Breaking Stalin’s Nose: New Curriculum for Middle Schools

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin centers around Sasha Zaichik, a ten year old boy living in Moscow with his father during Stalin’s great terror. Sasha idolizes Stalin, and is excited about his upcoming initiation into the Young Pioneers of the Communist Party. But the night before the initiation his father, a high ranking member of the secret police, is himself arrested. The narrative follows Sasha on this day, the day he has waited for his whole life, as his world is turned upside down, and he begins to question everything he has been taught. breaking-stalins-nose

To provide insight into propaganda, political culture, citizenship and everyday life in the Soviet Union, the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center has recently developed a module for middle schools around this novel. Building on the interactive website that accompanies the book, the lesson plan also invites students to consider issues around political participation and indoctrination more broadly. This module fulfills Common Core Standards ELA-LITERACY.RL. 6.1.- 6.2., ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.3 to 6-8.4, Illinois State Goals 14.c.3, 18.B.3a, and 18.B.3b.

In order to gain access to the materials, users will be asked to fill out a request form. Once the form is completed, users will be directed to the materials via a link on the form’s thank-you screen. REEEC will send any additional materials needed (films, books, etc.) at no charge. For more information please contact REEEC program coordinator Katrina Chester at For additional instructional materials and opportunities for curriculum development, please consult our page For Teachers or subscribe to our K-12 listserv at

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