- RL.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- RL.7.9 Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.
Text: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Summary (from Goodreads): When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
Excerpts (and inferential questions):
- Chapter 1 - Who is the Fury? What is father’s job?
- Chapter 2 - Who are the new servants?
- Chapter 3 - Where are they? Who are the people in the “striped pajamas”?
- Chapter 5 - What are the flags? What is meant by the conversation between Maria and Mother? What train does Bruno see? What is the sharp motion and two words?
- Chapter 11 - Whois the Fury? Explain the dialogue between mother and father.
- Chapter 18 - Where is Shmuel’s father? What happened to Lt. Kotler?
Teaching points: This my favorite novel for teaching about making inferences. I like to teach this book during or after the unit in Social Studies on the Holocaust, because then students have the complete background knowledge to fully make all the inferences that are implied. After the SS unit, students also enjoy piecing together these inferences because they feel like they are unlocking the book in a new way, even if they have read it before.
For just a mentor text, chapter five is a great excerpt to practice making inferences with the class (RL7.1). If you are reading the whole novel together, you can also discuss how the author changed history for this novel and why he did so (RL7.9).