Holocaust and World War II Children’s Books

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Holocaust and World War II books help children understand the past through historical fiction and nonfiction stories that immerse them in the experiences of people who lived through it.

In order not to repeat the past, we must understand it. We must know. We must remember.

Here are some picture books and chapter books for children about the Holocaust and World War II that will teach them more about this dark period in history.

The Holocaust & World War II Picture Books

Benno and the NIght of Broken Glass Children's Picture Books About The Holocaust and World War II
Benno and the Night of Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott, illustrated by Josee Bisaillon
A neighborhood cat observes the changes in both the German and Jewish families in its town during the period leading up to Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the true beginning of the Holocaust.

 

The Whispering Town Children's Picture Books About The Holocaust and WWII
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
In a small Danish fishing village, a Jewish family must escape in pitch blackness. The townspeople guide the fleeing family with whispers. It’s a simple picture book but gets the message across about how people were escaping and others were kind.

 

The Cats in Krasinski Square Children's Picture Books About The Holocaust
The Cats in Krasinski Square
by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Wendy Watson
During World War II, this children’s picture book tells the story of a Jewish girl and her cat friends who trick the Gestapo at a train station in Warsaw.

 

stone angel Children's Picture Books About The Holocaust and World War II
Stone Angel
by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Katie May Green
Set during the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II, we follow a little girl and her family as they flee for their lives. The Stone Angel in the girl’s building gives her hope and courage.

 

Six Million Paper ClipsChildren's Picture Books About The Holocaust and World War II
Six Million Paper Clips by Peter W. Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand
School children now days can hardly imagine how many people were murdered during the Holocaust so they decide to collect six million paperclips. This is a popular choice for classrooms to read when learning about WWII.

 

The Butterfly Children's Picture Books About The Holocaust
The Butterfly
by Patricia Polacco
Sevrine hides from the Nazis in Monique’s basement until both families are forced to flee from the Nazis during World War II.

 



Jars of Hope Children's Picture Books About The Holocaust and World War II
Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust by Jennifer Roy, illustrated by Meg Swenson
This inspiring narrative nonfiction picture book about World War II honors Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who helps smuggle babies and children out of the ghetto before they’re sent to the camps. Irene kept lists of the children’s original names and their new names which she buried in jars, hoping that maybe after the war she could reunite families. She risked her life and saved over 2,500 children.

 

World War II and the Holocaust Chapter & Middle Grade Books

Hidden- A Child's Story of the Holocaust Children's Books About World War II
Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust
by Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, illustrated by Marc Lizano
ages 6 – 10 (graphic novel)
Now a grandmother, Dounia tells her granddaughter about when she was a young girl and hid from the Nazis with her neighbors. This is a gorgeous historical graphic novel chapter book.

 


When the World Was Ours
by Liz Kessler
ages 9 – 12
Inspired by the author’s family history, three friends from Vienna, Leo, Max, and Elsa, can’t imagine the direction their lives will take separating them by war, location, and ideology. Leo and Elsa are Jewish so their path includes ghetto housing, escape for one of them, and prison camp for the other. But, Max is not Jewish and his main goal is to get the approval of his brutal Nazi father. To do so, he gladly pursues Nazi beliefs and actions, despite the nagging voice that reminds him that his friends weren’t “dogs” or less than human. The story’s conclusion weaves together their stories in a heartbreaking, beautiful ending that will leave you with a lot to discuss about humanity, morality, hope, and love.


Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children
by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Whittingham
ages 10+
Holocaust survivor stories like these MUST be told. Because these six children started just like any of the kids reading their stories, they were ordinary kids who experienced the hardest things a child could face…being torn from their homes, separated from family, captured as a prisoner, and/or forced to hide. Graphic storytelling with unique artwork supports the clear, compelling narratives that will stay with you. It’s pretty sad to witness the tragedies in these children’s lives. Powerful, emotional, deeply disturbing that leaves us with a sense of loss, even with their survival. We need more books like this. We must never forget. Buy this book for your classrooms and libraries!

 

 Moving Historical Children's Books About The Holocaust and World War II
The Book Thief
by Marcus Zusak
ages 10+
Death narrates the story of Liesel, a girl lives in Munich during the time of Nazi Germany. Through impossibly hard times, she has a burning desire to read. Her first stolen book, which her foster father uses to teach her, is The Gravediggers Handbook. Many people love this powerful story of growing up, friendship, and the human condition. It wasn’t my favorite historical fiction story about World War II — it felt tedious to read, the narrator bothered me, and I didn’t like all the swearing.

