University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

'Reading as Protection and Enlightenment in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief'

Webb, Jean ORCID: (2015) 'Reading as Protection and Enlightenment in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief'. In: Children as Readers in Children's Literature: The power of texts and the importance of reading. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 71-80. ISBN Hardback 9781138806696 Paperback 9781138806702 eBook 9781315751542

Reading as protection and enlightenment in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief.pdf - Accepted Version

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‘Reading as protection and enlightenment in Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief’ is a literary discussion of the importance of books and reading. Set in Germany prior to and during World War Two the novel focusses upon the experiences of civilians, both German and Jewish. Zusak does not attempt to explain the acts of history but rather explores how people survived emotionally as well as physically, helped by experiences associated with books and reading. The Book Thief deals with matters associated with war, childhood and the determination to survive. Zusak employs a ‘bottom-up’ approach, akin to that employed in social history, to the recounting and development of understanding of the political and social history of the period. He places the reader in the immediacy of the experience of the young girl Liesel, the daughter of Communists, who is caught up in the wider machinations of war. The chapter includes a history of the accordion in Germany for her foster-father plays to her through the night to help her overcome the trauma of death and dislocation from her family. The Book Thief is testament to reading as a form of protection and a force for enlightenment and reason.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information:

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in 'Children as Readers in Children's Literature' on October 1, 2015, available online:

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: children's literature, children as readers, literacy, books, reading
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PZ Childrens literature
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Jean Webb
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2016 14:18
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2022 14:40

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