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Russian Revolution books/pre-reads for Animal Farm


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Sorry, I can't help myself. Why would you want a useless book? :D


Thats what I get for trying to get kiddo fed while having him memorize the 23 helping verbs, while composing a letter to my 91 year old cousin, while getting showered and dressed to get out the door to moonlight today while getting the boys shoehorned into the car to make it to the Messiah in the city today, and packing potluck food I have to take with me while I pick up a Fed Ex package on the way to the potluck after work -- all while researching next month's read-aloud. :D

Edited by kalanamak
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  • 2 weeks later...
Personally, I think it would be much better to read about the Russian Revolution after reading Animal Farm. Otherwise the novella is likely to seem overly-obvious and will diminish from the universality of the message.




I disagree; it is by maintaining a fair grasp of the Soviet Period (remember Animal Farm speaks to much more than simply the Russian Revolution) that one sees much of what Orwell was saying.


The banning of Beasts of England, the exile of Snowball, allegations of sabotage, dealing with human farmers, rationing....all of this is made more forceful through an understanding of the Soviet Period. If your child does not know the history then it is simply an enjoyable book, and when a child does study the history many of the nuances of the book will be lost.


As to books, I might actually suggest film instead. There are many History Channel programs that tell the story of various parts of the Soviet Period well.


Do a section on the man made famine as this makes descriptions of food appropriations and the starving of animals more understandable.


Another section on Soviet Trade with the outside world and how this was hidden from the people works well.


Look to Trotsky and his work on behalf of the Revolution followed by his exile and eventual murder to make the Snowball episode more understandable.


Talk about the pleasure palaces of the likes of Stalin and Beria when you look at how the pigs adopt the trappings of humans.


Discuss Soviet law and the Soviet Constitutions and show how they were not worth the paper they were written on if you want to examine the way that the law for animals was changed.


Study the Soviet Period first or you miss so very much.



As to books, most of those I could suggest would be for older children or adults.


One book that is fascinating and also works well with a study of Animal Farm is The Commissar Vanishes by David King which shows how people were removed from history and photographs. It is a visual depiction of Lenin's maxim that "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

Edited by pqr
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There is very little written on the Russian Revolution for kids. It usually comes as a short section in a larger history book.


You might come at it from the perspective of biographies of Lenin or the Romanovs.


There are several books listed on Amazon that you might search your library for...search RR and then on the left select books -> children's.


There is an old Horizon Caravel book on the the RR by Halliday, there is a DK book on Russia, and there was this thread-but the books appear to be for a bit older crowd.


There is also a neat book Lost Tales: Stories for the Tsar's Children. An interesting depiction of life before and during the revolution.

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One of my favorite books for 3rd or 4th graders takes place in Czarist Russia. It is "In Place of Katya". It is OOP, but you might find it in a library. It conveys the state of things before the revolution, and the impetus toward revolt, very well. It also talks about an early attempt at a peasant revolt, and that can serve somewhat as a model for what follows.


For older children (maybe 7th grade and up), I recommend the Marrin book "Stalin".


Also, in general, there is a Miriam Greenblatt bio of Peter the Great that would work for grades 3-6 or so, although that is more background and not so directly relevant.

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What about Horrible Histories Rowdy Revolutions book or Horrible Histories Rowdy Revolutions: Russia magazine? You would have to buy it used, but it looks like some exist still. The magazine would be full color. The books tend to be black and white, but have cartoony illustrations throughout.

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For a historical fiction children's book, Breaking Stalin's Nose,looked good. It is about a 10 year old growing up in Stalin's USSR and how he realizes all is not as good as it seems. It might have just come out, I saw it in the "new books" shelf in the library last week.

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You could read the sixth book in the Freddy the Pig series. It predates "Animal Farm" by ten years, but is very similiar to that book.





My kids were big fans of Freddy the pig earlier this year. :)


I found a article comparing the two books.



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