Frankly, tired of reading Anne Frank

frank diary of a young girl Frankly, tired of reading Anne FrankI’ve hit an academic dilemma at summer camp this year. For the past three years at this gifted students’ camp, my lead instructor has chosen to teach The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank). Yes, the book provides an entryway into a very difficult historical topic; yes, it’s pretty amazing to watch Anne’s growth; and yes, she is a role model and a hero for multiple reasons. But I’m so tired of reading and teaching Anne’s diary year after year. Though it’s new to my students every time, it’s become monotonous to me. I’m bored!

I encountered the same problem with another lead teacher during the school year, except she couldn’t stand Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.  Having been raised in California, I read this book in elementary school because the narrative explained so much about Native American daily life in California. My lead teacher had used the text for over ten years, so it was understandable why she was simply sick of the book. As her assistant now given the task of teaching Island of the Blue Dolphins, I asked her why she didn’t switch Island of the Blue Dolphins out for another book. Her reasoning was that she saw the value in teaching it despite her feelings.

inside out back again thanhha lai hardcover cover art Frankly, tired of reading Anne FrankMy solution so far is to find suitable replacements (Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, in case you were wondering) but recognize that this isn’t feasible for most teachers on a regular basis. To choose a replacement means taking the time to find a book that matches what you find value in the original (now boring) book, write a whole new curriculum, and figure out how to teach it. It’s much easier to pull out familiar curriculum.

So what to do about Anne Frank? I still haven’t decided if I want to say goodbye to her forever. But the question still stands: what do you do when you have a book of value and you don’t have the passion for teaching it anymore? Do you continue to teach it because of its merit, or shelve it?

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Briana Chan About Briana Chan

Briana Chan is an elementary school teacher in California.

Comments

  1. Briana. It’s a difficult thing getting bored with a book you teach. Take Anne Frank somewhere no one will bother you, and read it again—not as a teacher, but as a reader. If you still aren’t inspired to teach it, then begin the process of finding something to replace it with. Not wanting to teach a book isn’t about the book. Something else that might fit for you is Esther Hautzig’s The Endless Steppe.

  2. Lynn Van Auken says:

    “What do you do when you have a book of value and you don’t have the passion for teaching it anymore? Do you continue to teach it because of its merit, or shelve it?”

    Shelve it and be glad you have the opportunity to do so. We are so fortunate to live in a time and place that offers an abundance of children’s literature worthy of classroom study. When teachers have the ability to select instructional texts, we must choose that which we love. Children – teenagers especially – know when teachers are “going through the motions” and when they are truly passionate about what they teach. Most kids spend precious little time engaged in shared reading, and most standards can be met through any number of texts. We should never model drudgery over delight.

  3. Rebecca Barnes says:

    I agree with Bill. I just read The Endless Steppe and would highly recommend it as a suitable replacement for “Anne.” You might consider alternating them.

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