Reading Club: Children’s Book | Erika’s Story - Εικόνα

SNFCC’s Book Club for Children renews its appointment for January, facilitated by theater pedagogue Artemis Manou, and also available online!  

January’s meeting will be discussing Ruth Vander Zee’s Erika's Story.

On Sunday, January 23, young readers will meet at the Book Castle to share impressions, feelings and thoughts, as well as to embark on an imaginary journey, sparked by the book of the month, into the fascinating worlds emerging from its pages.

January’s meeting will also take place online via Zoom on Saturday, January 29. 

The book:
“I was born sometime in 1944.  
I do not know my birthdate. 
I do not know my birth name. 
I do not know in what city or country I was born. 
I do not know if I had brothers or sisters. 
What I do know is that when I was just a few months old, I was saved from the Holocaust.”

A desperate mother, crammed in a train wagon, throws her child of only a few months out the window of the train that is taking her and dozens of other people to a concentration camp. 

Whatever happened to that baby? Did it manage to survive? What is a concentration camp? What can possibly lead a mother to throw her child out a train window, abandoning it forever? What is the Holocaust? These and many other questions will be discussed at the January Children’s Book Club meeting, in light of the true story of this Erika, a girl that the writer happened to meet when the former was a grown woman, fifty years after the end of World War II.

Ruth Vander Zee’s words, together with Roberto Innocenti’s remarkable illustrations – much like old, processed photographs – invite us to remember, through Erika’s story, all the people who were lost in the Holocaust. In what other ways can we remember them? Let’s think about that together.

The author:
Ruth Vander Zee
was born in Chicago, USA, and grew up in a house filled with the stories told by her father. She received her college degree in Education and worked as a high-school teacher for several years, before deciding to take up writing professionally. Erika’s Story is her first book and has been translated into many languages. She writes stories about children who go through their lives with strength, courage and hope. 

The facilitator:
Artemis Manou holds a BA in Greek Language and Literature (Linguistics major) from the University of Athens and an MA in Teaching Greek as a Foreign/Second Language. In addition, she has graduated from the Drama School of Vassilis Diamantopoulos. After working for a few years in private education and as an actress, since 2009 she has been combining her love of theater and children, working as a motivational speaker and a theater director. She has co-operated with Onassis Stegi at the Youth Theater Festival, where she wrote theatrical plays and directed performances for teenagers, and at the experiential learning program “Contemporary Art: First you live... then you understand” that Onassis Stegi carried out in primary schools, where she organized workshops for creative expression on contemporary art stimuli together with Tzeni Argyriou, Andreas Kasapis and Myrto Tikof. Since 2017, she has been working at the National Theatre, facilitating workshops for children, teenagers and educators. She has authored a total of 15 plays for teens. A special place in her heart belongs to the National Theatre's program “Theater in Greek," with the participation of Greek and refugee teenagers. The theatrical play The Journey, which she co-authored with Vangelis Kyriakou, was included in the repertoire of the National Theatre Young People's Stage in 2018. She was born and lives in Athens. But she dreams of living in many other places too – together with her family. 

Activities for children before the Book Club meeting:
Engage in one or more of the following activities, whichever you find inspiring!

- In the book that you read, we “hear” the voice of Erika asking dozens of questions regarding her mother. Now, if we assume that Erika’s mother had the opportunity to write a letter to her daughter, what do you think she would write to her? The letter may start like this: 

“My beloved child,
Since that day when I let you go from my arms...”

- January 27th is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. After reading the text titled “For you, the reader of this book,” create a short biography card for one of these children who were lost in the Holocaust, using real facts, elements of that time, and your imagination. On one side of the card, find and attach a picture of how you imagine the child (you may find photos from magazines, or online, or draw a picture yourself, inspired by the book’s illustrations). On the other side, write as much as you can about the child’s life (name, favorite song, favorite pastime, favorite food, clothes he/she wore on the day they were separated from their previous lives, what they missed the most while at the camp, and any other information you would like to know). 

- Listen to Nicola Piovani’s song “La vita è bella” a few times (it was written for Roberto Benigni’s 1997 film Life Is Beautiful); then write some lyrics on it, inspired by Erika’s Story and the Holocaust children.

- “On her way to death, my mother threw me to life,” says Erika. Does the story of a mother leaving or putting her child at risk to avoid a greater danger remind you of something that is happening in our world nowadays? Perhaps a similar story? If so, paint a picture about it.


Sunday, Jan. 23 | 17:00–18:15 

Up to 22 participants | For children aged 7 to 10
Free participation by online pre-registration

Pre-registration for 23/01 starts on Friday 07/01

Saturday, Jan. 29 | 17:00–18:00

Up to 30 participants | For children aged 7 to 10
Free participation by online pre-registration

Pre-registration for 29/01 starts on Friday 07/01

Moderator: Artemis Manou

Anyone reserving a seat at the Book Club is required to have read the book of the month..

The Greek edition of Ruth Vander Zee’s Erika’s Story is available from Kaleidoscope Publications. 

For the entry of the public in the activity area, the minors from 4 to 17 years old can present, a statement of negative self test (24 hours), a certificate of diagnostic test PCR (72 hours) or rapid (48 hours), according to the latest provisions of the Joint Ministerial Decision.

The use of face mask and social distancing measures are mandatory in indoor and outdoor areas of the SNFCC, in accordance with Hellenic National Public Health Organization regulations. 

Due to public health measures, there may be changes regarding either the staging of the event, or the maximum number of participants.

Children should always be accompanied by parents or adult chaperones, who should stay outside the activity area for as long as the activity lasts.

As part of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center's collaboration with the National Library of Greece, the children's book for December's Reading Club has been chosen by NLG staff members

See also

Saturday 13/04, 15:00

Kayaking the Canal


Monday 08/04, 21:00

WOW Sounds: Hania Rani


Sunday 07/04, 21:15

Prima Facie by Suzie Miller | Staged reading of selected scenes