Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Lesson Plan

Introductory Lecture and Objectives

Introductory Lecture

Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl recounts the day-to-day experience of a young Jewish girl living in hiding in Nazi-occupied Holland during World War II. In 1942, the thirteen-year-old Anne and her family moved to the top floors of a warehouse in the heart of Amsterdam, where they lived for over two years with another family and a man separated from his Christian wife. Anne chronicles life in the Secret Annex in great detail. The diary ends abruptly, just days before the entire group is arrested and deported to concentration camps. Everyone in the group perished, with the exception of Anne’s father, Otto Frank. Miep Gies, one of the people who helped the family while they were in hiding by bringing them fresh food and other supplies, went to the Annex shortly after the arrest and discovered Anne’s diary and other papers. She gathered them up and placed them in a drawer, unread, until after the war. When Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam, she handed them over to him. Although he was initially reluctant to have his daughter’s writing published, he eventually relented, realizing that her story might be of value to others. Anne’s diary has since become one of the most famous first-person accounts of World War II. 

Anne writes about her experience in the moment. Her diary has an immediacy that is difficult to achieve when writing from memory. She also writes from the perspective of an adolescent; therefore, many young readers feel a special connection to her. They understand her frustrations with her parents, her desire for independence, and her curiosity about sex and relationships. Identifying with Anne makes it possible for them to more vividly imagine her experience. Finally, Anne is a gifted and insightful writer with an inspiring and almost unwavering sense of hope and optimism. She maintains her faith in humanity and a positive outlook—despite being cut off from any kind of normal life and despite the cruelty of the Nazi regime. After hiding from the Nazis for two years, Anne Frank writes, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart,” a testament to the strength of her spirit. 

Anne’s diary can be appreciated on several different levels. For many students, the diary is their first experience in reading a Holocaust-era narrative and serves as a point of departure for discussing that difficult period in history. On another level, it is the story of an exceptionally self-aware young girl chronicling her maturation over the course of two pivotal years of adolescence. When Anne begins her diary, she is a young girl like any other, absorbed by her friends and school. Two years later, she is a mature and thoughtful young woman with well-formulated thoughts on social justice, women’s rights, religion, humanity, and goodness. Although much of what Anne experiences in daily life is impossible for readers to fully grasp, her desire for independence, her journey of self-discovery, her boundless curiosity, and her questions about what sort of person she wants to become can be understood by young people everywhere. Finally, Anne’s diary demonstrates the saliency of first-person narratives as primary documents in the study of history. How is a diary more valuable than statistics? How is one voice more powerful than millions? Why has Anne Frank become one of the defining symbols of World War II? 

Anne says at one point, “I want to go on living even after my death!” She explains that her greatest wish is to be a famous writer, and at another time, she expresses her desire to make her voice heard. Although not in the way she ever intended, her powerful voice has indeed been heard, and it continues to resonate. Anne Frank’s hope and humanity continue to be an inspiration to many around the world. 

Note: Understanding the historical context of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl is essential to students’ understanding and appreciating the book. The policies of Nazi Germany in World War II that forced Anne into hiding and that resulted in the Holocaust should be reviewed before students read the diary.

By the end of the unit the student will be able to: 

1. Describe Anne’s personality and explain why she continues to inspire so many people. 

2. Identify the challenges and dangers of life in hiding. 

3. Describe how Anne changes over the course of her two years in hiding. 

4. Explain why Jewish people were forced to go into hiding during World War II. 

5. Discuss why Anne Frank’s diary has become such a renowned account of this period in history. 

6. Explain the importance of primary documents as a historical resource. 

7. Define the following terms: genocide, the Holocaust, racial “purity”/ethnic cleansing, Nazi Germany, anti-Jewish laws, and concentration camps. 

8. Explain how the act of writing can serve as a means of resistance or assertion for the disenfranchised and oppressed.

Instructional Focus: Teaching With an eNotes Lesson Plan

This eNotes lesson plan is designed so that it may be used in numerous ways to accommodate ESL students and to differentiate instruction in the classroom.

Student Study Guide

  • The Study Guide is organized to study the diary in sections. Study Guide pages may be assigned individually and completed at a student’s own pace.
  • Study Guide pages may be used as pre-reading activities to preview for students the vocabulary words they will encounter in reading the sections of the diary and to acquaint them generally with their content.
  • Before Study Guide pages are assigned, questions may be selected from them to use as short quizzes to assess reading comprehension.
  • Study Guide vocabulary lists include words from the diary that vary in difficulty.

