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. – Germans deport Jews to concentration camps and 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. Germans want tailors at the concentration camp. Yanek lives through ten concentration camps and two death marches over the next three years.

Prisoner B-3087 Activities

Book Unit Samples


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




Teaching Idea #1  – The Movie Trailer 

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



Teaching Idea #2  – Holocaust Encyclopedia  


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



Teaching Idea #3  – Characters Based on Real People 


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

Teaching Idea #4  – On the Web



Teaching Idea #5  – Charts

Extermination Camps

Camp Name Killed
Auschwitz II 1,000,000
Belzec 600,000
Chełmno 320,000
Jasenovac 58–97,000
Majdanek 360,000
Maly Trostinets 65,000
Sobibór 250,000
Treblinka 870,000

Concentration Camps

An estimated eleven million people were killed during the Holocaust. Hitler’s plan was to eliminate any population of people he felt was inferior.

Victims Killed
Slavs 10.547 million
Jews 5.9 million
Soviet POWs 2–3 million
Ethnic Poles 1.8–2 million
Romani 220,000–1,500,000
Disabled 200,000–250,000
Freemasons 80,000–200,000
Slovenes 20,000–25,000
Homosexuals 5,000–15,000
Jehovah’s Witnesses 2,500–5,000
Spanish Republicans 7000


Teaching Idea #6  – 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


See the product that inspired this post.

Prisoner B-3087 Novel Study

Prisoner B-3087 Novel Study: Digital + Printable Book Unit includes vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.  




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