RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Takes place in Nazi Germany. Will make you appreciate how easily we have access to books.


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • I just do not know how to properly describe this amazing book. It is a story written by a little girl but told by Death. When I flipped to the first page of the prologue, a line caught my eyes, “Here is a small fact: You are going to die.” It sure is a difficult book for me to read because it requires a lot of historical background knowledge and consists of many characters. It deserves reread and I plan to watch the movie in the near future. This book is a cruel fairytale for adults, an intellectual stimulator for curious individuals, and an extraordinary story for every sensible man and woman.

• I got an audio book along with a hard copy to read, which made the reading more fun. I also realized again that one of the best ways to learn a new language is emerged into contexts. Interestingly, I picked up some German words like verstehst (understand), Alles gut? (Is everything good?), saumensch, saukerl, Nein (No), Danke (Thank you) … I also found out some adjectives in this book are very vivid, such as a chocolate-colored sky, hair the color of a lemon and chestnut-colored door. Liesel’s foster family is a warm place for her. She learns to read and write with her papa in their midnight class. The tradition of circling the words she does not know and write them down. This strategy can be used with students who are struggling in reading class. Despite how impatient and unfriendly Rosa seems like, she loves her foster daughter in a special way, and she is warm-hearted too. I was deeply moved by Liesel and her foster family and their effort to save a Jewish man Max.

• This is a book about Nazi Germany and the World War II. It tells people how the war has influenced ordinary German people and changed their lives forever. It also reminds me of the war between Chinese and Japanese. Just like Japanese is not equal to Japanese militarism, German is not the same as Nazi Party. I do not withhold hatred in my heart, and I sincerely wish we all can live in a peaceful world!


message 3: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments I first purchased the book and began reading it then noticed the book had more than 500 pages! Realizing that there is no way I can get through this book in one short week. Then I purchased the audiobook and it was so worth it! The voice of Death was strong and firm but broken at the same time. Death spoke the truth of people and saddened on how the world was turning. The novel is so well written. The words just pulled me in, the words are powerful, meaningful, and just flow together. The words used to overwhelm me when I started the book however, the words were also the reason I listening and couldn't put the book down.
This novel has shown many different perspectives of WWII. A little girl trying to hold on to hope (family), Papa battling right and wrong (Nazi member or a Jew lover), Mama keeping her family (plus Max) alive and feed, Ruby a little boy in love with his best friend, and Max a Jew that is alive because of the enemy (Germans/ Fubrer).
This book is a great example of the power of words.


message 4: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Although this book tells us about a horrendous time, and the characters suffer violence, cruelty, sadness, and pain, we can see a relevant message of heroism, friendship, courage, and love when we think about the relationship between Liesel and her foster family, especially her Dad. Readers should know that this book is a tremendous portrayal of life under the Nazi regime.
This novel tells us a story about a young girl Liesel, growing up in Germany during World War II. Liesel lives with foster parents, Hans and Rosa. She steals books, learns to read, and finds comfort in words. Liesel and Max, the Jew her family protects, are the only main characters that survive the war.
What amazes me is Liesel´s interest in books, considering that when she stole the first one, she did not even know how to read. Through the story, we can see the oppressor system and the harmful consequences of the war. Among others, people do not have free access to books. It makes me think about how fortunate we are for the opportunity to read all kinds of books.


message 5: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Full Disclosure: I knew I would not have time to read this book, so I downloaded the "cliff notes" version, which is about 40 pages long. However, as I was reading the synopsis, I quickly realized that I HAVE already read this book a few years ago during one of my book clubs! The synopsis triggered my memory and all the details made everything come back. This is a powerful book, to say the least.
What stuck out to me the most is the amount of difficult vocabulary. If this book were to be taught in a classroom, the teacher would absolutely have to preview the upcoming vocabulary before reading the novel. Students don't do well when they are having to look up every other word. Actually, I wouldn't recommend reading this book with any grade except, perhaps, seniors. It's a daunting book in both length and topic. I could see an AP class tackling this book, but even that would be an uphill climb. When I read this in my book club, as an adult, I remember seeing this book as a challenge. It is a beautiful story, for sure. But, I think adults are better suited to understand its gravity.


