December 2013/January 2014 Issue
December 16, 2013

Check it out: Terrible Things An Allegory of the Holocaust

Source: NYSUT United

Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust

By Eve Bunting

Illustrated by Stephen Gammell

Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust - bookcover

Recommended by: Savanna Kucerak, English teacher, Homer TA

Suitable for: Grade 1 – adult

Why I chose this book: Terrible Things is a picture book story of what happens to a forest of animals when they choose to be silent, even as terrible things are taking away their neighbors, one by one, without reason. It's an accessible way to introduce kids of almost any age to the ideas and messages of the Holocaust, and can be used as a supplemental text in both English and history classes.

How teachers can use this book: I use this book as part of my ninth-grade Holocaust literature unit as we study Elie Wiesel's Night. It also pairs perfectly with the poem, "First They Came," by the Rev. Martin Niemoller. I sometimes use it before I teach a longer allegory, such as Arthur Miller's The Crucible. This way, students have an example to reference.

Although a picture book, it contains very dark material.

What I like best: This is a great read aloud, even for older students. I read this story every year to my freshmen, using a document camera to project the pictures. All students engage in the discussion that follows.

About the author: Eve Bunting has written several hundred books, both fiction and non-fiction, and has earned the Regina Medal, Edgar Award and the Storyteller Award.

About the Illustrator: Stephen Gammell won the 1989 Caldecott Medal for U.S. picture book illustration for Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman.

"Check it Out" features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians and other educators. Have a recommendation? Send suggestions, along with your name and local union, to