live through much worse than learning about WW2 at school...

tierraJ Sat 23-Jun-18 09:25:10

My grandparents told me all about the war when I was a child (including the Manchester blitz & tank battles in Burma) when I was a child - it had been a huge thing in their lives & they reminisced all the time.

It didn't damage me, instead it sparked an interest & I now have dozens of factual books on ww2 & the Holocaust as an adult.

However I read Anne franks diary at 12 which is probably a more suitable age as she discusses themes relevant to young teens.
I think a 12 yr old would understand the themes better than an 8 year old so YANBU in that sense.

But if you think Anne Franks diary is upsetting then don't try Alicia Appleman's story for example!!

SolidarityGdansk Sat 23-Jun-18 09:29:23

I think at that age they just cover the home front.

Anderson shelters and rationing and stuff like that. Which I think is fine.

My DHs grandparents were killed in the Holocaust and so we have been very open with our children about their background and why there is no family on their Dads side. It was a gradual drip feeding of facts. All at once would be too overwhelming.

Lellikelly26 Sat 23-Jun-18 09:30:58

Thanks all. I do think it’s really important for children to be taught this stuff especially with the state of the world at present, but at an age when they have the emotional capacity to cope with it.

Sheeparemyfriends Sat 23-Jun-18 09:31:56

Bad things happen, bet your kids watch newsround at school, what is happening on the US and Syria is awful. I don't think Anne Frank is too bad for primary. They may also be looking at Warhorse and Private Peaceful which are far more emotive. Part of parenting is teaching your kids how to face hard things in life.

ScreamingValenta Sat 23-Jun-18 09:32:43

tierraJ That's an interesting point - my grandparents talked about the war too, and children of my generation were used to hearing older people talking about their wartime experiences. Both my parents were born during WW2. It was a much less remote thing for us than it must be for today's children, so perhaps it's less easy for modern youth to assimilate.

PinkCrystal Sat 23-Jun-18 09:47:27

I disagree. I think it is a good thing for little kids to learn about. I took all mine to air raid shelters etc at a young age. They all read AF. Life changing book IMO.

busybarbara Sat 23-Jun-18 09:56:06

I think both world wars are too complex for this age.

The first world war is too complex for most adults, I challenge you to find more than a couple of friends who can outline the lead up to why it occurred grin

DSHathawayGivesMeFannyGallops Sat 23-Jun-18 10:04:08

My father was living through the blitz at that age and appears to have suffered no ill effects. I wouldn't have said it was appropriate but it is a bit more in yer face than learning about it!

It's really horses for courses and depends on your DC. My school taught ww2 in yr6 and didn't linger over the Holocaust although Annes life was taught. I read Anne Frank at age 8 in year 4 and I was young in the year. I asked to. I knew about the war and had read a story book about her already. My parents agreed and used it to introduce the Holocaust to me. Honestly, a lot of her diary is mundane. There's one passage describing Westerboerk and I realised at 8 or 9 how scared they'd be of that, but that was it. I've read it many times since and picked up the emotional tensions and strain far more as a teen and adult. A lot goes over small heads.

The book really introduced me to history though and I read a lot about the Holocaust from then on. I was quite an unflinching child, I think because it never especially bothered me. I think children accept a lot more or can learn without emotion. I was far more upset aged 10 by Zlatas Diary, which was written by a little girl in Sarajevo. I simply found it far more frightening.

If you can find a copy "Anne Frank: The Last Few Days of Freedom" is a good book. It's the story of Anne going into hiding and would perhaps help you gauge DCs reactions.

My mum always reckoned that once I'd seen war on the news as a little girl, it probably didn't come as much of a shock.

ineedaholidaynow Sat 23-Jun-18 10:08:35

I read Anne Frank for the first time only a few years ago, when I was in my 40s blush

I saw it in the children's section of the library when getting books for DS. So thought I would get it so I could read it. DH also read it as he hadn't read it before. It wasn't what we were both expecting. I certainly didn't think it was suitable to be in the children's section of the library. They have a separate section for teens and I think it was more suitable for that age group.

It is not because of the war aspect but that it contains a young girl's writing about themes relevant to young teens e.g. sex, attitude to her parents. I found it so sad how she wrote about her mother and that she never had a chance to improve her relationship with her before they all died sad

TeenTimesTwo Sat 23-Jun-18 10:09:12

I think y3 is too young for AF diary. Horrific things happen, but no need to force details down the throat of 8yos.

The war in general, evacuees, general terms of what the Nazis did maybe at that age. But I wouldn't get into holocaust details at that age. We went to the IWM and their holocaust exhibition had a minimum age of 12 iirc.

HonestTeacher Sat 23-Jun-18 10:13:58

Year 3 is a bit young. My school teaches it in Year 6 and the children really enjoy it.

Schools don't have to teach it though. The curriculum just gives suggestions as to what subjects they can teach.

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