This year Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah) falls on May 2nd. Yom Hashoah is the 27th day of the Jewish month Nissan and was chosen by the Israeli Parliament in the 1950s to remember the tragedy of the Holocaust. Today this holiday is observed worldwide.
Children’s literature is an excellent way to introduce the facts of the Holocaust to young readers. Fictionalized accounts can “personalize” the experience in ways that non-fiction can not by focusing on the emotional experiences of the protagonists. Readers can emphasize and identify with the children in these stories. The following books can be used to convey the horror of the Holocaust and the importance of remembering.
One Yellow Daffodil. 1995.
During Hanukkah two children help a Holocaust survivor to once again embrace his religious traditions.
[Education Storage: SE. AD59O]
Feder, Paula Kurzband
The Feather-Bed Journey. 1995.
As she tries to repair a torn feather pillow, Grandma tells about her childhood in Poland, about the Nazi persecution of Jews during World War II, and about the origin of this special pillow.
[Education Storage: SE. F3171F]
Oppenheim, Shulamith Levy
The Lily Cupboard. 1992.
Miriam, a young Jewish girl, is forced to leave her parents and hide with strangers in the country during the German occupation of Holland.
[Education Storage: SE. OP5L]
For Middle Grades:
The Cats in Krasinski Square. 2004.
Two Jewish sisters, escapees of the infamous Warsaw ghetto, devise a plan to thwart an attempt by the Gestapo to intercept food bound for starving people behind the dark Wall.
[Education S Collection: Q. S. H463c]
The Harmonica. 2004.
Separated from his parents in Poland during World War II, a young Jewish boy enslaved in a concentration camp, keeps hope alive while playing Schubert on his harmonica whenever the camp’s commandant orders him to play.
[Education Storage: Q. S.J648h]
Daniel’s Story. 1993.
Daniel, whose family suffers as the Nazis rise to power in Germany, describes his imprisonment in a concentration camp and his eventual liberation.
[Education Storage: S. M413D]
McDonough, Yona Zeldis
The Doll With the Yellow Star. 2005.
When France falls to Germany at the start of World War II, nine-year-old Claudine must leave her beloved parents and friends to stay with relatives in America, accompanied by her doll, Violette.
[Education S Collection: S. M147d]
The Key is Lost. 2000.
When the Germans occupy Holland in 1940 and begin to persecute the Jews there, twelve-year-old Eva and her family assume false names and move from one hiding place to another.
[Education Storage: S. V92k:E]
Williams, Laura E.
Behind the Bedroom Wall. 1996.
Thirteen-year-old Korinna must decide whether to report her parents to her Hitler youth group when she discovers that they are hiding Jews in a secret space behind Korinna’s bedroom wall.
[Education S Collection: S. W6734B]
Wolf, Joan M.
Someone Named Eva. 2007.
From her home in Lidice, Czechoslovakia, in 1942, eleven-year-old Milada is taken with other blond, blue-eyed children to a school in Poland to be trained as “proper Germans” for adoption by German families, but all the while she remembers her true name and history.
[Education S Collection: S. W831s]
The Devil’s Arithmetic. 1988.
Hannah resents the traditions of her Jewish heritage until time travel places her in the middle of a small Jewish village in Nazi-occupied Poland.
[Center For Children’s Books: S. Y78de]
For Young Adults:
The horrors and brutality of the Holocaust are captured in this gripping graphic novel, which follows the story of a couple, Kazik and Cessia, who lose a daughter at Auschwitz and barely survive the concentration camp themselves, in a historical saga based on the reminiscences of actual concentration-camp survivors (Description from NoveList).
[Undergrad: Q.741.5944 C872a]
Napoli, Donna Jo
Stones in the Water. 1997.
After being taken by German soldiers from a local movie theater along with other Italian boys including his Jewish friend, Roberto is forced to work in Germany, escapes into the Ukrainian winter, before desperately trying to make his way back home to Venice.
[Education Storage: S. N162st]
This book captures the hardships and cruelty of life in the ghettos of Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of World War II, through the eyes of a Jewish orphan who must use all his wits and courage to survive unimaginable events and circumstances. (Description from NoveList)
[Education S Collection: S. Sp465m]
The Book Thief. 2006.
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.
[Education S Collection: S. Z89b]
Sullivan, Edward T.
The Holocaust in Literature For Youth: a Guide and Resource Book. 1999.
[Education Juvenile Reference: S. 016.9405318 Su53h]
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The museum has developed a comprehensive guide of topics of study for students.
Anne Frank House Amsterdam
This site includes a timeline of Anne Frank’s life and digitized photographs from the Anne Frank House Museum.
Jewish Virtual Library’s Holocaust Wing
The Holocaust Wing of the Jewish Virtual Library contains articles, original documents, a holocaust glossary, and a bibliography all written at level that can be understood by older students.