Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. 2005. HITLER YOUTH: GROWING UP IN HITLER’S SHADOW. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439353793 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]

As he surveyed his people, Hitler replied, “I begin with the young. We older ones are used up…But my magnificent youngsters! Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? Look at these men and boys! What material! With them I can make a new world.” Bartoletti’s stunning photo-illustrated book inspects the youth organizations founded by Adolf Hitler which he craftfully used to meet his sociopolitical and military ends. Structured around twelve individuals and their experiences, these profiles of individual Hitler Youth members as well as young people who opposed the Nazis, offer an opportunity for today’s generation to better understand how this important piece of history shaped the world.

Drawing on oral histories, diaries, letters, and interviews with Holocaust survivors, Bartoletti’s offering is a shining example of the very best nonfiction has to offer. By providing a photographic index of the contributors labeled “the young people in this book”, the author quickly whets the reader’s appetite for the narrative photo-biography in the opening pages. The strengths of Bartoletti’s work are many; using her signature style, the narrative quality of language flows and quickly draws readers into the events of the Hitler youth movement. Supported by strong captions, embedded black-and-white photographs include haunting images which capture the Reich’s successful propaganda campaign. In addition, she offers an abundance of source materials, including extensive chapter notes, a selected bibliography, and a user friendly index. This chronology is a stellar addition to an existing large body of WWII materials.

After reading Bartoletti’s offering, teens could write an “I Am” poem by analyzing information from one of the narrative threads from the text. After completing the poem, they could illustrate the poem using details from the book or research photos available on the web.

Other works by Susan Campbell Bartoletti:
KIDS ON STRIKE!. ISBN 0385888921

By Rose Brock

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