By Ashly Moore Sheldon • June 11, 2021
Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl is remarkable for many reasons. It is a first-person account of the Frank family's time in hiding during the Holocaust. Anne received the diary as a gift for her thirteenth birthday on June 12, 1929. Less than a month later, her family moved into their hiding place, concealed rooms behind a bookcase in the building where her father, Otto, worked.
During their two years in hiding, they were assisted by some of Otto's trusted employees, including his secretary, Miep Gies, who safeguarded the diary after the family was arrested. Gies documents her side of the story in Anne Frank Remembered.
After being sent to concentration camps, Anne, her mother, Edith, and her sister, Margot all perished. Only Otto survived, returning to Amsterdam after the war, where he was reunited with Gies and she gave him Anne's diary. He published it in 1947 and it has gone on to become one of the world's best-known books, translated into over 70 languages. The book has inspired many adaptations such as this graphic novel version and the movie Anne Frank—The Whole Story.
I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.
As a lonely teen in Japan, author Yoko Ogawa found kinship and inspiration when she discovered Anne Frank's diary. "Anne's heart and mind were so rich," says Ogawa. "Her diary proved that people can grow even in such a confined situation. and writing could give people freedom." Anne's story inspired Ogawa's award-winning dystopian novel The Memory Police in which her narrator is in hiding from an authoritarian government.
In Annelies, author David R. Gillham explores the question: What if Anne had survived? Set in 1945, the story centers on a sixteen-year-old Anne, reunited with her father, but mourning the loss of her mother and sister. Similarly, a novel by Jillian Cantor imagines that Anne's older sister, Margot, is the one to survive the concentration camp.
The Freedom Writers Diary is a memoir by teacher Erin Gurwell in which she describes her work with "unteachable, at-risk" students. Using both The Diary of a Young Girl and Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo as guides, she led her troubled pupils through a life-changing journey.
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Anne Frank's idealism has also undoubtedly inspired countless young people who want to make a difference. Many of us remember reading the diary for the first time and feeling awed by the simple fact that someone so young was able to make such a powerful impact. Here are some of today's kids who are speaking out and changing the world.
Ten-year-old Marley Dias launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks to bring more attention to literature featuring Black female protagonists.
An American activist and hip hop artist, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is the youth director of Earth Guardians. He has become a voice educating the world about the effects of fossil fuels on indigenous and other marginalized communities. His book describes how his music feeds his environmental activism and vice versa.
In this collection of essays, writers under the age of 30 take center stage covering a wide variety of topics they are passionate about, giving space to new voices of the next conservative generation.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai spoke out about her right to have an education. The Taliban retaliated and, when she was fifteen, she was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school. Her memoir tells of her and her family's experience fighting for the right to education.
At fifteen, Greta Thunberg rose to international prominence when she was invited to speak at the United Nations General Assembly. Her environmental activism has sparked a global youth movement. Her book is a collection of her impassioned speeches.
I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death.
In 1957, a group of people, including Anne's father, Otto, established the Anne Frank Stichting (foundation) in an effort to rescue from demolition the building where they lived while in hiding. The Anne Frank House opened in 1960 as a place of remembrance of her story. The organization also develops educational programs for young people across the world.
Otto also established the Anne Frank Fonds, a charitable foundation focused on educating young people against racism. It's wonderful that these efforts live on in Anne's name, because, despite everything, she always kept her faith in humanity and that is something we can all learn from.