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Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen live in Copenhagen in 1943 when the story of Number the Stars takes place. As a Jew, Ellen, however, was forcibly removed from her home by the Nazis.
It’s Ellen’s job to pretend to be a member of the Johansen clan, and it’s Annmarie’s decision to save Ellen’s life that puts them both in peril. Readers of all ages will enjoy Number the Stars.
How about some similar titles to read next if you’ve already read this one?
Books like Number the Stars
Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
Books like Number the Stars provide a glimmer of hope in a time of despair. As a result of Winn-Dixie, this can be seen in action. With her father the Preacher, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni has just relocated from Watley to Naomi in Florida.
Every character in Naomi has a tragic backstory, and they’re all trying to move on from a traumatic event. India finds a stray dog named Winn-Dixie one day, and the two of them work to open the hearts and minds of the people they encounter.
In search of something upbeat, this is an excellent place to begin.
Hatchet, by Gary Paulson
In a variety of ways, books like Number the Stars pit their protagonists against harrowing hardships. At times, Brian is pitted against nature in Hatchet, where his plane crashes into a forest and leaves him stranded for days.
With only his instincts and the memories of his past to rely on, Brian fears that he will never see his family again.
As the number of books for young boys decreases, there is still much to enjoy in Brian’s story despite its age. Seeing how Brian adapts and grows when faced with overwhelming odds is a joy to read about in this book.
Please read on if you’re a fan of the great outdoors!
No, I haven’t read it yet. More books like Hatchet can be found here!
Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
This word means “hope” in the spanish language. In works like Number the Stars, the central theme is often that of hope. In Esperanza Rising, you can’t help but be inspired to believe in yourself.
In Mexico, Esperanza Ortega is living the life of a princess. She has a beautiful home, a staff of servants, and a lot of money. At that point her and her mother, who had been living in a camp for Mexican farmworkers, were suddenly forced to flee to California during the Great Depression.
Esperanza is now forced to deal with racism, sexism, poverty, and hard work. Esperanza has to rise above it all to save her mother’s life and her own when this new existence is threatened.
This story revolves around the themes of faith, belief, dreams, and the ability to endure in the face of adversity.
The Devil’s Arithmetic, by Jane Yolen
In The Devil’s Arithmetic, there is always hope. Another book with a title similar to “Number the Stars” emphasizes the significance of learning about the past and keeping a constant awareness of what has transpired.
On her way to find the Prophet Elijah in her grandparents’ apartment, Hanna opens the door and discovers that she’s in 1941 Poland and her name is Chaya.
As she makes her way to a concentration camp, we learn more about Chaya/traumatic Hanna’s upbringing in the face of unspeakable cruelty.
Chaya/Hanna are fueled by hope. It’s a good lesson for younger readers, too, because it keeps them engaged.
The Devil’s Arithmetic is still used in classrooms all over the world because it is inspiring, elegant, and full of hope despite all the odds. Future generations will be reminded of the past and how quickly society can fall prey to fascists if we don’t pay attention to the lessons of history.
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
A poetic recollection of Woodson’s upbringing in South Carolina and New York City during the 1960s, Brown Girl Dreaming
Some of the darkest times in human history are depicted in books such as Number the Stars. Just like reading about the Holocaust, reading about Brown Girl Dreaming can be both frightening and hopeful at the same time.
With a mixture of hope and fear, Woodson vividly depicts what it was like to be a black kid in the late 1960s. You can see Woodson’s talent as a writer by reading about how she met her “forever friend,” Maria, in the book.
Against the racist-sexist backdrop, Woodson somehow manages to convey just how beautiful the world and its many inhabitants can still be.
The Dollhouse Murders, by Betty R Wright
Nearing the age of thirteen, Amy Treloar is struggling to avoid resenting her brain-damaged eleven-year-old sister, Louann. When Amy’s sister gets too much for her, she runs to her aunt Claire, who gives her a break.
A replica of the Treloar family’s old home and dolls from Aunt Claire’s childhood are found by Amy in Aunt Claire’s house. Despite this, Amy thinks the dolls are trying to communicate with her by moving when they aren’t being watched.
Books like Number the Stars deal with the supernatural as well as the protagonists’ psychological well-being. You can see Amy’s anxiety and anger build as she tries to be mature and understand Louann’s behavior, which is understandable as she is the sister of someone with special educational needs (SEN).
In a slim volume, The Dollhouse Murders offers a chillingly poignant mystery.
The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis
Have you ever had to rely on handouts? No, I’m talking about a really low standard of living. Is this the kind of poverty that leaves you wondering how you’re going to eat or clothe yourself? — A black person in a depression, Deza Malone, has the experience to share with you.
Soup full of worms and bugs. Shoes that are literally falling apart before your eyes. As if you can’t see the next hour, much less the next day, in front of you. People don’t talk enough about poverty, which can strike anyone at any time.
It follows Deza and her family as they struggle to find their way out of a life marred by racism, sexism, and other inequities.
Books like Number the Stars aren’t afraid to weave magic through tragedy, and despite all the hardships that Deza faces, she manages to remain upbeat, hopeful and even bouncy in her manner sometimes.
The Mighty Miss Malone is an intelligent, funny, and heartfelt novel that anyone would do well to read.
Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, by Jordan Sonnenblick
Some books force a reader to come to terms with how quickly your life can change through no fault of your own.
While Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie could be viewed as yet another “heartwarming cancer-survival story,” it focuses on a topic that is rarely discussed: how cancer affects friends and family.
It’s not unusual for a thirteen-year-old to act out in this way. Playing jazz drums is one of his many passions, and he also has a thing for the popular girl at school and is constantly irritated by his annoying younger brother, Jeffrey. As a result of Jeffrey’s leukemia diagnosis, Steven is forced to confront issues he has never faced before.
Little brothers can be annoying; I have one myself and I remember what it was like when I was thirteen. Even so, I’ve experienced what it’s like to feel left out when everyone’s focus is on my brother.
Your parents are dealing with this crisis, and you’ve just found out that your sibling is seriously ill. How would you respond? Guilty? Ashamed? Angry? Upset?
In Drums, Girls, & Dangeous Pie, the filmmakers shed much-needed light on how cancer affects those around the patient as well.
Counting the Stars is a symbol of hope in the midst of adversity. If you are looking for a novel that is both new and similar to Lois Lowry’s novel, I would recommend reading any of the books listed above.