True stories, biographies, and clearly written historical accounts are the foundation of children’s understanding of the Holocaust. Starting around age 11, children are emotionally and intellectually ready to learn the truth — found in both fiction and non-fiction — about this horrendous period in human history.
An introduction to the Holocaust must include some history of anti-Semitism and some background on the social and political atmosphere in Germany following World War I. Fortunately, some of the books below, such as Finkelstein’s Remember Not to Forget, are excellent introductions because they supply this background so well. Others are about experiences of real people caught in the Nazi’s web, people who represent the fate of both victims and survivors.
by Tomek Bogacki
Expressive acrylic illustrations by the author immediately set the tone of this Holocaust biography. Their tone fluctuates to match the mood of the text, which portrays Korczak's life from youth to death, last showing him with the orphans he taught marching to the train that would take them all to their deaths. Appropriate for Elementary students
by Deborah Durland Desaix, Karen Gray Ruelle
This handsomely illustrated book, with paintings in shades of blue, gray, maize and gold, gives an account of how Jewish families, escaping Allied airmen, and various others (some in the Resistance) found respite and shelter in a North African Kabyle mosque in the heart of Paris. Primary & Elementary
by Sharon McKay, Kathy Kacer
Original testimonies from survivors of the ghettos record the hardship, terror, and bravery that they experienced as young people during the Holocaust. Twelve accounts of ghetto life are included, showing the role adolescents played in securing food and necessities for their families. All in all, extremely moving. Middle School & High School
by Rachel A. Koestler-Grack
This biography covers the period from Wiesel's childhood, through his horrific experiences in concentration camps, to his life and career after the Holocaust. Following the narrative there is a conversation with the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about the meaning and message for youngsters of Wiesel's life, plus reference aids. Middle School
by Menno Metselaar, Ruud van der Rol, translated by Arnold J. Pomerans
First published in the Netherlands by the Anne Frank House, this draws on materials from the archives to give a history of the Frank family and their protectors, plus an account of the preserved Annex where the Frank family and others hid. The text is drawn from several sources including some adult books and Anne's diary. The testimony of Rosa de Winter, who was with the three Frank women in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen, is also given. Many photographs of the Frank family accompany the text of a handsome keepsake. Elementary, Middle School & High School
by Norman H. Finkelstein, illustrated by Lois & Lars Hokanson
A straightforward presentation of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and its aftermath that's illustrated with stark black and white pictures. Intended as an introduction for children in grades three through five, it contains background information that is essential for any teaching or understanding of the Holocaust. Primary & Elementary
by Bernice Steinhardt, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz
Esther Krinitz survived the Holocaust and lived to raise a family in the United States. Years after the war, she shared her memories with her children by sewing embroidered fabric collages depicting scenes from her early life. Her daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, has taken some of these amazing embroideries, added to the comments written by her mother, and created a book that is outstanding in its immediacy and beauty. Elementary, Middle School, High School & Adult
by Barbara Rogasky
The first edition of this unflinching look at the Holocaust was written in 1988 and represented a significant contribution to books about the Holocaust for young people. Here, much new information has been added: the role of "ordinary" Germans in the Final Solution, the German's attempts to hide their crimes, the Allies' decision not to bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz and more. A chapter called "The Uniqueness of the Holocaust" lists recent atrocities and hate crimes. One of the very best treatments of the Holocaust for young people. Middle School & High School
by Nancy Patz
Inspired by the author/illustrator's reaction to a woman's hat she saw in a glass case in Amsterdam's Jewish Historical Museum, this is a prose poem meditating on the identity of the woman and on her probable fate during the Holocaust. The fate of other Dutch Jews and, indeed, of every human being, is implicated in the text and in the striking illustrations, which consist of somber-toned watercolors, pencil drawings, and old photographs. Winner of a Sydney Taylor Book Award. Elementary, Middle School, High School, & Adult
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Linda Silver
Linda Silver is a retired librarian and a not-retired reviewer, editor, and author. She edits The Jewish Valuesfinder -- an online guide to Jewish kids’ books. She's written a book on Jewish values in children’s books and her newest book, The Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens: A JPS Guide, will be published by in October of 2010.
Newest book lists
All our categories