January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s important for us to remember and acknowledge the horrors and sometimes books can help start those conversations.
I am Anne Frank
By Brad Meltzer
Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
40 Pages | Ages 5-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525555940 | Dial BFYR
This engaging biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great – the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of an icon in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers. At the back are an excellent timeline and photos. This volume features Anne Frank, whose courage and hope during a time of terror are still an inspiration for people around the world today. While Anne and her family hid in an attic during the Holocaust, she kept a journal about all her hopes and fears and observations. That journal and the story of her life are still read and told today to remember the life of a young girl and warn against the consequences of bigotry.
The Cat Who Lived With Anne Frank
By David Lee Miller and Steven Jay Rubin
Illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524741501 | Philomel BFYR
When Mouschi the cat goes with his boy, Peter, to a secret annex, he meets a girl named Anne. Bright, kind and loving, Anne dreams of freedom and of becoming a writer whose words change the world. But Mouschi, along with Anne and her family and friends, must stay hidden, hoping for the war to end and for a better future. Told from the perspective of the cat who actually lived with Anne Frank in the famous Amsterdam annex, this poignant book paints a picture of a young girl who wistfully dreams of a better life for herself and her friends, tentatively wonders what mark she might leave on the world, and, above all, adamantly believes in the goodness of people. Accompanied by beautiful, vivid art, this book is a perfect introduction to a serious topic for younger readers, especially at a time when respect and inclusion are so important.
By Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
288 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Paperback
ISBN 9780735266261 | Puffin Canada
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers, Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school. Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner – strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
Letters from Cuba
By Ruth Behar
272 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525516477 | Nancy Paulsen Books
The situation is getting dire for Jews in Poland on the eve of World War II. Esther’s father has fled to Cuba, and she is the first one to join him. It’s heartbreaking to be separated from her beloved sister, so Esther promises to write down everything that happens until they’re reunited. And she does, recording both the good – the kindness of the Cuban people and her discovery of a valuable hidden talent – and the bad: the fact that Nazism has found a foothold even in Cuba. Esther’s evocative letters are full of her appreciation for life and reveal a resourceful, determined girl with a rare ability to bring people together, all the while striving to get the rest of their family out of Poland before it’s too late. Based on Ruth Behar’s family history, this compelling story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit in the most challenging times.
What Was the Holocaust?
By Gail Herman and Who HQ
Illustrated by Jerry Hoare
112 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780451533906 | Penguin Workshop
The Holocaust was a genocide on a scale never before seen, with as many as twelve million people killed in Nazi death camps – six million of them Jews. Gail Herman traces the rise of Hitler and the Nazis, whose rabid anti-Semitism led first to humiliating anti-Jewish laws, then to ghettos all over Eastern Europe, and ultimately to the Final Solution. She presents just enough information for an elementary-school audience in a readable, well-researched book that covers one of the most horrible times in history.
White Bird: A Wonder Story
By R.J. Palacio
224 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525645535 | Knopf BFYR
In R. J. Palacio’s bestselling collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. Here, Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with Grandmère’s heartrending story: how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II; how the boy she and her classmates once shunned became her savior and best friend. Sara’s harrowing experience movingly demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives. As Grandmère tells Julian, “It always takes courage to be kind, but in those days, such kindness could cost you everything.” With poignant symbolism and gorgeous artwork that brings Sara’s story out of the past and cements it firmly in this moment in history, White Bird is sure to captivate anyone who was moved by the book Wonder or the blockbuster movie adaptation and its message.
What the Night Sings
By Vesper Stamper
272 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781524700386 | Knopf BFYR
After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and on to living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.
The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak
608 Pages | Ages 12+| Paperback
ISBN 9780375842207 | Knopf BFYR
3:47 a.m. That’s when they come for Wren Clemmens. She’s hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who’ve gone so far off the rails, their parents don’t know what to do with them anymore. This is wilderness therapy camp. Eight weeks of survivalist camping in the desert. Eight weeks to turn your life around. Yeah, right. The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can’t put up a tent. And bitter won’t start a fire. Wren’s going to have to admit she needs help if she’s going to survive.
The Red Ribbon
By Lucy Adlington
288 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201048 | Candlewick
Three weeks after being detained on her way home from school, fourteen-year-old Ella finds herself in the Upper Tailoring Studio, a sewing workshop inside a Nazi concentration camp. There, two dozen skeletal women toil over stolen sewing machines. They are the seamstresses of Birchwood, stitching couture dresses for a perilous client list: wives of the camp’s Nazi overseers and the female SS officers who make prisoners’ lives miserable. It is a workshop where stylish designs or careless stitches can mean life or death. And it is where Ella meets Rose. As thoughtful and resilient as the dressmakers themselves, Rose and Ella’s story is one of courage, desperation, and hope — hope as delicate and as strong as silk, as vibrant as a red ribbon in a sea of gray.