The Value of Teaching the Book Thief

4 April 2017

The Value of Teaching The Book Thief Supported by all the irony and vivid coloring, The Book Thief is more easily understood after acquiring knowledge of reading literature with greater care and meticulousness. It is about Liesel Meminger and her history with death, and how she handled difficult situations with the experiences, how she survived through it with words. There is a death of a friend, the love of a parent, and survival of the people who can take it. Markus Zusak took a creative approach in writing the novel that the appalling subject matter is made more tolerable.

The thing about this book that sets it apart from the rest of the books out there is the narrator, his name is Death and his job is to collect human souls. This book should definitely be taught because it is a great teaching tool, the novel gives the readers a different perspective of World War II, and the novel has an element of diversity.

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Markus Zusak’s approach to writing The Book Thief allows readers to be overwhelmed and impressed by the art of writing. He does this by using an immense amount of figurative language.

The story unfolds as metaphorical abstraction with enlightening imagery and fascinating analogies. An example imagery would be, “The orange flames waved at the crowd as paper and print dissolved inside them. Burning words were torn form their sentences” (Zusak, 112). The novel has literary devices that students can learn to identify and then adapt it into their writing. Zusak writes The Book Thief in an omniscient perspective, with this the reader can almost see the story through the character’s eyes. The novel also has a strong use detailed descriptions, similes, metaphors and analogies.

For example, “No, hair like twigs. That’s what it looks like when it hasn’t been washed. Look out for hair like twigs and swampy eyes and a kindling beard” (Zusak, 509). The novel gives readers a fresh perspective with Death. The fact that Death was given some emotion and even the sense of compassion, took the pain out of his duty. Death didn’t want to get involved with the lives of humans but he couldn’t stop from watching and caring. He always gave a warning to upcoming events so that there weren’t surprises, allowing the reader to prepare emotionally.

Zusak masters the skill of foreshadowing in the novel, which students can learn to identify and use it in their work. The novel can also teach students to put in cliffhangers in their work, as well as write in point of views of inanimate objects. This book will teach students to think outside of the box when writing. There are symbols everywhere is the book, the reader just has to pay attention to them. For example, the dominoes on the cover of the book are compared to falling bodies. The symbols provoke reflection and realization in readers.

Even the thievery of Liesel is symbolic; the young girl was robbed of a brother and her mother was taken away from her, a lot was taken from her and to settle the score she steels books. Students can learn to incorporate symbols into their writing. The Book Thief is takes place in another period, a catastrophic one where many did not have the strength to live through it. A time where words are power. The notorious tyrant, Hitler rose to power with words and stayed in power with words, the book brings that aspect out.

The book makes the reader realize how powerful words can be in a time where people are so vulnerable. The book is written from the perspective of a German family in Nazi Germany and due to this change in perspective students will learn that there are two sides to every situation. As a student myself, prior reading The Book Thief, I had always assumed that the Germans lived a decent life with no hardship while the Jewish suffered. Reading a story that is told of a struggling German family during Nazi Germany was refreshing and very educational, as it taught me that there are different aspects to everything.

The Book Thief addresses a major element of diversity. Religious differences and the brutality for choosing to be a part of that religion is acknowledged. Liesel’s family decides to hide a Jewish man in their basement knowing the consequences could be dire. Liesel learns about the conflict ongoing between the Nazi’s and the Jews, and why hiding a Jewish man would be dangerous for their family’s lives. She learns to be compassionate and love a person no matter what religion they believe in. She learns to help people as much as she can.

In a classroom there are students with different religious beliefs, at least in a diverse country like Canada. Even though the western society has come to accept other religions, but there is always the occasional joke discriminating the religion. By reading this novel students can see how Liesel accepts Max despite their religious differences. For students, learning to be accepting and compassionate towards all people, no matter their religion, ethnicity, or beliefs is an important aspect of diversity and a life lesson. The Book Thief is one of a kind.

The Book Thief should definitely be taught as it is a wonderful teaching tool. The book will allow students to identify literary devices and use them in their own works. The book will also teach students to think outside of the box when writing, and that there is no boundary when writing. The book also teaches students that there are two sides to every story. The novel also addresses a major element of diversity, which might allow students to be more accepting and compassionate of people who are of a different dissent then theirs.

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The Value of Teaching the Book Thief. (2017, Apr 24). Retrieved May 27, 2019, from
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