Prisoner B-3087 Teaching Ideas

Prisoner B-3087 Teaching Ideas

Alan Gratz is at his best when he writes historical fiction. Prisoner B-3087 is no exception. The novel is a rare treat!

Ten-year-old Yanek entertains his family with an after-dinner light show when the Germans invade his hometown of Kraków, Poland. Days later a wall is built forming the Jewish ghetto. After this, a series of rules changes Yanek’s life. No school for Jews. – His father’s business is taken. – Food is rationed. – A curfew is set. – Jews are deported both to concentration camps and into the Jewish ghetto. Yanek’s family must share their apartment with three other families. Yanek must work in a tailor’s shop.

When Yanek turns 13, he and his father sneak out to an abandoned building to give Yanek a secret bar mitzvah ceremony. Soon afterward, Yanek sees his parents being deported. Yanek decides to keep working at the tailor shop in hopes of not being deported. This, however, is the very reason he is taken. Tailors are needed at the concentration camp. Yanek lives through ten concentration camps and two death marches over the next three years.

FREE Teaching Ideas to use with Prisoner B-3087

Activity #1 Book Trailer

Watch the book trailer. This makes a great hook activity for the novel. 

Activity #2 Animated Maps

The Holocaust Encyclopedia provides a whole series of videos in a section titles Animated Maps. This six-minute video titled World War II and the Holocaust gives a great overview of the Holocaust.    

Activity #3 Real Characters

Prisoner B-3087 is a fictional book based on the life of Jack Gruener. Because the book is based on a real person, some of the other characters in the story were based on real people as well. Have students do a little reach to find out about these characters/real people.

  • Amon Goeth – Commandant of Kraków-Płaszów Concentration Camp
  • Josef Mengele – cruel staff doctor at Auschwitz
  • Ilse Koch (the Witch of Buchenwald) – Buchenwald Camp commandant’s wife

Activity #4 Teacher Resources on the Holocaust

 Activity #5 Holocaust Literature

Read more books that center around the Holocaust.


  • Erika’s Story by Ruth Vander Zee
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Odin’s Promise by Sandy Brehl
  • Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
  • In My Hands” Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke and Jennifer Armstrong
  • The Girl in the Green Sweater by Krystyna Chiger and Daniel Paisner
  • The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Grade 9 up)

    Great Books to Compare and Contrast

  • Edith’s Story: The True Story of How One Young Girl Survived World War II by Edith Velmans and Hester Velmans
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank


  • Women Heroes of World War II: 36 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue
    by Kathryn J. Atwood


Activity #6 Free Samples from Prisoner B-3087 Book Unit

If you would like to try out the Prisoner B-3087 Book Unit before you buy it, this download contains free samples for Chapters 1-2.

Free Samples of Prisoner B-3087 Book Unit

Prisoner B-3087 contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook. Vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and skill practice are all included. In addition to the printables, many paperless options are provided. Activities for Google Slides include writing and skill practice. Boom Learning Decks make this an interactive unit.

Gay Miller


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