1. The vocabulary lists for each section are sufficiently comprehensive so that shorter lists of vocabulary words can be constructed from them.

2. Working from the Study Guide vocabulary lists, the teacher also may construct vocabulary studies for individual students, choosing specific words from each section that are most appropriate for them.

Discussion Questions

The discussion questions vary in degree of difficulty.

1. Some questions require higher levels of critical thinking; others engage students with less challenging inquiry.

2. Individual discussion questions may be assigned to students working in pairs or in small groups; their contributions may then be added to a whole-class discussion.

Multiple-Choice/Essay Test

Test questions also vary in degree of difficulty.

1. Some multiple-choice questions address the factual content of the diary; others require students to employ critical thinking skills, such as analyzing, comparing and contrasting, and drawing inferences.

2. The teacher may select specific multiple-choice...

(The entire section is 515 words.)

Essay and Discussion Questions

1. Why is it necessary for Anne and her family to go into hiding? What is happening to Jews in Holland and the rest of Europe during this time?

2. What makes Anne such a compelling storyteller? How does her diary invite readers to identify with her?

3. Anne’s father initially refused to authorize publication of Anne’s diary but was later persuaded to do so. Why might he not have wanted to have it published? What might have changed his mind? What do you think Anne would think of her diary being published?

4. Consider the role of those who help Anne’s family. What do you think it is like for them to take care of those in hiding? What are the dangers for them? What impulses or outside forces discourage them from helping Jews? Why do you think they do it?

5. What events—both in the Annex and in the world beyond—keep the inhabitants’ hopes alive and enable them to maintain their sense of optimism?

6. Do you think Anne is as mature as she thinks she is? In what ways does she mature? In what ways is she still a child? What sorts of responsibilities, fears, and concerns might the adults feel in hiding that Anne might not understand?

7. How is reading a first-person account different from reading about World War II in a history textbook?

8. Anne says, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Why is this a surprising statement?

9. How does Anne change over the course of her two years in hiding?

10. What are sources of comfort and hope to Anne? Where does she turn for inspiration?

11. At one point, Anne says, “I want to go on living even after my death!” How has she managed to do so? How does the survival of her narrative help people who read it?

12. At various times, Anne discusses the idea of her hidden self—the Anne that no one else knows....

(The entire section is 513 words.)

Anne’s journal entries dated June 12 – Sunday, July 5, 1942


ardor: a passion, an eagerness

blithely: casually, in a carefree manner

brooch: a piece of jewelry that is held by a pin or clasp and is worn at or near the neck

brooding: thinking anxiously or gloomily about a subject

capitulation: a surrender, a submission

conditional: uncertain, indefinite, dependent on circumstances or events

confide: to impart secrets, to disclose or reveal privately

decrees: pronouncements, laws, orders

disposition: a temperament, a mood

eminently: to a high degree, exceedingly

enamored: infatuated, smitten

guilders: basic monetary units of the Netherlands until 2002

incorrigible: unmanageable,...

(The entire section is 679 words.)

Entries dated Wednesday, July 8 – Monday, September 21, 1942


alcove: a niche, a nook

blackout screens: screens used to block out all light, making anyone unable to see through them from either direction

concentration camps: camps where particular persons (prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained and confined

conspicuous: very noticeable

dismal: depressing, miserable

distraught: distressed, upset

hypochondriac: a person suffering extreme depression that is centered on imaginary physical ailments

ignoramus: a person who is utterly without knowledge or education, a dunce

incessant: continuous, never-ending

keyed up: tense, anxious

ludicrous: absurd, ridiculous


(The entire section is 791 words.)

Entries dated Friday, September 25 – Monday, November 2, 1942


abide: to stand, to tolerate

admonitions: reprimands, reproaches

appendage: a body part (such as an arm or a leg) connected to the torso

barbaric: brutal, vicious

composure: self-control, self-possession

diffidence: a hesitancy, a shyness

inconceivable: unthinkable, unimaginable

industrious: diligent, productive

momentous: important, significant

paragon: an ideal, an epitome, an embodiment of perfection

prudish: narrow-minded; excessively attentive to manners and extreme modesty

retiring: introverted, shy, timid (referring to disposition)

saboteurs: civilian or enemy agents involved in destructive or obstructive acts...

(The entire section is 713 words.)

