The Diary of a Young Girl by
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The Diary of a Young Girl

Among my friends and the distaff side of my family are many very accomplished women – doctors, nurses and therapists, a pharmacist and a research scientist, lawyers, two judges and a diplomat, a film editor, a TV producer and a theatrical director, several writers and artists, and a publisher and two poets.

Also among them a chef, an interior decorator, a chaplain, a rabbi and two cantors, singers and actresses, several school principals  and many master teachers.

The good all these women were doing in the world sometimes made me wonder if I was doing enough as a high school librarian in one little corner of the Bronx.  Then I’d think about the students.

One was Ana, a soft-spoken, rather shy Dominican girl who was a bit of a loner.  I never saw Ana hanging out with the popular kids, in fact she seemed to spend much of her free time in the school library.

After class she’d often call her mother from my office to ask permission to stay until the library closed.  Before she’d hang up I’d always hear her say,  “Te quiero, mama.”

Ana was a good reader and of course I encouraged her.  One day I gave her a copy of Anne Frank’s famous memoir,  The Diary of a Young Girl.  A few days later when she returned the book I asked what she thought of it.

“It’s so sad what happened to that young girl,”   Ana said,  “but she wrote in her diary that people are really good at heart and I believe that too.  And because we have the same name,  I’ll never forget her.”

Then I saw tears well up in Ana’s eyes.

That night at dinner I told my husband, “I did something good today.”

”What did you do?”, he asked.

”A student named Ana was returning her library book, and I made her cry.”,  I said.

“Why was that good?”,  my husband asked.

”Because Ana is a young Hispanic girl who lives in the south Bronx,”  I said,  “and she was crying for Anne,  a young Jewish girl who lived in an Amsterdam attic.”

”Ah yes, that was good.”,   he said,  and I saw tears well up in his eyes too.

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Books, Schools
Characterizations: moving


  1. Marian says:

    This is so touching, Dana. On a lighter note, I always was interested in library science, but because my name is Marian, I couldn’t go through with it!

  2. JeanZ says:

    The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is an essential book for any young girl to read, probably the earliest book appropriate for a child to begin to comprehend the reality of WWII and the Holocaust. It was for me surely.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Very moving, Dana. Librarians can do so much good. You connect young people to different worlds. I loved my elementary school librarian and waited eagerly for Library Period each week.

    When my younger child was in Kindergarten and 1st grade, Vicki’s teacher asked for volunteers for several subjects, including Library. I volunteered for that subject (as well as two others) every other week, so would accompany the kids to the library and re-shelve the books while the librarian read to the little ones. Very rarely, if she was very busy, she’d ask me to do the reading, which was heaven for this former theater major. She would have the book picked out, then leave me in charge of the little tykes at my feet and I would try to read in such a way that I had them rapt for the entire period. I loved it.

  4. Suzy says:

    You have many illustrious relatives and friends, Dana, but I would say that being a public school librarian in the Bronx was just as important as what they did. Your story of Ana was very touching, and I hope she really does never forget the story of Anne Frank. I think that book should be required reading for everyone.

    • Thanx Suzy!
      I know that my colleagues and I did a lot of good in that school, but we also saw many kids continue to flounder despite all.
      But the happy stories, the kids who went on to college or to good, solid jobs was it’s own reward.
      I don’t know what happened to Ana but I know the kids who read were one step closer to brighter futures.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    That was truly a good thing, Dana. Two of my granddaughters recently read The Diary of Anne Frank. One is being raised Jewish and used that quote at her Bat Mitzvah. She has also visited the Holocaust Museum and is very knowledgable about what happened. The other is being raised without religion but this opened the door to her understanding about the part of her heritage that is Jewish and also made her curious to learn more. In any case, putting that book in Ana’s hands was important work, as is being a high school librarian.

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