Books for Families about the Holocaust

The following list of quality books is recommended for parents who wish to teach their children about the Holocaust. While we do not send books about the Holocaust to PJ Library subscribers, we respect the fact that many families will choose to educate their children on this topic in their own way and time.

These books are appropriate for children of varying ages; however, only you will know if they are appropriate for your child(ren). We strongly recommend that you first read any book alone in order to gauge whether it is the right book to spark discussion and questions.

PLEASE NOTE: The descriptions of the books below are offered by their respective publishers. They are not meant to be considered reviews.

 

Where to Begin


Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II
By Marisabina Russo

Rachel's Oma (grandmother) has two picture albums. In one, the photographs show only happy times following World War II, when she and her daughters had come to America. But the other album includes much sadder times, when their life in Germany was destroyed by the Nazis' rise to power. For as long as Rachel can remember, Oma had closed the second album when she had gotten to the sad parts. Today, however, Oma will share it all. Today, Rachel will hear about what her grandmother, her mother, and her aunts endured.

Benno and the Night of Broken Glass
By Meg Wiviott

Using the fictionalized viewpoint of a cat, Benno, it shows what happened to families in one Berlin community. Benno feels welcome in many homes and stores, and he likes following a Jewish girl, Sophie, and her Christian friend to school everyday. Then everything changes, and the neighborhood is no longer friendly. Benno cowers as terrifying men in brown shirts light bonfires, and then there is a night "like no other," during which Benno hears screams and shattering glass, and he watches apartments being ravaged and the synagogue burn. The next day, life continues for some, but Benno never sees others again, including Sophie and her family. The unframed, double-page spreads, created with a mix of collage, drawings, and digital montage, show the warm neighborhood transformed as red flames take over, books fly, and soldiers march in black boots with razor-edged soles. A brief afterword and bibliography add more information and historical context.

The Butterfly
By Patricia Polacco

Ever since the Nazis marched into Monique's small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her, until the night Monique encounters "the little ghost" sitting at the end of her bed. She turns out to be a girl named Sevrine, who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique's basement. Playing after dark, the two become friends, until, in a terrifying moment, they are discovered, sending both of their families into a nighttime flight.
PJ Note: Contains no images of concentration camps nor of people being killed or having been killed. It does, however, contain images of Jews being rounded up on trains.

Elisabeth
By Claire A. Nivola

Forced to flee the Nazis, a young girl and her family eventually end up in the United States where, years later, with a young daughter of her own, she is improbably reunited with the beloved doll she left behind in Germany.
PJ Note: Contains no images of concentration camps nor of people being killed or having been killed. It does, however, contain one image of patrolling Nazi soldiers.

Francesco Tirelli's Ice Cream Shop
By Tamar Meir

Francesco Tirelli loved to eat gelato from his uncle's cart. So when he moves from Italy to Hungary, Francesco decides to open his own ice cream store. There young Peter learns to love ice cream as much as Francesco did. But when the war comes and Francesco closes his shop for the winter, he uses the shop for a special purpose—to hide his Jewish friends and neighbors from danger. The winter is long and dark in the ice cream shop, and young Peter longs to celebrate Hanukkah. Will he find a way? Based on a true story.

The Lily Cupboard
By Shulamith Levey Oppenheim

Miriam, a young Jewish girl, is forced to leave her parents and hide with strangers in the country during the German occupation of Holland.
PJ Note: Contains no images of concentration camps nor of people being killed or having been killed.

The Number on My Grandfather's Arm
By David Adler

The story of a young girl who learns her grandfather's experience in Auschwitz and then helps him overcome his sensitivity about the number on his arm, this picture book gives young children just enough information about the Holocaust without overwhelming them.

Promise of a New Spring: The Holocaust and Renewal
By Gerda Weissman Klein

This book describes the events of the Jewish Holocaust, comparing it to a forest fire that destroys all forms on life. The survivors are the promise of renewal.

The Secret Seder
By Doreen Rappaport

Jacques and his parents are hiding in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, pretending to be Catholics. On the first night of Passover, Jacques and his father elude Nazi soldiers to gather with other Jews and celebrate the Seder in secret.
PJ Note: Contains no images of concentration camps nor of people being killed or having been killed.

Star of Fear, Star of Hope
By Jo Hoestlandt

Nine-year-old Helen is confused by the disappearance of her Jewish friend during the German occupation of Paris.
PJ Note: Contains no images of concentration camps nor of people being killed or having been killed. It does, however, contain an image of Jews being lined up in the street.

The Tattooed Torah
By Marvell Ginsburg

This true story of the rescue and restoration of a small Torah from Brno, Czechoslovakia, teaches the Holocaust not only as a period of destruction but also as an opportunity for redemption.
PJ Note: Contains no images of concentration camps nor of people being killed or having been killed. It does, however, contain illustrations depicting Nazi soldiers.

Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust
By Eve Bunting

In this introduction to the Holocaust, Eve Bunting encourages young children to stand up for what they think is right, without waiting for others to join them.
PJ Note: This book does not contain any images of the Holocaust.

Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat?
By Nancy Patz

This book, a meditation on a woman's hat displayed inside the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, combines a pensive prose poem with arresting collage artwork.

Biography / Nonfiction

Anne Frank
By Josephine Poole

Anne Frank's diary, telling the story of her years in hiding from the Nazis, has affected millions of people. But what was she like as a small girl, at home with her family and friends, at play and at school? How did an ordinary little girl come to live such an extraordinary and tragically short life?
PJ Note: Contains no images of people being killed or having been killed. It does, however, contain illustrations of Nazi soldiers and concentration camp.

The Flag With Fifty-Six Stars: A Gift from the Survivors of Mauthausen
By Susan Goldman Rubin

On May 6th, 1945 when the 11th Armored Division of the U.S. Army marched into the Mauthausen Concentration camp, they were presented with an extraordinary gift. Despite their desperate and starving conditions, a group of prisoners had surreptitiously sewed scraps of sheets and jackets together to make a U.S. flag. Even though the inmates had added an extra row of stars, Colonel Richard Seibel had the flag flown over the camp as a tribute to the humanity, perseverance, and spirit of the survivors of Mauthausen.
PJ Note: Contains graphic images of concentration camps.

A Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz and His Children
By David A. Adler

Janusz Korczak was an author, radio personality, teacher, and doctor. But above all else, he was a hero. As the beloved director of a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, Poland, during the years of the Nazi Party's rise to power, he cared for hundreds of children. The children loved him as a father and affectionately called him their "Old Doctor." Korczak could not save them, but even in the darkest days of the Warsaw ghetto, he strove to protect them. Finally, forced to lead his orphans from the ghetto to the Treblinka death camp, Korczak remained with the children to the end.

Luba: The Angel of Bergen-Belsen
By Luba Tryszynska-Frederick

In December 1944, a young Jewish prisoner in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp heard the cries of 46 abandoned children. For the next four months, Luba Tryszynska managed to keep those children alive by providing food, shelter, warm fires-and a mother's love.
PJ Note: Contains no images of people being killed or having been killed. It does, however, contain many illustrations (and one photograph) of children living in a concentration camp and of guards.

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story
By Ken Mochizuki

The true story of Chiune Sugihara, the "Japanese Schindler," who, with his family's encouragement, saved thousands of Jews in Lithuania during World War II.
PJ Note: Contains no images of concentration camps nor of people being killed or having been killed.