Here is a curated book list for Holocaust Education Month. This collection of powerful and thought-provoking children’s literature offers a profound exploration of one of the darkest chapters in human history. As we commemorate this month, these books will help your students gain essential insights into the Holocaust, its survivors, and the lessons we can learn from the past. Through memoirs, historical accounts, and fiction, these works shed light on the indomitable human spirit, resilience, and the importance of remembrance. By reading these titles, your students will gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust’s impact on individuals and society, empathy, and a commitment to never forget.
The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
A tale of friendship and bravery in the midst of unthinkable horror, this classic Holocaust story from master storyteller Patricia Polacco is a vital lesson in the power of hope. In this Holocaust story based on real events and passed from the narrator to her niece, the author-illustrator herself, Patricia Polacco once again celebrates the shared humanity of the peoples of this world.
Ever since the Nazis marched into Monique’s small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her. That is, until the night Monique encounters a little ghost sitting at the end of her bed. She turns out to be a Jewish girl named Sevrine who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique’s basement. Playing after dark, the two become friends. But when they are discovered, both of their families must embark on a nighttime flight. And Monique can only hope that the freedom of the butterflies in her garden will reach Sevrine as well.
Anne Frank by Josephine Poole & Angela Barrett
How did an ordinary little girl come to live such an extraordinary life? This picture book biography tells the incredible story of Anne Frank for a younger audience.
Anne Frank’s diary telling the story of her years in hiding from the Nazis has affected millions of people. But what was she like as a small girl, at home with her family and friends; at play and at school? In the first half of the book we meet Anne as a small child growing up with her family in Germany. Then we follow her flight to Holland to escape the Nazis; the German invasion and the gradual isolation, then outright persecution, of the Jewish population which forces the family into hiding; the years in the Secret Annex; and her last heart-breaking journey.
Told with haunting, meticulously researched illustrations, this is the ideal introduction to Anne Frank’s story.
The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse and Wendy Watson
Newbery medalist Karen Hesse tells a harrowing, true story about life in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII.
When Karen Hesse came upon a short article about cats out-foxing the Gestapo at the train station in Warsaw during WWII, she couldn’t get the story out of her mind. The result is this stirring account of a Jewish girl’s involvement in the Resistance. At once terrifying and soulful, this fictional account, borne of meticulous research, is a testament to history and to our passionate will to survive, as only Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse can write it.
Luba – The Angel of Bergen-Belsen by Michelle R. McCann
Why am I still alive? Why was I spared?
One night in 1944, Luba Tryszynska’s questions were answered when she found fifty-four children abandoned behind the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. Luba knew if the Nazis caught her she could be executed.
But they are someone’s children. And they are hungry.
Despite the mortal dangers, Luba and the women of her barracks cared for these orphans thro-ugh a winter of disease, starvation, and war. Here is the true story of an everyday hero and the children who gave her a reason to live.
My name is Luba Tryszynska-Frederick and this is my story. I never thought of myself as a particularly brave person, certainly not a hero. But I found that inside every human being there is a hero waiting to emerge. I never could have done what I did without the help of many heroes. This story is for them, and for the children. –Luba Tryszynska-
Angel Girl by Laurie Friendman
Frederick Herman lives in a labor camp. It is World War II, and the Nazis have made him a prisoner. He is forced to work long hours, and his only food is soup made of water. Soon he loses the will to go on. Then she appears. A young girl on the other side of the barbed-wire fence – an angel girl, bearing food and hope in the most hopeless of times. She seems like a miracle. And for Herman, the miracles have just begun…Based on a ture tale of survival, Angel Girl is a story of love, hope, and the strength of the human spirit.
Graphic Novels and Comics
Hidden by Loic Dauvillier
In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.
Hidden ends on a tender note, with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends . . . and a young girl in present-day France becoming closer to her grandmother, who can finally, after all those years, tell her story. With words by Loïc Dauvillier and art by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, this picture book-style comic for young readers is a touching read.
