The Book Thief Movie Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'The Book Thief' is a 2013 dramatic film by director Brian Percival about an illiterate young girl who is sent to live with a foster family for her safety during World War II. This resource offers discussion questions about this movie.

The Book Thief

Brian Percival's The Book Thief is a film based on the book by the same name by Markus Zusak. The protagonist, Liesel, is sent away to live with a new family by her communist mother fearing for her safety. Liesel is unable to read when she first arrives, but loves books and learns quickly with the support of her stepfather, Hans, and the mayor's wife, Ilsa. The film offers a personal view of the war from the perspective of German citizens who disagreed with Hitler's war, but had limited power to effect change. The following questions may be used to lead classroom discussions in middle or high school classrooms.

Liesel's Move

  • Why is Liesel sent to live with Hans and Rosa? Do you think Liesel's mother made the right decision to send Liesel away? Explain your answer. What are some examples of loss Liesel has faced before arriving at her new home? How have these losses impacted Liesel? How are your relationships impacted by your experiences?
  • Describe Liesel's relationship with Rudy. What are some things they have in common? How is their relationship similar and different from your closest friendship?
  • Why do you think books are so important to Liesel? How does literacy affect Liesel's adjustment to her new home? What does book burning symbolize for Liesel?

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