1-Book, 1-Akiba


One Book, One Akiba is a school-wide, 2-month event in which the Akiba community comes together to read a very special novel: The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Winner of several book awards, including the 2016 Newbery Honor, this novel is about many of the themes we care about: perseverance, believing in oneself, daring to be different, friendship, and taking children seriously. It's a book that we, and our mission, stand behind. We are confident that all of our Middle School students can read and enjoy this novel. The reading level makes it accessible and the content, while certainly difficult at times, is most rewarding and uplifting at the end. This novel has some difficult scenes, including some of child abuse and neglect, so we recommend that parents of younger children pre-read the novel before deciding if your child is ready for it. For some, this may be an opportunity to renew the warm tradition of a bedtime read aloud. For all, we trust it will be an occasion to talk deeply about important values.


Our Goals:

  • Promote reading throughout the Akiba-Schechter family
  • Inspire conversations among and within Akiba families
  • Strengthen the Akiba community by creating spaces, both physical and digital, for families to connect across age group and neighborhood 
  • Think deeply about universal themes that are reflective of our school mission and central to this novel: perseverence, believing in oneself, daring to be different, friendship, and taking children seriously
  • Expose a new perspective on a familiar time period: WWII


You should have received a special invitation in your inbox for this event. (If you haven't, email Mindy and she'll send you one.) 

1. Get the book! 

  • 57th St. Books, Hyde Park's local and independent bookstore, has agreed to stock the book behind the register for our families. If you mention Akiba-Schechter, you will get 10% off.
  • Find the book at libraries throughout the city and suburbs.
  • Purchase the book at Amazon.com or your favorite local bookstore.

2. RSVP! Let us know you want to participate by selecting "Will Attend"option in your invitation's RSVP card, and we will send you all future notices of events and discussion prompts.


We're excited to announce that we'll be hosting three digital, online discussions about The War That Saved My Life. These will be held on Thursdays, three weeks in a row, at 7:00 p.m. The dates are:

  • December 8
  • December 15
  • December 22

Each discussion will be moderated by someone different. The first discussion will be on the first 15 chapters. 

So how do you have a digital discussion?
Simply click this LINK to join our Akiba-Schechter Padlet group. This will allow you to create a username and join the discussion. All of your comments will be posted in real time, so we can chat together about the novel even as we sit at home in our PJ's. We'll be discussing the first 15 chapters next week. 

Can you do this on your phone?
Yes! Absolutely. Just scan this QR code with your phone and you'll be taken to the Padlet. 

Can I invite others?
Yes! The more, the merrier! 

Do parents and children do this together?
Your choice. Anyone with the above link can join in, so if you have two digital devices, then have at it!

What if I haven't read the first 15 chapters?
Don't worry. We're sure you have lots to say about what you have read. We want to hear it.  

How do I prepare?
We have posted a series of discussion questions to guide you through reading the first 15 chapters. Just scroll down.


What follows is a list of questions for the first 15 chapters of the novel. We hope they will provide you with starting points for rich, meaningful conversations with your child.

  1. On page 6, Ada says, "Now I'd become like Mam." In what ways? What did she mean here? And how did she respond once she had this realization?
  2. In Chapters One and Two, we read about Ada's incredibly painful process of learning to walk. Is there anything that you've wanted to do that much and had to work that hard to learn? If not, can you imagine wanting to do something that badly that you would be willing to endure so much pain? What might that be?
  3. While Ada forces herself to learn how to walk, she imagines what her mother might think of her once she sees her walking. On page 10, Ada says, "Maybe Mam would smile at me. Maybe she'd say, 'Aren't you clever, then?'" She imagines herself helping with the chores and going to school. What do you think Ada really wants?
  4. Once Ada leaves the flat, she discovers the world for the first time. Ada tells us that "[t]here was no end to the things I didn't know." (p.25)  She notices so many things we all take for granted: a city block, a toilet, grass, a pony, the ocean, crutches. What do you imagine it feels like to see these things for the first time? Can you think of a time when you noticed something for the first time? What was it?
  5. Ada lies about her injured foot to various people. Does this make her a liar?
  6. What does freedom mean? Are Ada and Jamie free when they sneak out of their mother's flat? Remember to revisit this question throughout the book.
  7. Reread pages 29-30. In what ways does the author show us that Ada and Jamie have not been well cared for? Can you find any other evidence that Ada was not taken dare of by her mother?
  8. Why were Ada and Jamie "the only ones not chosen?" (p. 32) If they had been better cared for would they have been chosen?
  9. Ada says, "I had never needed taking care of, but I decided not to say so" (p. 38). Is it true that she never needed to be taken care of? Why does she decided not to say that out loud?
  10. As Susan shows compassion, respect and care for Ada, Ada begins to question who she is and how she sees herself in the world -- her identity. How is this frightening for Ada? What did Ada mean when she said, "At home I knew who I was" (p. 58)?
  11. When talking about Miss Smith, Ada said, "She doesn't like us. She didn't want us, remember?" (p. 80) Did Miss Smith (Susan) like the kids? Did she want the kids? Why and/or why not?
  12. Ada said, "everybody thinks I'm nasty, back home. They think I'm some kind of monster" (p.81). In what ways does Ada believe these messages and internalize them? In what ways does she overcome them?
  13. On page 82, Ada cried out, "'Crutches don't change my foot!'" and "'It's still the same. It still hurts. I'm still the same!'" Why does Ada feel this way?
  14. Ada asked Susan about the meaning of freedom. Susan replied, "'I'd say it's the right to make decisions about yourself ... about your life.'" Here's this big idea about freedom again. Do you agree with Susan's definition? How would you change it?
  15. A wartime poster read: "Freedom is in peril. Defend it with all your might" (p. 86). What does this slogan mean? Does it mean something different to adults vs. children? Who is the audience for this poster?
  16. Susan lifts Ada up, empowers her, throughout the book. On page 92, she tells Ada, "'You're perfectly capable of learning. You mustn't listen to people who don't know you. Listen to what you know, yourself.'"  What are some other things Susan says or does for Ada that empowers her?
  17. How did Ada feel when she rode Margaret's horse to help Margaret get home safely? (p.98)  What's the importance or significance of horses and ponies throughout the book?


"“The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books”
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We can't wait to get lost in the world of reading with you!

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