message 6: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments I read this book 8 years ago with my husband, that experience took us 4 months ( it is important to say he is ADHD), I believe the story was translated and did not lose any meaning.
The Girl Who Stole Books transcends her genre, it is much more than just fiction in the second world war, and we can visualize how literature can alleviate human suffering. The plot is set against Nazi Germany and a peculiar narrator: Death itself.
Despite the impeccable narration, the plot is simple. The protagonist who seeks in literature a refuge from the evils of war. See the persecution not only of Jews and minorities but also books that were “inconvenient” to the regime, making Liesel's adoration of books a secret, stealing her first book, before she even knew how to read.
The great lesson from this book is "the words have power". Liesel learns the importance of words by reading her stolen books and the gift that Max, the Jew housed by the Hubbermanns, gives her. The message of the book is clear: Liesel's words are life, while Hitler's words are death. Our words have the power to cheer and sadden another person, and they need to be measured thoroughly before being used. Avoid regretting something that was said without thinking.


message 7: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Lourdes wrote: "Although this book tells us about a horrendous time, and the characters suffer violence, cruelty, sadness, and pain, we can see a relevant message of heroism, friendship, courage, and love when we ..."

Hi Lourdes
I was surprised when she got her first book without know to read. In this book shows us that we have the power in our hands nowadays, technology has been helping us to gain knowledge and to spread with everybody. We are fortunate to read all kinds of books and to connect with everyone that we want to.


message 8: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Lisa wrote: "Takes place in Nazi Germany. Will make you appreciate how easily we have access to books."

Book Thief

Before I started reading, I was very excited. I have heard many great things about this book and genuinely enjoy reading historical fiction novels, especially the ones that take place during World War II. So I was kind of disappointed that I couldn't get into this book. The majority of the other books we have read I picked up and read until I had to move on to something else, but not this one. Although, it might have to do with the format. Since the quarantine has started, I've had to start reading e-books, which I am not a huge fan of, especially with lengthy books like this.

Despite this, it is a very well written book, and I would recommend it to others. The themes in this book are so powerful and reminded me that we often take reading for granted. Also, the hard times for some of the characters, Liesel and the loss of her family, and then with Liesel's foster family with Max. I think that it might be challenging to teach this book with students. I think the length alone would intimidate them, but it would be something that adults would be able to handle.

The novel also gives some insight into all the terrible things that were happening during this time and the tragedies of the war. Among other things, Liesel learns about the power of words. It starts with her unable to read, but soon she can read, you can see how it changed her. I think sometimes we forget that although it seems like reading is something that everyone can do, that's not always the case. I try to remember that when I have a book that I'm not very interested in and would be something that students could take away.


message 9: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Diana wrote: "I first purchased the book and began reading it then noticed the book had more than 500 pages! Realizing that there is no way I can get through this book in one short week. Then I purchased the aud..."

Hey Diana,

I love how you ended your post with the power of words. It is so true and that is also the reason why I am fond of reading. Just like you, I also got the audiobook and appreciated it so much. Upon reading, the words really impressed me too.

Yao Chen


message 10: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "Full Disclosure: I knew I would not have time to read this book, so I downloaded the "cliff notes" version, which is about 40 pages long. However, as I was reading the synopsis, I quickly realized ..."

Hey Natalie,

I enjoy reading your reflection on books every time. You always have good points that I do not come up by myself. It sure is a challenging book to read plus the vocabulary is relatively hard. I do not see myself assign this book in a literature class as well. But I would like to suggest my students to do pleasure reading and write a journal reflection.

Yao Chen


message 11: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Jackie wrote: "Before I started reading, I was very excited. I have heard many great things ab..."

