Bethany asked:

Do you think this is too intense for 8th graders (13-14 years old)? I'm doing a Unit on the nature of forgiveness and I found a couple great lesson plans geared towards 8th grade, but once I read the book I thought it might be too much - specifically the part where the dying officer tells his horrible story. Last year I read The Hunger Games with my 8th grade, but I feel like this is more graphic. I just don't know.

Pamela Stadden 14 year old students seem to be very mature these days. Try it with one class, then if it does not work out, you will adapt the lesson for next time.
Kelly Swaim I believe that you know your class better than anyone and that you should make the call. As a teacher, you understand 8th graders better than most of us commenting here (me included). I remember the issues that I dealt with in the 8th grade and what my friends were dealing with at the same time. I do not think that this book would be a stretch for 8th graders provided that you think it is okay. 13-14 year-olds understand far more than most adults think. I think that this book is absolutely appropriate for a unit on forgiveness because it addresses the question of whether an individual can forgive someone for something that someone did against a group. I would love to hear what your students think about that idea. This is more graphic than The Hunger Games, but I do not think that it is too much. In the 9th grade I read Night and parts of this book and we had an in-depth discussion of it in class.
Joshuah Romeike I actually read this book in grade 8, and to this day is one of my favorite books.
Reading I used this with 8th graders. They can identify with it and it makes them think. There were never glib answers after reading this.
Jbussen I disagree with the other responses. It depends on the maturity of your class. For me It would have been OK. You need to do the same type of reflection on yourself that you did when reading the sunflower. Do you trust your judgement? Maybe not as you have (like the author) sought the opinion of others.
Vickie Our school district does a very in-depth unit on the Holocaust, to include presentations from a Holocaust survivor and from a teacher who is the child of Holocaust survivors. Nothing is glossed over by these two strong women. I have read this book to several classes over the years and though intense, it is no more intense than what the news presents every night on television. You know your students better than I do; use some judgment but the truth is the truth.
Barbara I don't think this program is appropriate for 8th graders. As an adult I can't even understand why or how the Holocaust happened. I have read and continue to read many books that deal with the Holocaust as well as it's aftermath and I still can't come to terms with what occurred. I agree with Megan Williams when she wrote that "this may be a little to intense for 8th graders." Try doing a google search to find Holocaust books suitable for 8th graders to find a book more appropriate then "The Sunflower." I would also pick a book for lower grades in order to ease your 8th graders into a subject that will be very hard to grasp. Good Luck. Barbara
Megan Williams I am a freshman in college reading this for my Honors program. I think if you want a discussion between the kids, this may be a little too intense for 8th graders. I would not want my 8th grade sister reading this.
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