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A letter from Joan B. Watkins, Social Studies Teacher, Grade 5, Stony Brook School, New Jersey

Fifth Grade Social Studies Curriculum covers American history and geography. The reading of several books complementary to the different historical periods enriches the program. While previewing books, I was given Jacob's Rescue and was immediately compelled to include it in my unit on Holocaust studies. Unable to get a class set to use, I decided to use the book as a read aloud. To insure a 'listening' audience, I told the children to illustrate the pictures they saw in their heads as they heard the story.

The children were encouraged to listen with paper and pencil at hand to take notes or sketch the images they saw while listening. We discussed Stephen Spielberg's movie, "Schindler's List" noting his use of black and white rather than colors to tell his story. The children thought Mr. Spielberg did this to reveal the 'grayness' of this evil time and we decided to use this mode for our illustrations of Jacob's Rescue.

The book was read over a two-week period. The children listened, took notes and finished their illustrations at home. Each child was required to produce at least five pictures. Several turned in over 20 sketches each! They devoured the book, borrowing the two extra copies every free moment to check details or reread it themselves.

Illustration of Jacob

Student drawing of Jacob

More art and thoughts from the class

As a culminating activity, we viewed the video, "A Day in the Warsaw Ghetto." This documentary of actual photographs taken inside the ghetto by a German soldier on his forty-third birthday revealed with clarity the horrible reality that Jacob's Rescue was indeed not fiction.