On My Bookshelf: The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

September 16, 2019

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson is a memoir that recounts the authors experiences during the Holocaust, first in the Krakow ghetto and then in a concentration camp. Leon survived largely because  he and his family were lucky enough to work for Oskar Schindler. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s list child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow.

Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s list.

Told with an abundance of dignity and a remarkable lack of rancor and venom, The Boy on the Wooden Box is a legacy of hope, a memoir unlike anything you’ve ever read.


The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson is a memoir that recounts the authors experiences during the Holocaust, first in the Krakow ghetto and then in a concentration camp. Leon survived largely because  he and his family were lucky enough to work for Oskar Schindler. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: I am a HUGE fan of Holocaust literature and find the story of Schindler's list absolutely amazing, so I wasn't surprised when I couldn't put The Boy on the Wooden Box down.

I loved the stories from Leon's childhood in Narewka and later in Krakow after his family relocates for his father's job. I was also amazed by the risks he took to remain with his family and his general bravery in the face of constant danger and potentially death.

Classroom application: I would recommend this memoir for middle school and up. I used it this year in sixth grade as a choice for literature circles. All six of our choices tied in to the theme "decisions that matter" and were set during the Holocaust and WWII.

The memoir would also be an excellent replacement for Night by Elie Wiesel. Leon's early life is more relatable to students and overall, the memoir is less dark and depressing.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Boy on the Wooden Box for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson is a memoir that recounts the authors experiences during the Holocaust, first in the Krakow ghetto and then in a concentration camp. Leon survived largely because  he and his family were lucky enough to work for Oskar Schindler. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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