Kids Books on World War II & the Holocaust

Explaining war to kids is not an easy task.  Introducing the topic by using kids books, both picture books and novels, can lead to in-depth conversations and a better understanding of the events that occurred.

Browse the recommended booklist for stories about children who experienced the events of World War 2 and the Holocaust.

 

Advanced Picture Books

Books in this group are best for ages 7+

The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco

Monique is surprised to find a young girl hiding in her basement and she learns that Sevrine can is a Jewish child hiding from the Nazis.  The two girls begin to play secretly together late at night and become friends.  Then, one day, they are spotted by a neighbor!

 

The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse & Wendy Watson

Based on a true story, a group of children plan to smuggle food to help feed the starving Jews in the Ghetto.  When the Gestapo learns of this plan, they prepare to seize the food and those trying to help.  But the quick-thinking children are able to carry out their goal with the help of the many homeless cats living in Krasinski Square.

 

The Greatest Skating Race: A WWII Story from the Netherlands by Louise Borden

A young Dutch boy learns that he must skate along the frozen canals of the Netherlands in order to guide two children to safety at their aunt's house in Belgium.  They must appear to be kids who are just out for a skate in order to safely get past the German soldiers.

 

The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust by Karen G. Ruelle

When the Nazis occupied Paris, few people were willing to risk their life in order to hide the Jewish residents.  One place where Jews could find refuge was at the Grand Mosque of Paris, where many lives were saved due to the courage of the staff.

 

Chapter Books

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

During the German occupation of Norway, some very courageous children were called upon to help the country.  Concerned that the Germans would steal the countries gold, the adults developed a plan for the children to hide the gold on their sleds in order to get it past the Germans and shipped to the United States.  Best for kids in 4th - 6th grades.

 

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto

As a social worker in Warsaw, Irena saw many suffer when the Nazis occupied the area.  She disguised herself as a nurse and began to smuggle Jewish children out of the area and to safety.  A great story of bravery.  Best for ages 9 - 11.

 

Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf

A heart-wrenching story about the children in the small village of Lidice.  Ten children were chosen for 'Germanization', a process that trains them to speak only German, forget their true identity and be adopted by German families.  This is the story of one young girl who tries desperately to cling to her identify and memories.  Best for kids in grades 5th - 8th.


The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins (Dear America series) by Walter D. Myers

The story of a 17-year-old soldier from Virginia who discusses his wartime experiences during D-Day and the battle to free France.  Scott proves to be a survivor when so many others have died.  The book provides an accurate description of battle and wartime, and is best for kids in grades 6th - 10th.

 

Non-fiction

Terezin: Voices from the Holocaust by Ruth Thomson

This book is based on first-hand accounts of those who were held at Terezin, one of the camps run by the Nazis.  Terezin was a 'show' camp where Jewish residents were told to share their talents in order to fool the world and hide the horror of gas chambers and horrible living conditions.  Best for 5th grade and older.

 

Young Adult Novels

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

Recommended for High School students, this multi-award winning story is narrated by Death as he follows Leisel during the events of WWII.  Leisel is attracted to books and begins to steal them from the oddest places.  As she does, she accumulates a peculiar but supportive set of friends along the way.  Her foster father teaches her to read and she begins to share her books with others who are experiencing the horrors of war.  An inspiring story of how books and reading can help people during times of suffering and uncertainty.