Books for Holocaust Lesson Plans
Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust



There are many good children's books for use in Nazi and holocaust lesson plans -- books to use as anticipatory/cue sets, books to base a lesson around, or supplemental required reading for students. Below are some of the best we have come across and/or had recommended to us by teachers and

librarians how use this site. Nazi and Holocaust lesson plans need to be approached with care, as this very emotional subject can be challenging to teach in a way that doesn't create emotional turmoil for children.  

Hopefully the books below will be a good resource for you as you plan your Nazi/Hitler or Holocaust lesson plans. Note: The interest age of the children's books listed increases as you move down the page (from K-12).

-- For other good books about the World War II era, please return to American History books


The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
The Butterfly
by Patricia Polacco

Summary:
Based on the author's family stories, The Butterfly tells the story of a girl named Monique who first sees Nazi cruelty when one of them crush a butterfly she has been looking at. When she later discovers that a Jewish family is hiding in her family's basement, with the help of her parents, she understands the family is in great danger. A well told story about the terror of Nazi Germany and the courageous and selfless acts of Nazi resisters.

Rdg Levels: Interest--K-Gr.3      Difficulty--age 4-8

More Coming: For lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Always Remember Me : How One Family Survived World War II
Always Remember Me:
How One Family Survived World War II

Summary: Rachel's grandmother shares the family album with Rachel, discussing their 'first life' (in Germany) and their 'second life' (after the war.) Folk style illustrations include pictures of government papers, money, an ID card, etc... Based on experiences of the author's family.

Rdg Levels:  Interest--Gr. 2-4   Difficulty--age 4-8

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
The Cats in Krasinski Square
The Cats in Krasinski Square
by Karen Hesse

Summary: Set in Poland during WWII, this is a little known true story of Jewish resistance, stray cats, and a little Jewish girl who outfoxed the Nazis to deliver food to starving residents in the Warsaw Ghetto. Perfectly paired with Watson's "arresting images." (Booklist, starred)

Rdg Levels:  Interest--Gr. 3-5    Difficulty--age 9-12

Teachers: More on The Cats in Krasinski Square
Anne Frank
Anne Frank
by Josephine Poole

Summary: A sense of foreboding is quickly created by the text and illustrations of this moving picture book biography told from Anne's point of view. In a starred review, SLJ called this title "a worthy choice" to "introduce Anne's writings or her story." 

Rdg Levels:  Interest--Gr. 3-7    Difficulty--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc




Resource for Holocaust Lesson Plans

The website of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum has a section for teachers with interesting and helpful articles like "Why teach about the holocaust?", "What do I teach?", etc.

Perhaps there is something on this site that can help you in planning your holocaust lesson plans. To access the site, click here.




My Secret Camera by Frank Smith
My Secret Camera
Life in the Lodz Ghetto

Summary: Mendel Grossman was a photographer for the ghetto leaders, but he also secretly took thousands of photos documenting the heartbreaking suffering the Jews went through there. A great resource for holocaust lesson plans.

Rdg Levels:  Interest--Gr. 3-7   Difficulty--age 4-8

More Coming: For lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
The Devil's Arithmetic
by Jane Yolen

Summary:
As Hannah opens the door during Passover to welcome the prophet Elijah, she finds herself in a village in 1940s Poland, captured by the Nazis and taken to a death camp. She is befriended by a girl named Rivka, who helps her survive and hold on to her identity. Hannah takes Rivka's place in the gas chamber, but as it's door closes she is transported back to her grandparent's home and Passover. 


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 4-8    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
The Journey that Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
The Journey that Saved Curious George
The True Wartime Escape of Margret and HA Rey

Summary:
The true story of how Curious George authors Margret and H.A. Ray fled the Nazis, hiding their manuscripts of children's books in with their few belongings. Pocket diaries of H.A. were used to tell this amazing true story, and period materials help readers see into their lives in those dramatic, fearful times. "An appealing choice for biography assign- ments and units on World War II or refugees."(SLJ)


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 4-8    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
In My Hands : Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer
In My Hands:
Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

Summary:
This inspiring memoir tells of the experiences of Irene Gutowna, a 17-year-old Polish nursing student who found every opportunity she could to help the Jews living in Nazi-occupied countries, first leaving food for those in the ghetto, then protecting and hiding Jews who worked with her. School Library Journal urges that regardless of whether you have read many holocaust memoirs, "this one is a must, for its impact is so powerful." (SLJ)

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 5+     Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Yellow Star
Yellow Star
by Jennifer Roy

Summary:
Sylvia, the author's aunt, was four years old when her family was sent to the Lodz ghetto in wartime Poland, and six years later she was one of only 12 children who survived it. The slightly fictionalized story is told in almost poetic prose, in vignettes that each recall a particular memory in Sylvia's life. "A standout in the genre of Holocaust literature." (SLJ)

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 5-9     Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc




Number the Stars
Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry

Summary:
In this title, the pervasive heroism in Denmark during World War II is conveyed through the experiences of one girl, Annemarie Johannesen, and her family, who help Annemarie's best friend's family escape certain death. Word had gotten out that the Nazis were going to send Denmark's Jews to death camps, so 7,000 Jews (almost the entire Jewish population) were snuck out of the country within hours. This book is a popular required reading book to accompany holocaust lesson plans.

