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Number the Stars

Children are taught at the earliest levels to share and play nice with each other. They are taught that everyone should be treated with the same respect even though some people may look different from one another. It is important to instill this tolerance in children from the earliest age, because these are the ideals that, once developed, will carry on with them for the duration of their lives. Teaching children about genocide in elementary school allows them to see what happens when, on a world-wide scale, conflicts cannot be resolved peacefully and diversity is not appreciated.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is an excellent book to teach this lesson because the story is told through the eyes of a little girl, Annemarie Johansen. She was forced to summon an unbelievable amount of courage to save her best friend and her family in the scariest of situations. The children can relate to her because she is only 10 years old, and they will understand that prejudice and racism can affect anybody, even a child just as young as them.

George Santayana, philosopher and essayist, once said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. ” The world is an extremely diverse place, and genocide mars history over and over in a vicious cycle jumping from one ethnic or religious group to another. American Indians, Jews, the Australian Aborigines, various sects under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and Darfur are only a few examples of groups that have suffered the injustice of these crimes against humanity.

To instill these values of tolerance and respect in children at the elementary school age may be the best chance at creating a world that can appreciate varied sects of ethnicity, religion, and ways of life as a virtue to a diverse population. References Lowry, L. (1998) Number the Stars. New York, New York: Laurel Leaf Publishing. Sepinwall, H. L. (1999) Incorporating Holocaust Education into K-4 Curriculum and Teaching in the United States. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 11, 3.

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