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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - Novel and Film - tasks

The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas is a novel by John Boyne. It was released in 2006. The novel was adapted to film in 2008. Here we suggest how you can work with the novel and film. There are preactivities to reading the novel and/or watching the film and tasks to do afterwards.

Utryddingsleiren Auschwitz-Birkenau 1945

Pre-reading Tasks

Auschwitz Concentration Camp
  1. The title of the novel is The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas. If you just look at the title, what do you think this novel is about?
  2. Here is a picture associated with the contents in the novel. Which ideas does it give you?
  3. Here are some words that suggest what the novel is about. Make sure that you know the meaning of the listed words. If not, use a dictionary.
    • child
    • pyjamas
    • World War II
    • concentration camp
    • fence
    • uniform
    • soldier
    • enemy
    • Germany
    • Austria
    • Jew
    • packing
    • parting
    • prisoner


The novel is adapted to film. Watch the trailer and discuss how the words above are related to the content.


Use the listed words and what you have read and seen so far and write a dialogue between the two boys that you see in the trailer.

Working with the Novel and Film

Read the first paragraph from the opening chapter of the novel and watch the opening scene of the film.

Bruno Makes a Discovery.

Bruno Makes a Discovery One afternoon, when Bruno came home from school, he was surprised to find Maria, the family's maid - who always kept her head bowed and never looked up from the carpet - standing in his bedroom, pulling all his belongings out of the wardrobe and packing them in four large wooden crates, even the things he'd hidden at the back that belonged to him and were nobody else's business. 'What are you doing?' he asked in as polite a tone as he could muster, for although he wasn't happy to come home and find someone going through his possessions, his mother had always told him that he was to treat Maria respectfully and not just imitate the way Father spoke to her. 'You take your hands off my things.'

Opening scene:


After reading the paragraph and watching the trailers:

  1. Who do you think is the main character?
  2. How are the characters presented?
  3. What is your impression of the contents of the film/novel?
  4. Which discovery do you think the main character makes?

Read an Excerpt

Here you will find the first chapter of the novel. Read it and then answer the multiple choice questions below.

Chapter 1: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Comprehension - Multiple Choice

Further Tasks and Activities

If you want to work further with the film, we recommend Film Education, [i]The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas[/i].


Make a Photo Story or Moviemaker presentation where you find pictures on the web. Search for pictures that you think might fit the characters, the setting and the plot.

Questions to Ponder

Listen to the two extracts (approx. 1 min.) made from an interview with one of the Holocaust survivors, Eva Neumann. Interview with Holocaust victim You will also find full transcriptions from the interview.

  1. Why does she think that we should always remember the Holocaust?
  2. What does she say about the message in The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas?
  3. Do you agree with her views? Give reasons for your answer.
Last updated 05/15/2017
Written by: Eli M. Huseby

Learning content

Literature after 1900

What is core content and additional content?

Subject Material

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