The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson published in 2013 is the first memoir I've read that was written by a Holocaust survivor who was saved because of Oskar Schindler. Leon was fifteen but looked like he was ten when he was sent to a concentration camp along with his family. His father and older brother had been working for Schindler, but the rest of his family was in danger. Could Schindler get their paperwork done in time to save them all?
This first person autobiography was published the year the author died, and his story is an important one. I found it interesting how he viewed racial discrimination and Jim Crow laws when he went to the Southern United States for basic training into the US military. He said, "Near the end of the training, I was transferred to a base outside Atlanta, Georgia. One weekend we received passes to to into the city. After boarding the shuttle to town, I wen to my favorite spot in the back to catch some shut-eye. I was startled when the driver stopped the bus and walked back to me. 'You can't sit there,' he said. 'The back seats are for the Negroes. You have to move to the front of the bus.' His words hit me like a hard slap. Suddenly I flashed to Krakow when the Nazis ordered us Jews to the back of the bus (before they forbade us from traveling on public transportation altogether). The context was very different, but nonetheless it almost made my head explode. Why would something like this exist in America? I had mistakenly believed that such discrimination was unique to Jews suffering under Nazi oppression. Now I discovered that there was inequality and prejudice in this country that I had already come to love" (190-191).
This book was written for young readers ages 9 to 14. The font is a bit larger and is widely spaced with plenty of white space on the page making this a good hi/low book even though the lexile is 1000L.
Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We are in need of Spanish books at this time, especially board books. We can always use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the book you donate.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.