The Holocaust is such a difficult topic to teach to children, and yet so important. These books help children become familiar with the Holocaust in a gentle way.
Miep and the Most Famous Diary: The Woman Who Rescued Anne Frank’s Diary by Meeg Pincus
This is a moving, inspiring, and beautifully sorrowful telling of the story of Anne Frank through Miep’s eyes, based on her own first-hand account. Highly recommend!
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
Based on a real event, this is a fictional account of a Danish town that helped guide a Jewish family to safety during the Holocaust.
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy
As the title says, this story is a legend; it is unknown whether the events in the story actually took place. The story, however, is a beautiful representation of the kind of courage and compassion that the Danish people truly demonstrated during World War II. It is about how beloved King Christian selflessly defied the Nazis and stood with his Jewish subjects. This is one of my favorite WWII stories.
The Harmonica by Tony Johnston
The story of how a young Jewish boy uses music to cling to hope and help others do the same. Based on the true story of a concentration camp survivor, Henryk Rosmaryn. While heartbreaking and raw, it is also beautiful and inspiring. Beautifully written with beautiful illustrations to match.
Bartali’s Bicycle: The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s Secret Hero by Megan Hoyt
This is an amazing true story about bicyclist Gino Bartali who used his speed and fame to help with the resistance during WWII. Bartali helped save over 800 Jews in Italy through his efforts. This is a fantastic story appropriate for all ages. I’d consider it a must-read!
Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II by Marisabina Russo
This is a true account of a Jewish family’s experiences in Germany during WWII, told by a grandmother to her granddaughter. There is some heavy material here – Kristallnacht and concentration camps are mentioned, though not in much detail – you may want to preview the story before reading it to young or sensitive children. I thought it was a very good window into what life was like for Jewish families during the war.
Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto By Susan Goldman Rubin
An account of Irena Sendler and the hundreds of Jewish children that she managed to hide from the Germans during the occupation of Poland. This story shares a lot of tragic details about the way children had to part from their families in order to be saved, and disturbing events, such as the way Irena was tortured by the Germans when she was caught, so you may want to preview the book before sharing it with your children. Definitely a worthwhile read.
Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen as told to Michelle R. McCann by Luba Tryszynska-Frederick
This is an amazing true story of a woman who went to great lengths at her own peril to save orphaned children in Bergen-Belsen. This story is deeply moving and inspiring but also heavy because of the terrible realities of the war. It recounts children being taken from their parents and being left in the woods to die, and gives details about the starvation and hardships experienced by the prisoners of Bergen-Belsen. I highly highly recommend this beautiful story, but exercise caution with young readers who might find it too disturbing. My sensitive seven-year-old handled it just fine, however.
Star of Fear, Star of Hope by Jo Hoestlandt
As a rule, I only include books on my book lists that I really like. I’m breaking the rule with this one. While it is interesting and well-written, I do not like this book. I don’t like it because it’s sad and painful, but I’m including it because I think that is exactly why it is valuable to a study of the Holocaust. This is the story about a young girl who loses her best friend to the Nazis, never to see or hear from her again. She never learns what has become of her. There is no happy ending here. It is sad with no real redemption, which mimics the reality, in a very small measure, of so much of the Holocaust.
Anne Frank by Josephine Poole
This is the only picture book I have seen that really explains why Hitler targeted the Jews and how he was able to convince others to hate them as well. This is an excellent story about Anne’s life and experience in hiding, in a condensed picture-book form. It is tragic, of course, but touches the horrors of the Holocaust lightly enough to keep the book appropriate for young children. Highly recommend!
The Promise by Pnina Bat-Zvi and Margie Wolfe
This is the true story of two sisters who helped each other survive Aushwitz. The story is sad and talks about life in a concentration camp, but with a light tough that keeps it suitable for young children.
The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank by David Lee Miller
Tells the story of Anne in hiding through the point of view of the cat that lived in the Annex with her. This is a great book for young, sensitive children because the story is warm and upbeat in tone, but still effective at introducing the difficult subject of the Holocaust.
Nicky and Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued by Peter Sis
This is the true story of a young man who helped over 600 Jewish children escape from Czechoslovakia to the safety of London during the Nazi occupation.
Francesco Tirelli’s Ice Cream Shop by Tamar Meir
This is the sweet story of a man who hid Jews in his ice cream shop in Hungary to shield them from the Nazi’s.