Entries dated Thursday, November 5, 1942 – Thursday, March 25, 1943


aboveboard: legitimate; open and honest

adamant: unwavering, resolute

aggressor: an attacker

antagonize: to provoke, to irritate

bounty: a reward, a prize

consolation: a comfort, a relief

denounced: condemned, pronounced blameworthy

derision: scorn, ridicule

dispossessed: expelled, ejected

egotistical: self-centered, arrogant

fatalistic: based on the belief that events are predetermined and beyond control

indifferent: uninterested, unconcerned

insolent: rude, disrespectful

invariably: always, consistently

lenient: compassionate, merciful

pretext: an excuse, a pretense


(The entire section is 663 words.)

Entries dated Saturday, March 27 – Monday, August 9, 1943


allotment: a portion, a ration

the Benjamin: the youngest child

clandestine: secret, concealed

Danaïdean vessel: Greek mythology an allusion to the Danaides, who were cursed in the underworld and forced to continually pour water into a leaky vessel; suggests a never-ending task that cannot be accomplished

dictates: commands, orders

dispel: to dismiss, to drive out

estimation: an assessment, an appraisal, a personal opinion

harangue: a tirade, a rant

hypocrite: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

immemorial: extending or existing since beyond the reach of memory

impertinent: disrespectful,...

(The entire section is 879 words.)

Entries dated Tuesday, August 10 – Thursday, November 11, 1943


conjectured: estimated, speculated

engrossed: absorbed, enthralled

leaden: heavy, weighty, sluggish

neurotic: anxious, irrational, phobic

oppressive: cruel, tyrannical

profanity: vulgar or crude language

reconciliation: a resolution, a restoration of friendship or harmony

spinster: an unmarried woman who is past the common age for marrying

stifling: hot; airless

tempestuous: emotional, uncontrolled, passionate

valerian: an herbal medicine with a calming effect

Study Questions

1. What is Anne’s way of coping with what she doesn’t like?

Anne believes that one should just forge...

(The entire section is 835 words.)

Entries dated Wednesday, November 17, 1943 – Wednesday, January 12, 1944


alluded: referred, made reference

bashful: shy, timid, self-conscious

beseeching: imploring, pleading

bout: an outbreak (usually of sickness); a spell of activity

chastise: reprimand, rebuke

condolences: sympathies

diligently: industriously, attentively

foisted: imposed, forced upon

impasse: a stalemate, a standoff

ironically: paradoxically, contrary to plan or expectation

magnitude: greatness, extent

mercurial: changeable, unpredictable

pomaded: coated with pomade (a greasy or waxy hair-styling substance)

reproach: rebuke

tact: discretion, delicacy

unrequited: unreciprocated, unreturned,...

(The entire section is 624 words.)

Entries dated Saturday, January 15 – Friday, February 18, 1944


agitation: anxiety, nervousness

anesthetic: a type of solution that produces numbness or a lack of feeling

blunders: mistakes, errors

curtly: abruptly, rudely

elicited: provoked, caused

fellowship: companionship, friendship

haughtiest: proudest, most arrogant

impartial: unbiased, neutral

indignation: anger and resentment provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment

indulgence: an unrestrained pleasure

Methuselah: the oldest man in the Bible

momentary: brief, temporary

preliminaries: actions or events that precede and prepare for something fuller or more important

proverbial: well-known, commonly spoken...

(The entire section is 476 words.)

Entries dated Saturday, February 19 – Tuesday, March 14, 1944


amply: thoroughly, fully

compensated: rewarded, paid

conquest: the act or state of conquering (such as capturing land during warfare)

despondent: hopeless, dejected, unhappy

feigned: pretended

impudent: rude, disrespectful

irrevocably: irreversibly, permanently

magnanimous: generous, noble

ordeals: trials, sufferings

precautionary: preventive

rambunctious: unruly, showing uncontrollable exuberance

raptures: states of ecstasy or passion

sages: those distinguished for wisdom or sound judgment

solace: comfort, consolation

wretched: miserable, pitiful, rejected

yearning: a desire, a longing


(The entire section is 560 words.)

Entries dated Thursday, March 16 – Tuesday, March 28, 1944


alienated: isolated, separated

amends: compensation, recompense

begrudge: to resent, to envy

candid: open, honest

conceited: self-important, proud, arrogant

contemptuous: scornful, sneering

crone: a withered old woman

dastardly: shameful, dishonorable

disparagingly: critically, disapprovingly

dissent: opposition, disagreement

endearing: appealing, engaging

enlighten: to inform, to clarify

forsaken: abandoned, deserted

goad: to provoke, to prod

monopoly: control, domination

regaled: delighted, entertained

surmount: to overcome, to conquer

unflagging: untiring, persistent


(The entire section is 349 words.)

