The Boy in Striped Pajamas Unit Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

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

'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas' is a young adult novel by John Boyne about a Nazi commander's son in Auschwitz during World War II. This unit plan provides teachers with guidance as they develop plans for instruction about this novel.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne is an international award-winning novel about the Holocaust from the perspective of a child. Bruno, the protagonist, is a 9-year old boy who is lonely after moving to Auschwitz where his father is a commander. Bruno meets a boy named Shmuel on the other side of a fence who always wears a striped outfit that looks like pajamas to Bruno. Neither boy understands what is happening around them as they develop a strong friendship. While teaching students about the Holocaust, this novel examines themes of family, friendship, prejudices, morality, and the consequences of war. This unit plan will support middle and high school teachers who are reading this novel with students.

Build Background Knowledge

Before reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, ask questions to find out what students already know about the Holocaust. Build student background knowledge about the Holocaust using the Holocaust Lesson Plan. This resource will guide students through a video lesson that will teach them about concentrations camps and the Nazi use of propaganda to dehumanize certain populations.


While reading the novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Discussion Questions may be used to guide student understanding of the story elements and literary devices. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Lesson Plan will support instruction of the novel while continuing to help students understand the historical events surrounding the characters' experiences.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Activities provide options for enhancing the learning experience through various learning styles, including writing, art, and drama.


At the conclusion of the novel, student will have a firm understanding of the terrible events that took place in Auschwitz. The Holocaust Research Project Ideas asset offers opportunities for students to extend their learning and show what they have learned. Students may choose related literature and participate in literature circles or research information about Holocaust survivors.

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