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How do you teach the Holocaust
Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen was the Children's Laureate from 2007-2009

Stories are the secret to teaching children about upsetting events, the poet Michael Rosen told teachers at a special event in Newcastle this week.

The former Children's Laureate visited Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books, to deliver a talk to tie in with Holocaust Memorial Day.

The theme of the day this year was about listening to survivor's voices.

Michael said stories were a good way to raise tough topics because they encourage children to ask questions.

He said stories had the power to engage children more than a list of facts.

"Personal stories draw you in and make you ask questions," he said.

"Like 'Why did they have to hide him?' and 'Why do people do such terrible things?'"

Judith Kerr with children in the Seven Stories exhibition
Judith Kerr's first book was The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Nazi Germany

Michael referred to When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, by Judith Kerr, as a good example of this.

The book tells the story of Anna, a young girl who is forced to leave Germany because her father is wanted by the Nazis.

It explores themes such as oppression, persecution and displacement through a child's eyes.

It is based on Judith Kerr's own experience of having to flee Nazi Germany with her family when she was nine - because her father, a famous writer, opposed Hitler.

An exhibition on display at Seven Stories until 12 May 2010 examines the life and work of the author, who is now 86.

Fantastic centre

Michael Rosen also praised Seven Stories and the work it was doing to raise the status of children's writers and illustrators.

The children's poet and broadcaster said children's literature should be recognised as a form of art - and that the Newcastle centre was the first place this had really happened.

Original picture from a Judith Kerr book
The Judith Kerr archive is an important part of the Seven Stories collection

He said: "We don't tend to think of children's books and illustrations like art except for a few odd ones like Lewis Carroll's and Beatrix Potter's, which we then go mad over.

"But we should think of children's writing as an important art - especially as it is one that shapes every one of us and our development.

"Seven Stories is helping to give it this recognition."

The Seven Stories collection contains artwork, manuscripts and other documents connected to British children's books from 1930s to the present day.

Some of Michael's own manuscripts and drafts of poems are preserved in it.

Find out more on the Seven Stories website.

Find out more about Michael Rosen here.

Watch Michael Rosen performing some of his poems here.

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