Blackout Poetry with The Book Thief

In The Book Thief, Max takes Hitler’s memoir Mein Kampf, white washes the pages and from that creates something beautiful.  Through this lesson plan, students have the opportunity to do the same.

As my roommate said as we were doing this together, “I’m taking Hitler’s words, reducing it down to 10%, and now it’s so much better!”

Mine’s about zombies. Teehee.

Blackout Poetry-1 Blackout Poetry-2 Blackout Poetry-3

Lesson plan after the jump.


CCSSI.ELA.11-12.W.3 – Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


After creating blackout poetry using pages of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, students will make text-to-self connections and understand how one can take something ugly and create something beautiful.

Materials, Resources and Technology

  • Projector or SmartBoard
  • Access to videos such as those found at Know Your Meme
  • Printouts from Hitler’s Mein Kampf  (Although the entire book is highly offensive, some pages may affect students more than others.  Use caution when choosing which pages to provide to students for this activity.)
  • Black markers, preferably Sharpies

Instructional Procedures

  1. Students will watch one of many potential Der Untergang parody videos, available at Know Your Meme.  (Be sure to check for inappropriate language.)  Students will discuss why this meme became popular, and how it is successful.
  2. After completing the “hook” activity, students will discuss the mini-book “Standover Man” found in The Book Thief. (How does Max create his book?  Why might this be considered ironic? How does Max’s use of Mein Kampf re-order the hierarchy of power between him and Der Führer, albeit briefly?)
  3. Students will view examples of “blackout poetry” found on the web and discuss how they are created. (To what extent does the second author have power over the original author? How does this form of expression compare to Max’s “Standover Man”?)
  4. Students will use printouts from Hitler’s Mein Kampf to create blackout poetry.  Extra copies will be provided to students who finish early.  Students will then share their creations with the class.


Students will be informally assessed on their ability to make text-to-self connections through a creative activity.


ELL students can use pages from Mein Kampf translated into their native languages. (For instance, in Spanish.)

Download of lesson plan: CMonson Blackout Poetry Lesson Plan


One thought on “Blackout Poetry with The Book Thief

  1. I. Want. To do. This. Activity!

    Looks like so much fun and can lead into so much discussion about language – this is something I’ll have to try and work into the curriculum this year. Thanks so much for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s