 

Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
ages 8 – 12
Without a doubt, this memoir is the most popular and iconic first-person account of the Holocaust, Anne writes about her time in hiding from the Nazis.
Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
Milkweed
by Jerry Spinelli
ages 8 – 12
Maybe Jew or a Gypsy but the main character is definitely a street kid and a thief. He’s taken in by other orphans and wants to belong — perhaps to the Nazis. Until he sees something that will change his mind…
Good Historical Fiction Books for Kids
The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett
ages 8 – 12
Tissue alert — this breathtaking historical book is essentially a fable set in Nazi Germany. We follow three Gypsy siblings who have witnessed the capture of their family and friends. While walking and searching for food, they find an abandoned zoo, with talking animals. That’s all I’ll reveal. You NEED to read this beautiful historical story. It will change your life.
Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport true historical stories of world war II
Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport
by Emma Carlson Berne
ages 8 – 12
Memorable, gripping short historical stories tell about some of the 10,000 children who escaped the Nazis without their parents, traveled to England, and lived with host families until the war was over. Some were reunited with families while others were not, but they were all saved.
Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust
by Allan Zullo
ages 8 – 12
Each of these children’s true stories will inspire readers to learn how these kids all faced the horrors of the Holocaust with courage and bravery.

 

Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
ages 8 – 12
Lowry does an excellent job at writing about WWII in a way that isn’t too scary or inappropriate for kids. Annemarie’s best friend hides Annemarie’s Jewish family. The tension is high as the Nazis are everywhere looking for Jews or Jewish sympathizers. It’s challenging to hide knowing that every day you could be caught and sent to a death camp. Finally, the family escapes to Sweden where they will be safe from the Nazis.

 

The Devil's Arithmetic Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
The Devil’s Arithmetic
by Jane Yolen
ages 8 – 12
Present-day Hannah travels back in time to a Polish village just before it’s stormed by Nazi troops. She’s taken with her neighbors to a concentration camp and there, sacrifices herself in place of her friend.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
by Judith Kerr
ages 8 – 12
Growing up in Germany, Anna doesn’t think too much about Hitler until her father disappears. That’s when she’s forced to leave her home behind and flee the country.

The Boy on the Wooden Box Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
The Boy on the Wooden Box
by Leon Leyson
ages 8 – 12
This former Schindler’s list child tells his story — how he was only 10 when he left his home in Poland for the Krakow ghetto and survived the horrors there ultimately thanks to Oskar Schindler.

good historical fiction chapter books
The Dollmaker of Krakow
by Rachael Romero
ages 8 – 12
A “live” doll and a Polish magician toy store owner during Ward Wawr II develop a beautiful friendship. Later, a friendship develops between the doll, the magician, a Jewish father, and his daughter. When the Nazis force the Jews into a ghetto, the doll encourages the magician to save as many children as he can by turning them into dolls for a short time. We only get a glimpse of the actual WWII horror; the story instead focuses on the relationships. The ending is heart-breaking but also life-affirming as we see the power of love and friendship.
best graphic novels for kids
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky
ages 12+
SOOOO good! Initially, I felt skeptical that an adaptation could work but it really does. The diary bits and dialogue are well-balanced into a cohesive story that feels seamless, well-written, and insightful. Anne’s personality really shines through as she sets the historical context and describes her daily life in hiding which isn’t always very exciting but does result in a romance with the boy her age who lives there, too.

Catherine’s War
by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel
ages 8- 12
When World War II comes to France, Rachel, a Jewish girl, must change her name and go into hiding. She moves frequently to avoid Germans but one thing stays the same, her love for photography. Using her camera, she documents the war from her perspective. Based on the author’s mother’s life, this is a beautiful graphic novel of WWII that focuses on growing up, the kindness of strangers, and art.

