The Boy on the Wooden Box
Written by Leon Leyson, With Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson
Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory-a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.
This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s List child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Most notable is the lack of rancor, the lack of venom, and the abundance of dignity in Mr. Leyson’s telling. The Boy on the Wooden Box is a legacy of hope, a memoir unlike anything you’ve ever read.
Primary Source Pairing:
The story of Leon Leyson is one that will not soon leave you once you have finished reading it. Despite the horrific realities of the Holocaust, Leyson’s memoir has an undercurrent of hope. For this primary source pairing, invite students to analyze a page of Schilder’s List. Also, encourage students to study the primary source images included in the book. Tread lightly when using primary source photographs from the Holocaust as many graphically depict starvation, death, and devastation. These specific images could be included in a book study format where students have the safety and time to process the images with adult guidance.
Questions for Discussion:
- Describe what you see.
- What do you notice first?
- How much of the text can you read? What does it say?
- What do you see that looks strange or unfamiliar?
- How are the words arranged?
- What do you notice about the page the writing appears on?
- What do you see on the page besides writing?
- What other details can you see?
- Why do you think this manuscript was made?
- What do you think was happening when it was created?
- What tools and materials were used to create it?
- What can you learn from examining this?
- If someone created something like this today, what would be different? What would be the same?
Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Schlinder’s List Page: Express.co.uk