Have your students read The War that Saved My Life yet?

 

Something caught my eye when I saw her.  

With her hair parted on one side and her mouth open, that girl could have been me.  I wasn't alive then, but it stopped me cold when I first glimpsed this picture!

And then I tried to imagine what it must have felt like to be separated from my parents and siblings, thinking I was going on a field trip, only to later discover that I would be moving into a home with complete strangers.  Maybe for months.  Maybe for years.

                                         
When England first realized that London would face certain bombing by the Nazis in 1939, the government made an effort to move women and children, and later, just children out to the country where it was safer.  Teachers were recruited to "do their duty to country" by escorting classes as though they were going on a field trip, and staying with them until they were all taken in by new families.

In The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Ada - born with a club foot and abused by her mother for it - runs away with her brother Jamie to be part of the evacuation.  Standing in the room waiting to be chosen, she and Jamie end up not being selected.  So they are taken to a home where Susan Smith is told to do her civic duty by taking them in.

Susan knows nothing about kids, but she agrees to take them in overnight, offering them a bath, food, and a clean bed to sleep in, things they've not experienced with any regularity.  Slowly, her guard comes down, as do Ada's and Jamie's, as they learn to live and care for each other.

I especially like this book for several reasons:
  1. It offers a picture of World War II from a non-American perspective, reminding students that this was indeed a world war.
  2. The book starts with a bang!
  3. Ada's initial determination and secrecy is so understandable and the reader roots for her
  4. You can't help but empathize as the children learn about things they've never been exposed to
  5. You cheer the characters on as they grow in self- and mutual-acceptance
  6. Ada finds unexpected freedom riding a horse; some of your readers may connect to that
I couldn't find an official book trailer but found these two that I liked, on youtube (there are many more.)  Click here for the first one and here for the second one.

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