Big Sonia

Teenage Sonia Warshawski was living in Poland when the German army invaded. Her father and brother were shot, her sister disappeared; she and her mother became slave laborers and were finally deported to a death camp. Now in her nineties, Sonia is a vibrant woman who speaks to students and prison inmates about her story of unimaginable suffering, but also of hope, of resilience, and of a refusal to hate.


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Product Description

Big Sonia is currently streaming on PBS. Watch it now and bring this powerful film to your classroom!

Film runtime: 1 hour 33 minutes.

Film rating/grade level: This film is appropriate for Grades 7 and up.

Reviews: Read the Video Librarian Big Sonia Review.

Film-Book Pairing: Many educators pair this film with Night by Elie Wiesel. 

Curriculum Guide

Lesson 1:  An Introduction to the Holocaust in Poland (Social Studies)
Lesson 2: Getting to Know the Real Sonia (English Language Arts, Film Literacy)
Lesson 3: Learning from the Past: An Oral History Assignment (Social Studies, English Language Arts)
Lesson 4: Viewing a Documentary Film (Social Studies, Film Literacy)
Lesson 5: Maladaptive Stress Response and Intergenerational Trauma (Psychology, Human Development)

Preview Curriculum Guide

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Related Resources

Big Sonia is one of six free resources in our library that feature Primary Source learning opportunities. Learn more about Teaching with Primary Sources Through Film.

Additionally, we also recently featured this film in the “news” section of our website announcing the films availability on PBS through 2025:

The Glossary of Film Terms is a valuable resource to use with the Film Literacy lessons that are part of this curriculum guide.

Sustainable Development Goals

Journeys in Film supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This curriculum guide connects to the following United Nations SDGs. Learn more about teaching with SDGs.

Magenta background. 10 in the left-hand corner. Reduced Inequalities beside the number. Central image on the magenta background is a not quite complete circle with equal marks inside. Royal blue background with white 16 in the upper left hand corner. Text beside it, white, reads: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Central image, all white, is a dove with an olive branch in its beak, legs resting on a gavel.

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