A Place to Hang the Moon
by Kate Albus
ages 8 – 12
A wonderful, heartwarming historical fiction story set in world war II with close-knit siblings who stick together and eventually find their forever home. (If you like the Vanderbeekers, you’ll love this book, too!) Three siblings join the groups of children leaving London during WWII for safety. But in their case, their neglectful grandmother has recently died and they need to find a new home. Unfortunately, their placements are horrid. It’s only the library and the kind librarian who help them survive the bullying and hunger. What’s worse, the librarian is deemed “unsuitable” to be their foster mother since her missing husband is German. However, when things go from bad to worse in their latest home, the children demand to live with the librarian no matter what.
Best Books for 11-Year Olds
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
ages 8 – 12
A Newbery Honor winner!!! Ada and her brother escape their mother’s abuse when the London children are evacuated during WWII and go to live with a grieving woman in a small country town. It’s difficult for both the woman and children to trust each other but slowly the trust grows. As it does, all three regain something lost — hope and love. I can’t recommend this book enough, it will touch your heart at such a deep level. Don’t miss the equally amazing sequel: The War I Finally Won.

Resistance
by Jennifer Nielsen
ages 8 – 12
Chaya is a Polish Jew who decides to fight back against the Nazis in honor of her siblings. She becomes part of a resistance group that, among other things, helps smuggle supplies to the ghettos. She’s a determined, flawed young woman who fights for justice all the while knowing she won’t make huge changes but that at least some resistance actions are better than doing nothing.
holocaust and world war II books for kids
Allies
by Alan Gratz
ages 9 – 12
Written from many different voices about one day in history, readers easily can see the massive amount of cooperation, planning. and troops from different countries involved in D-Day (when the Allies invaded France at Normandy.) We hear from an American teenager soldier who was born in Germany, a French Algerian girl whose mom is a recently captured spy,  a Canadian paratrooper who lands in the wrong spot, and an American black medic. It’s violent and disheartening yet despite terrible losses, racism, and injuries, the fighters persist despite everything to accomplish their goal — to take back the area for the Allies. What an incredible retelling of this day, appropriate for middle-grade readers.
Paper Wishes historical fiction books for kids
Paper Wishes
by Lois Sepahban
ages 8 – 12
It would be hard as an author not to vilify this country for sending thousands of Japanese Americans to prison camps. But this author doesn’t. She just skillfully shares the evocative story of 10-year old Manami of Washington State, who is sent with her family to a dusty camp, leaving behind her beloved dog, Yujiin, and everything else they owned. Devastated, Manami stops speaking. Her story is painful, sprinkled with hope, and all too real. Please read this with your kids– it’s important.

Soul Lanterns
by Shaw Kuzki
ages 8 – 12
An important, multi-layered story of a Japanese girl’s understanding of Hiroshima, grief, family, and the healing power of sharing stories.
When Nozomi’s art teacher, Mr. Yoshioka, leaves the school due to sickness, she and her friends plan a festival in his honor called “Hiroshima: Then and Now.” They interview people close to them about their experiences during the bombing (which they call “the flash”), learning many unknown stories including that Mr. Yoshioka lost his beloved and stills visits her grave. As the kids learn about their family and neighbor’s lives and deaths, their stories impact the way the kids’ view things now and their hope for the future, which they each share artistically in the festival.
historical fiction
Lifeboat 12
by Susan Hood
ages 8 – 12

Thinking Hitler will invade England next, Ken’s family sends him to safety in Canada. But, Ken’s ship is torpedoed and sunk only days into the journey. Written in verse, this is a moving account of bravery as Ken, several other kids, a priest, the ship’s only woman, and members of the crew spend weeks adrift at sea in an ill-stocked lifeboat. You’ll read about their swollen feet, dehydration, and starvation as well as the stories and songs that helped keep the kids distracted and somewhat hopeful. Ultimately, you’ll be left with a sense of amazement at the resiliency of the human spirit.

Traitors Among Us 
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
ages 8 – 12
It’s a little-known history that after WWII, Russians kidnapped Ukrainian refugees for slave labor or death. In this true story, sisters Maria and Krystia are kidnapped by the Russians when another girl falsely accuses them of being Hitler Girls, girls who collaborated with the Nazis. The girls, including their accusor, are taken to a house in the Russian zone for Interrogation where they fight to survive and with the help of others, to escape. This well-written history shows the power of human kindness.
holocaust and world war II books
The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow
ages 9 – 12
American-raised Wendy’s Nazi-spy mom takes her to live in Germany during World War II. Wendy doesn’t even speak the language and feels overwhelmed with her mother’s zeal for Hitler. When Wendy starts working at Lebensborn, the place where only Aryan children live — many who were forcibly removed from their parents — she learns from her new friend about standing up for what’s right.

