Should I take kids to the Anne Frank House?

Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam and worried about taking young children to the Anne Frank exhibit? I understand your concerns, as I was in your shoes very recently with my own children. I’m here to guide you on how to make the most of the visit while bringing your children along. I’ll help you determine if you should take the kids to the Anne Frank House.

On our recent trip to Amsterdam, I was determined to visit the home of the Frank Family and see firsthand the small quarters where they hid from the Nazis in WWII. I knew it would be tricky with the kids, as my youngest was six at the time. My other two were nine and almost 12.

Although it was a sobering moment, my older two boys will never forget what they learned at the Anne Frank house and will carry that visit with them forever. As my youngest ages and learns more about the Holocaust in school, she will be able to make real connections.

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Is it a good idea to bring kids to the Anne Frank House?

So, to get to the burning question of the day, do you think bringing your young children to the site with Anne Frank hid for years is a good idea? The actual museum suggests 10 and up, but we recently took our 6, 9 and 12 year olds.

In full disclosure, I teach high school US History, so my kids are probably introduced to heavier topics than other kids. Right now, many in the US are trying to soften or downplay the upsetting parts of history, and I strongly disagree. It is dangerous to avoid talking about historical events such as the Holocaust, and we are doing a major disservice to our future generations. 

At the same time, there are age-appropriate ways to address tough issues with your kids. First, with my older boys, we have found great resources in kid novels—books written to educate but not in a scary and adult manner.

Anne Frank House entrance for guests

entrance to the Anne Frank House

My husband and I are also intentional and thoughtful with the words we use to explain a tough issue to our kids. I know this can be daunting, especially if you aren’t super familiar with the details of WWII & the Holocaust. 

My advice as a mom & history teacher-

  • Do a little research on your own
  • Make sure you understand the story of Anne Frank, the Holocaust, and the significance of concentration camps
  • Read The Diary of Anne Frank before your visit or read a summary of her story on the museum’s website 
  • Before you talk to your kids, craft a script or have an idea of what you are going to say
  • Prep your children before you enter with a basic explanation at least
  • On the official website, you can take an interactive tour of the house. If you are worried about your kids, go through the tour with them so there are NO surprises. 
  • The website also provides a video explaining Anne’s story to children. Watch this before you arrive.
  • After you finish, follow up with your kids and see if they have any additional questions. I would focus on Anne’s bravery during WWII and her incredible strength. Also, go do a kid-friendly activity that is light and care free. Maybe try a canal ride, visit a flower market or create your own stroopwaffel.
views of Amsterdam

WWII Books for Children

If your kids enjoy reading, have them check out some novels on WWII before your trip. These books are geared at teaching young people the subject matter but in an age-appropriate manner. This is a great way to prepare young visitors for the trip and introduce Anne’s life to them. I’m suggesting a wide range of books to help with various reading levels and interests.

WWII Books for Adults

If you enjoy reading, you can expand your knowledge of the topic through historical nonfiction and fiction books. My husband and I enjoy reading about this time, so I wanted to share our favorites. These can help you gain a better understanding of the time period. As for mini-series, I can’t recommend HBO’s Band of Brothers enough.

How to Explain Anne Frank’s story to Young Kids

As mentioned earlier, our six-year-old was on the trip, and in hindsight, I didn’t do a great job of prepping her before our museum visit. I kept her with me throughout the visit, and she requested her own audio guide. Quickly, she looked at me and whispered, “This is a sad story, mama.”

I immediately had to pivot and explain to her what happened in 6-year-old terms. The audio tour known as “Anne’s Story” is geared for youth ages 10-15. My youngest eventually stopped listening but my older children continued throughout the tour.

In basic terms, I told her that Anne and their family were hiding from bad guys. I didn’t get into too many specifics of the persecution of the Jews. Still, I did say the bad guys didn’t like her religion, and there was no discussion of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where Anne was eventually sent.

streets of Amsterdam

Most importantly, we focused on the goodness of the people who helped to hide Anne, her parents, sister, and the Van Pels family. I also introduced the concept of the good guys who came to defeat the bad guys. My grandfathers, as well as one of my husband’s grandfathers, fought in WWII. Once, I said Grandpa’s dad was a “good guy” who helped defeat the bad guys. This personalized her experience and helped her understand a little more. 

Pro Tip: Keep it simple for younger children

 Should a 6-year-old go? This is an important question that each family has to decide for themselves. As I mentioned, my kids are taught more history than typical kids. Also, my youngest has two oldest siblings, which is also a factor. She’s also very empathic and cares for others, so the story touched her more than my oldest would have at 6. Eight-ten is probably a good minimum age for kids if you are nervous about the content. 

My older kids had no trouble with the content and were intrigued by the story of the secret annex. The tour includes an audio tour, which was ideal for my two older kids. This was their second European vacation, so they were familiar with audio guides and had no problem going through the tour independently. They also have a basic understanding of the Second World War, which helped make this the most enriching experience for Amsterdam.

Check out my review on our favorite Amsterdam hotel by clicking HERE!

yes, you should take kids to the Anne Frank House

Tips on visiting the Anne Frank Home with Kids

Visiting this site has some nuances and isn’t as easy as other historical sites in Amsterdam. Most importantly, tickets are some of the hardest to come by. You can’t wait to buy tickets. 

Tickets

  • Only sold online and not at the door on the official website 
  • pay with a credit card- no cash
  • you must have an admission ticket for each person to enter 
  • you sign up for a specific time slot
  • ​tickets can be bought six weeks in advance. The window opens on a Tuesday, so set a reminder. Trust me- the tickets go fast!
  • aim for tickets close to opening time. Avoid the afternoon when kids are a little more restless.
  • Anne Frank House is opened daily

The tour

  • grab one of the free audio guides for each member of your group
  • you will enter some very small rooms, so remind your kids to be aware of others around them
  • there’s a set of very steep stairs- if you have little ones, make sure to hold their hands
  • kids can see a copy of the famous diary towards the end of the tour
  • there’s an old part of the Museum that shows the rooms her family hid in as well as a modern part of the Museum with more educational information about World War II 

Other helpful Info for Anne Frank’s House 

  • there’s a great Museum Cafe at the end of the tour 
  • The museum shop has a small but great collection of books for children and youth 
  • there’s a great exhibit for older kids at the end of the tour that explains the history of the period plus a video on the rise of dictators (in cartoon form)
a guide to taking kids to the Anne Frank House

FAQ: Visiting Amsterdam

Is Anne Frank House good for kids?

The exhibit is a moving experience, but it is also sad. Each parent needs to decided if it is the right timing for their family. The Museum suggest 10 as the minimum age, but my 9 year old handled it well.

Is it worth going to Anne Frank House?

Yes, it is completely worth it and you should carve out time during your next trip.

How much time do you need at Anne Frank House?

I would say an hour minimum, but you may want more if you enjoy throughly reading the exhibit material.

Can you visit the Secret Annex?

Yes, it is part of the tour. FYI- all the furniture is gone. When Anne’s father returned after the war, he did away with the furnishings.

In Conclusion: Should I take kids to the Anne Frank House?

I think it is important for young people to learn the story of Anne Frank and visiting her house is one of the most powerful educational experiences. I hope my guide on taking kids to the Anne Frank House helped you make the best decision for your family.

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Should you take kids to the Anne Frank House?