Review: Zlata's Diary

Zlata's Diary Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipović
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was one of the choice books that our English department decided to offer students as part of our nonfiction narrative unit. Since I had never read it, I decided to read it along with my literature circle group. I liked the book. Zlata is a bubbly adolescent and I admire her ability to remain so even in the face war and hardship.

In terms of our big question - How do people respond to and overcome challenges? - Zlata's Diary generated a lot of great discussion amongst my literature group. Many of my students were able to connect with Zlata and imagine themselves in her shoes. They found the diary to be easy to read and they were able to make some great connections between it and some of the other pieces we read.

My only criticism of the book is its lack of context. I was around Zlata's age in the 1990's and remember hearing about the conflict in Sarevjo, but being a child myself, I didn't pay much attention. My students, of course, were born well after this conflict and had no real knowledge to work from. I wish the book had a forward or introduction that provided a bit of information on the conflict so that it was easier to understand the narrative in context. There are, of course, other resources out there, but finding ones that are simplistic enough for middle schoolers and accessible to a wide range of reading levels is challenging. It would have been nice to have something as part of the published work to use, especially since it has been so many years.

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