The Upstairs Room Children's Chapter Books About WWII's Holocaust
The Upstairs Room
by Johanna Reiss
ages 8 – 12 (Newbery winner)
Annie and her sister must hide from the Nazis in a small farmhouse room in Holland. Two years the sisters lived in hiding, by themselves, without their family. This historical fiction book is based on the author’s own experiences as a Jewish girl during WWII.

Children's Books About WWII
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne
ages 12+
Narrated from the perspective of a 9-year old boy whose dad is head of the Concentration Camp, we piece together where Bruno’s new friend lives and why he must hide their friendship. It’s a kid-favorite moving and sad historical fiction chapter book.

I Have Lived A Thousand Years- Growing Up In the Holocaust Children's Books About WWII
I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In the Holocaust
by Livia Bitton-Jackson
ages 14+
This survivor memoir shows the atrocities of the Holocaust in Hungary. Elli loses everything, then is moved to a ghetto, and later is taken to the death camps. Disturbing, as it should be.

The Safest Lie Children's Books About WWII
Twenty and Ten by Angela Cerrito
ages 10+
This children’s middle-grade holocaust book is set in France during World War II. A group of nuns and students help hide ten Jewish children from the Nazis.

 

children's books about WWII (World War II)
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
ages 13+
Deftly written, this is the story of a girl named Henneke who becomes part of the Dutch resistance during WWII. It’s also a coming of age story during the horrific Holocaust time in history.
historical graphic novel about World War II and the Holocaust
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky ages 12+
What an amazing graphic novel adaptation of Anne’s diary about her hidden time during the Holocaust! The diary bits and dialogue are well-balanced into a cohesive story that feels seamless, well-written, and insightful. Anne’s personality really shines through as she sets the historical context and describes her daily life in hiding which isn’t always very exciting but does result in a romance with the boy her age who lives there, too.

The Last Cherry Blossom
by Kathleen Burkinshaw
ages 11+
In this beautifully written, eye-opening WWII book, we follow the life of Yuriko, a Japanese girl who lives in Hiroshima during World War II. Initially, her life revolves around drama with her family and friends just like a typical child’s life in any country. But, in this recounting of Burkinshaw’s mother’s actual experience, her life is torn apart when the atomic bomb is dropped. Not to mention that it comes as a shock to learn that Japan has been losing the war. Yuriko’s life becomes a nightmare of survival and endurance.
Man's Search for Meaning
Man’s Search for Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl
ages 14+
Frankl talks about his time in the Nazi Concentration Camps. But more than that, he reflects that those who survived did so because they had a purpose (meaning) in their lives. Incredible and thought-provoking. (This isn’t a children’s book but I think it’s appropriate for mature teens.)
NIght
Night
by Elie Weisel
ages 14+
One of the best holocaust books written, Elie’s memoir shows the horror of his life at two different Concentration Camps during World War II. It’s short, well-written, and life-changing. (This also isn’t a children’s book but I think it’s appropriate for mature teens.)
good graphic novels
They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, & Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker ages 13+
Both history and memoir, this is an important, no, essential story during WWII when the US government declares war on Japan and subsequently all Japanese people, forcing anyone of Japanese descent, including children, into detention camps…George’s family leaves behind a two-bedroom house in Los Angeles, taking only what they can carry. They are transported first to a cramped, smelly horse stable and then to a bare-bones, overcrowded barracks surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. George and his brother adapt well –mostly because they have amazing parents but this story also shows the reality for the adults in their new, unfair situation. It shows George’s parents’ resiliency and perseverance. When World War II ended, leaving the camps isn’t an easy, happy ending for any of the detained families. As you can imagine, they have nothing– no jobs nor bank accounts and are returning to a world of prejudice.

Desert Diary Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire
by Michael O. Tunnel
ages 10+
Essential all libraries, this historical fiction book about World War II in the U.S. takes a deep dive into the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII from the beginning of internments to the aftermath of leaving the camps and starting over. It’s filled with facts, photographs, and artifacts (letters and newspaper articles.)
Historical Children's Books About The Holocaust and World War II
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4 Responses

  1. Geoff Collinson says:

    I need to find out the name of a book I half read at junior school. It was about a boy surviving in wartime Poland. I think his name was Peter.That’s all I remember. HELP

  2. Catherine says:

    Thank you, for such a comprehensive and important list.
    Would you consider adding:
    Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust (Eve Bunting)?

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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