This Sunday, April 7, will be Holocaust Remembrance Day. Although it might be a time some people don’t want to remember because of the terrible things that happened, that’s exactly why we need to stop and remember — to honor those who went through it, and to remind ourselves that we don’t want to go down that path again.
If you don’t know much about the Holocaust during World War II, there are lots of books that bring the time to life while still being interesting (and OK for tween/teen readers). Here are three of my favorites I think everyone should read:
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry: The fifth graders at my kids’ elementary school read this every year. It’s told through the eyes of 10-year-old Annemarie, whose family takes in Annemarie’s best friend Ellen Rosen and conceals her as part of the family when German Nazis begin their campaign to “relocate” Jewish families in Denmark. We learn how the Danish Resistance smuggled almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark across the sea to Sweden — almost 7,000 people. Real people can become real heroes.
Someone Named Eva, by Joan Wolf: Milada’s village in Czechoslovakia is invaded by Nazi troops looking to either kill or imprison citizens. Milada is “lucky” because she has blonde hair and light-colored eyes. She’s taken with some other children to a special camp where they’re “refashioned” to become like German children who can be adopted by German families. Milada’s new name becomes Eva, and she joins the family a high-ranking Nazi official. It was based on actual events, and brought out a side of Nazi Germany that I’d never known. I had the chance to interview author Joan Wolf on another blog a few years ago, if you’re interested in learning more. Read Day 1 of her interview and Day 2 of her interview here.
Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank: This real-life story of surviving the Holocaust has been a classic for years. She and her family lived in the “secret annex” of a government building for 2 years, until they were betrayed to the Germans. It’s a vivid look at how life was when they were cut off from the outside world — hungry, crowded, under constant threat of being discovered and imprisoned or killed. But it’s also a tribute to human courage and determination (and best for older middle school readers instead of younger kids).
Your turn: Have you read any of these books? Or have you read others about the Jewish people during the Holocaust that you would recommend? Share with us!