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World War II Revisited: Accessible Books for Kids

by Miriam Downey 8. March 2013 05:27

 

Maxwell, my 15-year-old grandson, is fascinated by World War II. His great grandfather served in the war in the Pacific, and Maxwell has some of his medals and pictures. He is taking a trip with his father this summer to Dunkirk and Normandy as well as some of the other infamous sites of the European war.

I am currently reading a remarkable biography of the war with Japan called Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner, whose plane was bombed down over the Pacific in 1943. One of my other grandsons read the book last year and was fortunate to hear Louis Zamperini, now in his 90s, speak at our nearby university. I would highly recommend this book to students of high school age for a look at an important time in American history.

Thousands of books have been written about World War II. The following list includes books from several genres: fiction, biography, and history. Of course, this cannot possibly be an exhaustive list, but these are books that are accessible to young people. The war continues to be an important topic for authors of all types. We are losing the last of the veterans of World War II, and this generation of children only know of the war as history. All of these books will be available at your local library or bookstore. Following the book list are a couple of websites that may be of interest.

Non-Fiction History

Where the Action Was: Women War Correspondents in World War II by Penny Colman. Describes the work of women war correspondents who covered all the theaters of the war. (grades 6=12)

Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis by Peter Nelson. This tells about a young boy who helped solve some of the mysteries about the sinking of the Indianapolis 55 years after it happened. (grades 6-12)

Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II by Penny Colman. Describes the many jobs women took on during the war. (grades 6-9)

Is Paris Burning? by Larry Collins. The story of how Paris was saved from Hitler in 1944. (grades 9-12)

Beyond Courage by Doreen Rappaport. Describes the ways that teens and young adults stood up to the terrorism of the Nazis during the war. (grades 8-12)

Fiction

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Newbery Medal winner about the Danish Christians and their efforts to rescue Jews. (grades 4-8)

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green. The friendship between a young Jewish girl in Arkansas and a German prisoner of war. (grades 5-8)

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki. Japanese American boys play baseball in an internment camp during the war. (grades 4-8)

Kingdom by the Sea by Robert Westall. A 12-year-old boy and his dog seek safety in war-torn England. (grades 5-9)

For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy by Kimberly Bradley. A novel based on the experiences of a young woman spy during the French Resistance. (grades 9-12)

Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World WarTwo by Joseph Bruchac. Young Navajo Marines use their language to send coded messages during the war. (grades 8-12)

A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Harry Mazer. A Hawaiian boy tries to find his father after the attack on Pearl Harbor. (grades 6-9)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. An award-winning novel about two young women involved in the war effort in Great Britain. (grades 10-12)

Biography/Memoir

No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel. The story of the author's journey during World War II trying to escape from Poland. (grades 5-9)

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. This is probably the most famous memoir of Jews during World War II. (grades 6-9)

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The story of an Olympic runner whose plane was bombed down in the Pacific. (grades 8-12)

The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause by Damon Gause. A firsthand account of a soldier who escapes from the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. (grades 8-12)

Hiding in the Spotlight by Greg Dawson. The story of Zhanna and Frina, piano proteges who were living in the Ukraine when the Nazis invaded. They entertained their way through the war and escaped the death march. (grades 9-12)

Websites

The Perilous Fight: America's World War II in Color. www.pbs.org/perilousfight/. This is a PBS series with some rare color photographs.

Pictures of World War II. http://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/photos/ Pictures and writings from the National Archives.

Life in World War II: The Photos We Remember. http://life.time.com/history/world-war-ii-classic-photos-from-life-magazine/#1. The story of the war as it was portrayed in Life and Time magazines.

 

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