Entries dated Wednesday, March 29 – Saturday, April 15, 1944


bemoan: to lament, to complain

drivel: nonsense, talk or writing that is stupid or careless

ferret: to search, to hunt

foiled: thwarted, blocked

piccalilli: a relish of chopped vegetables and spices

Study Questions

1. How does life in Amsterdam worsen during this time? What assertive actions and what destructive behaviors do the conditions prompt in the citizens?

Life is increasingly difficult in Amsterdam. There are long lines for food, theft is rampant, children are stealing anything they can find, and people are afraid to leave their homes. Anne wonders “what’s suddenly gotten into the Dutch to make them so...

(The entire section is 363 words.)

Entries dated Sunday, April 16 – Wednesday, May 10, 1944


confinement: an imprisonment, a quarantine

engulfed: immersed, submerged

epistle: a letter

mestizos: persons of mixed blood; specifically, persons of mixed European and Native American ancestry

peat: moss, compost

swindling: obtaining money or property by fraud or deceit

temperance: abstinence, restraint

transgressors: wrongdoers, offenders

Study Questions

1. What milestone takes place in Anne and Peter’s relationship? How does she feel about the event?

Peter kisses Anne for the first time. She realizes this is an important occasion (“Remember yesterday’s date, since it was a red-letter day for me....

(The entire section is 551 words.)

Entries dated Thursday, May 11 – Tuesday, June 13, 1944


abject: miserable, wretched

adage: a saying, a proverb

delusions: misbeliefs, misconceptions

dissension: opposition, disagreement

foreboding: omen or prediction of coming event, portent

laborious: strenuous, hard

merciless: cruel, pitiless

meted: gave out in measured amounts

refrain: a chorus, something that is repeated

revered: respected, admired

smitten: enamored, infatuated

Study Questions

1. What outside event is everyone eagerly awaiting? What do the residents hope this event will mean for them?

Western Europe is eagerly awaiting the Allied invasion when British, Canadian, and...

(The entire section is 560 words.)

Entries dated Friday, June 16 – Tuesday, August 1, 1944


berate: to scold, to criticize

broach: to raise a sensitive or difficult subject for discussion

deceit: dishonesty, treachery

flippancy: inappropriate or disrespectful levity or casualness

hygienic: clean, sterile, disinfected

impeccable: flawless, perfect

kindred: close, alike (often in regard to family)

meticulous: careful, scrupulous

predominates: outweighs, dominates

prescription: a designated remedy

purgatory: a place or state of temporary suffering or misery

repatriated: sent back to the country of one’s birth

reprimand: a rebuke, an admonishment

scornful: disdainful, disrespectful


(The entire section is 475 words.)


Study Questions

1. What becomes of the inhabitants of the Annex?

Someone tips off the police that Jews are hiding in the building. The authorities arrive, discover the hiding place, and arrest all eight of them. They are sent to concentration camps, where all of them perish shortly before the end of the war, with the exception of Mr. Frank.

2. What happens to the helpers?

Mr. Kugler and Mr. Kleiman are both arrested. Mr. Kleiman is released because he is ill, while Mr. Kugler manages to escape. Miep and Bep are not arrested.

3. What does the sudden end of the diary suggest about how the end came for the residents? How does the unfinished state...

(The entire section is 337 words.)

Multiple-Choice Test and Answer Key

1. When and where does Anne live during the time period covered in her diary?

A. Amsterdam, two years before World War II begins

B. Frankfurt, during World War II

C. Vienna, during World War II

D. Amsterdam, during World War II

E. Poland, during World War I

2. Before Anne goes into hiding, her personality could be described as

A. insecure.

B. shy and reserved.

C. understanding.

D. mean-spirited.

E. energetic and very social.

3. Why must Anne and her family go into hiding?


(The entire section is 1077 words.)

Essay Exam Questions With Answers

1. How does Anne change over the course of her two years in hiding? Please cite specific examples.

When the reader first meets Anne at the age of thirteen, she is a lively, social, and highly opinionated young girl. Like many girls her age, she is absorbed by her friends, thoughts of boys, school quandaries, and frivolous, happy things like birthday presents. Although the war has come to Holland, she thinks of it as little more than an inconvenience.

When she moves into the Annex, she has a suitably childlike response to it. She is intrigued by the adventure of it. After describing the physical space, she ends cheerfully with “Now I’ve introduced you to the whole of our lovely Annex!” She is caught up in the...

(The entire section is 2756 words.)