She had never read it (but knew quite a bit about it), and it had been years since I had read it, so I decided to pick up a copy, read it, and then decide whether it was something worth pursuing. After all, teaching a book in a history class? Teaching a graphic novel? It was something to think about.
As I sat down and reread the book, I was blown away by the story and the imagery. First, the story. I think that any story of a Holocaust survivor is mind-boggling. I am sure that I am not alone in saying that I honor and respect the people who were sent to Concentration camps and survived. If I am being perfectly honest with myself, I don't think I would be that strong, that resilient. I would be the person who gave up on the train heading to the camps.
But there is something incredibly moving about this story in particular. I think the juxtaposition between the "present" and the "past" of the story pulls at my heartstrings just a bit more. From the beginning, we know who survives and who doesn't, and that Vladek has lived to an age where telling his story is both painful and liberating. I actually think that the passages in the "present," where Art is trying to record his father's story, say far more about the effects of the Holocaust than the text related to Vladek's story. And I don't say that to diminish the power or struggle of what Vladek went through, but to say that this is more than a story about surviving the Holocaust-it is about a man surviving his memories.
I think that I am very lucky-to be in a school that is supporting something "outside the box." I am excited and anxious to share this experience with my students. To read a book in history class. To read a graphic novel, a form of literature that is sometimes looked down on. But I have a strong feeling my students are going to be excited and moved by the story, much like I was.
And if you haven't read Maus, you need to. It is a book (books, really) that you can't be whole without. I think I learned far more about the effects of the Holocaust from this than all my years of schooling.
This was always a book that I felt I should read, but after reading your post I know I need to go get it sooner rather than later.ReplyDelete
Good luck teaching it!
It is so incredible to me that you get to teach this. I wish I'd known about this book when I was in high school instead of discovering it after college. It's just so powerful.ReplyDelete
I'm not really a graphic-novel kind of person so I was reluctant to read this book, but I really loved it after I read it. I really respected the fact that Spiegelman didn't romanticize his father, which made the story so much more real. This book raised so many questions for me that other Holocaust books haven't. I think it's great that you're teaching it.ReplyDelete
I am SO EXCITED that the principal OKed your choice! I think your students will absolutely love the experience. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in your class. :)ReplyDelete
A great, great book. I hope the students love it.ReplyDelete
This sounds like a great book - kudos for your perseverance to teach something of value to your students!ReplyDelete
Your students are so lucky, lucky. I hope you will have powerful moments sharing with them. In a few years I'll let my sons read this as well.ReplyDelete
This looks really interesting. I'll look forward to hearing how your students go with it all. Be sure to blog about it. PamReplyDelete
It's usually really hard for me to read graphic novels, but I loved this one. I couldn't put it down.ReplyDelete
I love that you're going to teach this to your class. I hope they enjoy it.