Hi Jackie,
The same happened to me! I have heard great comments about this novel before my reading. What amazed me is that one of my nieces read this book in Brazil some years ago, and she loved it. At that time, she was 19. It seems that even adolescents can appreciate it; however I agree with you that it may be hard to teach this book due to its length.


message 12: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Yao wrote: "• I just do not know how to properly describe this amazing book. It is a story written by a little girl but told by Death. When I flipped to the first page of the prologue, a line caught my eyes, “..."

Hey Yao,
I like that you point out that teachers can use the strategy of circling the words and write them down with students who are struggling with reading. As this novel has a vast and hard vocabulary, pre-teaching the words can also help, although I can tell that for this kind of book, it will be a lot of work.
Good catch!


message 13: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments The book thief by Markus Zusak
This is a perfect novel for adolescents, it is different from the other novels with the idea, situation, and characters. This story happened in world war II and the storyteller is “Death”. In that special situation, Death can see through everything, inside a person, see all pain, loss, and death caused by war. And by Death’s eyes, readers can feel the love that people give together: Hans and Rose Hubermann adopted Liesel and the way Hans takes care Liesel when she has nightmare s and Hans sits with her through the night and the way Hans keeps Max in his basement even he knows that he can be killed. And Liesel has a passion for words, books, and languages. But the ruthlessness of the war can’t kill her love, it is also a strong denunciation the wicked of the war.
This story reminds me of the Vietnamese war, we had to fight three times. A lot of wives lost husbands, moms lost their children, children lost their parents and hundred and hundred Vietnamese lost their home, their family. I was born when my country is independent, I knew about the was and the result of it by my grandparents and parents’stories and the novel at that time but I can fell how painfulness of the war!


message 14: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Natalie wrote: "Full Disclosure: I knew I would not have time to read this book, so I downloaded the "cliff notes" version, which is about 40 pages long. However, as I was reading the synopsis, I quickly realized ..."

Hi Natalie!
I agree with you this book is difficult for adolescents. But I think they should read it because this book is different from the others and it talk about the war. We can teach them and let them see how is the war, how is destroyable of the war and how can people can pass this hard time! It is a part of the history, and they should know about that


message 15: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Bruna wrote: "I read this book 8 years ago with my husband, that experience took us 4 months ( it is important to say he is ADHD), I believe the story was translated and did not lose any meaning.
The Girl Who S..."

Hi Bruna!
I really like your idea and totally agree with you " the words have power", and it is true in every situation and society. It is a powerful tool to fight evil. it can keep the secret of history.


message 16: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Bruna wrote: "I read this book 8 years ago with my husband, that experience took us 4 months ( it is important to say he is ADHD), I believe the story was translated and did not lose any meaning.
The Girl Who S..."


I like how you said that "Liesel's words are life, while Hitler's words are death". When I first started reading the book, I didn't understand the title, like who would still a book? But now the title is so beautiful to me. A little girl was willing to risk it all for words. The words created the moments and gave her strengh.


message 17: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments ThaoTam wrote: "The book thief by Markus Zusak
This is a perfect novel for adolescents, it is different from the other novels with the idea, situation, and characters. This story happened in world war II and the s..."


I thought it was so creative to have the narrator be Death. He put a different perspective on life, love, and humanity. I really enjoyed this book!


message 18: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments ThaoTam wrote: "The book thief by Markus Zusak
This is a perfect novel for adolescents, it is different from the other novels with the idea, situation, and characters. This story happened in world war II and the s..."


Hi Thao,

I think it was an interesting perspective to read the story with Death as the narrator. I like how you spoke about how Death can see all of a person, like their pain and the loss. With all wars, there is so much loss. In the story, we were able to see how the war affects the people there, but it happens all around the war.


message 19: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Hi Jackie,
The same happened to me! I have heard great comments about this novel before my readin..."

Hi Lourdes,

Yes, I mentioned that I was reading this book, and a group of my friends wanted to start a book club with this as the first book. I do think that adolescents would learn a lot from reading this book. I believe that once they get started, they will want to finish it.


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