Anne Frank. Her name immediately conjures up both sorrow and hope for me.
Sorrow for a life taken too soon. Hope for how her diary can continue to influence generations to come.
In this photo you can see my collection of Anne Frank books. The first book on the left is my original copy of her diary. The large one in the middle is the Critical Edition that I got in 1993 at the Anne Frank in the World traveling exhibit that we saw in Minneapolis. Miep Gies's book is next, followed by a few other memoirs; Melissa Muller's acclaimed biography (incidentally, I saw the 10th anniversary updated rerelease in paperback at Barnes & Noble last week); another copy of the diary in better condition; a copy of her diary in French that my dad bought me when he visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and finally the "Tales from the Secret Annex," a collection of her short stories and other writings alluded to in the diary itself.
Twenty years after the Critical Edition was published (and since Otto Frank's estate allowed it), there is now in print a definitive unabridged edition of the diary. I have not yet read it.
Why this book? I read this book when I was about ten, and it was a book I reread often. It led me to research the Holocaust for various school projects in high school, college, and grad school.
I think the diary shaped me in many significant ways. Anne was a young woman I admired. She had creativity and spunk and was very, very brave. I wanted to be a great writer. I wanted to observe and remember things. Her diary also promoted in me a lifelong interest in the Holocaust and a desire to combat prejudice and racism through being a teacher.
I will close with a story from my first year of teaching. When I taught at a Christian school in the inner city in my first full-time teaching position, I taught middle school English. The 7th grade lit book had the play "The Diary of Anne Frank," which I was excited to teach. I remember beginning my lecture the first day, and the students were angry with me. "She's white," they pointed out. "That stuff doesn't happen to white people." Needless to say, I had a lot of teaching to do, and those seven students in seventh grade Language Arts learned a lot about discrimination outside their own community and race and culture.
If you haven't yet read the diary, I encourage you to do so.
**PS: I forgot that I also have a teaching binder with information about the play and diary from the times I've taught both. This binder also includes the info my dad got me at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam when he visited in the early 90s.** To read more of this #31DaysofBooks series, visit the introduction post.