What Do I Read Next: World War II

Dear Ravenous Readers,

My 13-year old son has taken an interest in books on the Holocaust and World War II after a school assignment and he watched Schindler's List with me. We'd both like to start reading books both fictional and true. I think he would enjoy fiction books more to get him hooked. Could you suggest some titles for him and for myself?

Thank you,

Never Forget

Dear Never Forget,

You and your son have picked a genre with a wide range of books too countless to list here. I'll send along a few selections and I encourage you to continue this reading hobby with your son and come into the library ask for more selections. Our website is amazing at recommending similar titles, so when you find books you really enjoyed, be sure and look online for similar reads. Here's a search for all books on the Holocaust for children and teens in our catalog, listing all the various editions (often reluctant readers enjoy audiobooks, for instance!), and if you click on any that interest you, you'll find both professional and user reviews, and recommendations for similar titles.

I'm listing some of the books I'm familiar with in this area as valuable resources. The movie Schindler's List was actually based on a book, but since you're looking for fiction, these may offer more of the narrative structure you're seeking. I hope you will contact us again with similar requests when you and your son come up with other areas of reading you wish to pursue. It's our pleasure to get you reading.

A very classic children's novel called Number the Stars would be a good bet for both of you to read.It details the friendship of two girls and the escape of a family from Copenhagen during the occupation of World War II.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which was turned into a movie, is story of a young boy who is the son of a high ranking German command who friends another boy held inside a concentration camp. They are divided by a fence but share an enjoyment of things that small children bond over.

The Devil's Arithmetic tells the story of a modern day Jewish teenage girl who is transported back in time as a prisoner inside the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.

Hitler Youth details the true stories of young children and teenagers recruited to march for Hitler, and includes details from actual former members. The author later published a fiction book based on her research and interviews called The Boy Who Dared. He may really enjoy this story, which has since been turned into a book and movie called The Book Thief, and tells the story of a family during the war and a girl's friendships, survival and love of the forbidden books.

And finally, the classic The Diary of A Young Girl offers a firsthand account of life during the occupation of Nazi Germany, and of three families in hiding for two years. This edition includes many parts not included in the original released diary that were deemed too delicate for an audience in the 1950's. 

For even more options and stories about other young people caught up in World War II (and a few other wars), try the titles recommended by my colleague Jusdina:

Conflict that is carried on by armed hostility aka War List created by PimaLib_JusdinaNB

Take a look at different wars from a variety of perspectives through these PCPL War novels. Some even have both a book and movie so you can read, watch, and compare.

Follow the story of a young lady captured during WWII as she is questioned by SS. By the time you read through part 1 you think you understand what is going on only to be turned around in part 2. This is my all time favorite historical fiction book.

Companion book to Code Name Verity focused more on the story of the female pilots in WWII.

A different look at WWII from the perspective of a child who was shipped to Canada during the war where she lives with a Jewish family while trying to stay in contact with her Protestant family who is struggling to survive in Holland.

View Full List

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