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 5-8    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More Coming: For lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Surviving Hitler : A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
Surviving Hitler:
A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps  

Summary:
A Holocaust survivor gives a personal testimony of his harrowing experiences in Nazi prison camps, blended with the history of the period. Through his voice the reader is taken into the horrors of the concentration camp. His courage and determination to see his family again got him through the experience, and his resolve to not hate his captors is moving and inspirational.

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 5-8    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Anne Frank : Beyond the Diary : A Photographic Remembrance
Beyond the Diary:
A Photographic Remembrance

Summary:
A moving and heartbreaking photo-biography of the life Anne led before she went into hiding, capturing the normal, happy life she and her family had together. Excerpts from her diary are mixed in with photos, maps, short essays, and more. If your holocaust lesson plans include The Diary of Anne Frank, this is a great supplemental book.


Reading Levels:
Interest Level-- Gr. 5+   Difficulty--young adult

More Coming: For lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
Hitler Youth
Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow  

Summary:
The gripping story of 12 young members of the Hitler Youth, whose innocence, enthusiasm, and patriotic devotion were taken advantage of for evil means. Each one discusses their reasons for joining, how Hitler used them, and what it was like. Includes photographs, excerpts from oral histories, diaries, letters, and interviews. "Will draw in readers and help spark deep discussion." (Booklist, starred)


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 5-8    Difficulty--young adult

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
The Boy Who Dared
The Boy Who Dared
A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth

Summary:
Helmuth Hubener is impressed with the outward show of the Hitler Youth, but his Mormon-based Christian beliefs make him question the ways Jews are being treated, the media control, and the invasion of other countries. He risks his life to start a newsletter to inform others about what is really happening, and is eventually caught. Based on a real person (and includes photographs.)

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 6-9     Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc






Once by Morris Gleitzman
Once
by Morris Gleitzman

Summary:
Felix has been safe at the Catholic orphanage, but when the Nazis finally arrive, he is forced to flee in search of his Jewish family. He desperately hopes they are still alive, but the more atrocities he sees, the more he realizes his alternate reality--a reality where everything will be fine--is less and less likely. "[E]asy...in terms of reading level---and a good choice as a read-aloud" (SLJ) to supplement your holocaust lesson plans.


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 6-9   Difficulty Level--young adult

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Daniel Half Human and the Good Nazi
Daniel Half Human
by David Chotjewitz

Summary:
Two friends want to join the Hitler youth, but Daniel is horrified to find out that his mother is Jewish. He wants to keep it a secret and still join. His friend, Armin, is loyal to Daniel, but is also under Nazi pressure to abandon him as a friend. He joins, and tries to warn Daniel of a coming danger. The end is the most shocking part of the whole story. "No book stages Kristallnacht more chillingly."(Horn Book)


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 7+    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
Parallel Journeys
Parallel Journeys
by Eleanor Ayer

Summary:
In alternating chapters, readers learn the stories of two young people living under Nazi rule during WW2. Alfons was a normal, loving boy until he joined the Hitler Youth and was manipulated and changed into a 'Nazi Devil.' During this same time, Jewish Helen attempts to flee Nazi persecution of Jews but is caught and struggles to survive.  "A fascinating work." (SLJ)


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 7+    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler
The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler
by James Cross-Giblin

Summary:
Beginning with his modest upbringing in Austria, his life is followed in this most complete biography of the man available for this age group. His growing abilities as a public speaker and his gradual rise in power, as well as the conditions that made for his ascent, are clearly explained. "A biography in the truest sense, this is a terrifying must..." (SLJ)


Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 7+    Difficulty--young adult

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc
I Have Lived a Thousand Years : Growing Up in the Holocaust
I Have Lived a Thousand Years:
Growing Up in the Holocaust

Summary:
A holocaust memoir about a 13 year old Jewish girl's experiences. Unlike many holocaust memoirs, the author of this book doesn't dwell on the atrocities but prefers hope. She and her mother help each other survive and keep their humanity, and very touching are the words of comfort shared amongst the Jews even in the middle of horrible situations. "An exceptional story, exceptionally well told." (PW)

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 8-12     Difficulty--young adult

More coming: lesson ideas, DRA & Lexile, etc





We do know that there are more great books to use in holocaust lesson plans, so we will surely be growing this list over the coming months. Do you know of a good children's book to use in Holocaust lesson plans?  If so, please let us know by completing the Suggest a Book form (see right column.)

Return -from- Books for Holocaust Lesson Plans -to- American History Books
Return -from- Books for Holocaust Lesson Plans -to- the Best Childrens Books homepage

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