Anne Frank’s Diary – The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman and David Polonsky
A timeless story rediscovered by each new generation, The Diary of a Young Girl stands without peer. This graphic edition remains faithful to the original, while the stunning illustrations interpret and add layers of visual meaning and immediacy to this classic work of Holocaust literature.
“[A] stunning, haunting work of art…”—The New York Times Book Review
For both young readers and adults The Diary continues to capture the remarkable spirit of Anne Frank, who for a time survived the worst horror the modern world has seen—and who remained triumphantly and heartbreakingly human throughout her ordeal.
Includes extensive quotations directly from the definitive edition; adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky, and authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel.
Survivors of the Holocaust by Kath Shackleton and Zane Whittingham
This extraordinary graphic novel tells the true stories of six Jewish children and young people who survived the Holocaust.
Between 1933 and 1945, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party were responsible for the persecution of millions of Jews across Europe. From suffering the horrors of Auschwitz, to hiding from Nazi soldiers in war-torn Paris, to sheltering from the Blitz in England, each true story is a powerful testament to the survivors’ courage. These remarkable testimonials serve as a reminder never to allow such a tragedy to happen again.
Also in this graphic novel:Current photographs of each contributor along with an update about their livesA glossaryA timeline to support the reader and develop their understanding of this period. School and Library Association Information Books Awards, 2017 in the UK.
But I Live edited by Charlotte Schallie
An intimate co-creation of three graphic novelists and four Holocaust survivors, But I Live consists of three illustrated stories based on the experiences of each survivor during and after the Holocaust.
David Schaffer and his family survived in Romania due to their refusal to obey Nazi collaborators. In the Netherlands, brothers Nico and Rolf Kamp were separated from their parents and hidden by the Dutch resistance in thirteen different places. Through the story of Emmie Arbel, a child survivor of the Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, we see the lifelong trauma inflicted by the Holocaust.
To complement these hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable visual stories, But I Live includes historical essays, an illustrated postscript from the artists, and personal words from each of the survivors.
As we urgently approach the post-witness era without living survivors of the Holocaust, these illustrated stories act as a physical embodiment of memory and help to create a new archive for future readers. By turning these testimonies into graphic novels, But I Live aims to teach new generations about racism, antisemitism, human rights, and social justice.
The Librarian of Auschwitz adapted by Salva Rubio
Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this graphic novel tells the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.
Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.
White Bird by R.J. Palacio
SYDNEY TAYLOR AWARD WINNER • A NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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.
Hanna’s Suitcase by Karen Levine AND Hanna’s Suitcase on Stage the play by Emil Sher
In March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children’s Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan from the Auschwitz museum in Germany. Fumiko Ishioka, the center’s curator, was captivated by the writing on the outside that identified its owner: “Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Waisenkind (the German word for orphan).” Children visiting the center were full of questions. Who was Hana Brady? Where did she come from? What was she like? What happened to her? Inspired by their curiosity and her own need to know, Fumiko began a year of detective work, scouring the world for clues. Her search led her from present-day Japan, Europe and North America back to 1938 Czechoslovakia to learn the story of Hana Brady, a fun-loving child with wonderful parents, a protective big brother, and a passion for ice skating, their happy life turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.
Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Hitler’s Canary by Sandi Toksvig
It’s April 1940 and German troops are pouring onto the streets of Denmark. When the threat of the Nazis becomes too much in their country, the people are forced to take action in one of history’s most dramatic rescues: smuggling Denmark’s Jewish population across the water to Sweden. This brilliantly-told book, based on Sandi’s own family history and the stories her father shared with her, will help to inform children (and adults!) about lesser-known events of World War II.
When The World Was Ours by Liz Kessler
Three friends. One memory.
Three young friends—Leo, Elsa, and Max—spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness and that they will soon be cruelly ripped apart from one another. With their lives taking them across Europe—to Germany, England, Prague, and Poland—will they ever find their way back to one another? Will they want to?
Inspired by a true story, When the World Was Ours is an extraordinary novel that is as powerful as it is heartbreaking and that shows how the bonds of love, family, and friendship allow glimmers of hope to flourish, even in the most hopeless of times.