On Monday, I wrote about Johanna Reiss’s Holocaust memoir The Upstairs Room. As a follow-up I pulled together a list of 20+ Holocaust books for children and teens.
BOOKS ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS–ALL GENRES
- Adler, David A. The Picture Book of Anne Frank.
- Bishop, Claire Huchet. Twenty and Ten.
- Bunting, Eve. Terrible Things. This picture book is subtitled “An Allegory of the Holocaust.” Illustrations by Stephen Gammell.
- Drucker, Malka and Michael Halperin. Jacob’s Rescue, a Holocaust Story.
- Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl. Most important text for adolescents by a girl who dies in the camps after writing the diary; the diary, though, is coming of age and doesn’t continue after they are in hiding and into the camps. Note that the PLAY written about Anne’s story is called Diary of Anne Frank.
- Greene, Bette. The Summer of My German Soldier.
- Hurwitz, Johanna. Anne Frank: Life in Hiding. Anne Frank for younger readers.
- Goldston, Robert. Sinister Touches: The Secret War Against Hitler.
- Heuve, Eric. A Family Secret. A graphic novel, shared by blogger Ian in a comment on my last post.
- I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Poetry and art from actual concentration camp children.
- Ippisch, Hanneke. Sky.
Isaacman, Clara. Clara’s Story. (Actual memoir of Jewish Holocaust survivor)
- Kerr, Judith. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. This is a true Holocaust story—but the protagonist barely knows she’s Jewish.
- Levitin, Sonia. Journey to America.
- Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Non Jewish protagonist.
- Meltzer, Milton. Rescue: The Story of How Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust.
- Mochizuki, Ken. Passage to Freedom by Ken Mochizuki. A picture book that describes how a Japanese official helped save Jews during the Holocaust.
- Orlev, Uri. The Island on Bird Street. Fictional Holocaust story by actual Holocaust survivor who now lives in Israel.
- Reiss, Johanna. The Journey Back.
- Reiss, Johanna. The Upstairs Room.
- Rogasky, Barbara. Smoke and Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust.
- Siegal, Aranka. Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944. Memoir of actual survivor and description of being carted off to a camp; for adolescents.
- Tene, Benjamin. In the Shade of the Chestnut Tree.
- Yolen, Jane. The Devil’s Arithmetic. Fiction about an American child who goes back in time to the Holocaust.
I did a little search online, and here is a website that has another list of books–some are the same that I have on my list, and some are different. She shares some good info, too.
And here is another great list of books about the Holocaust for kids!
After posting on Monday and “chatting” with readers, I started thinking more about the subject.
What is the difference between a book about the Holocaust for children or teens and one for adults? Is it the reading level? Is it the maturity level regarding violence, sex, and even despair?
How can the Holocaust, by its very nature an obscenity and atrocity, be written for kids?
How is this weighty subject handled in these books?
I’ve noticed that stories of the death and concentration camps written for adult readers focus on feelings of intense guilt on the part of the survivors. The mere act of eating means that each bite taken is one bite less for someone else.
In books for children the horrors are less chilling, the guilt tangible, but less complex. In Clara’s Story, Clara worries, “I felt guilty about the plans our family was making, wishing that, somehow, we could take everyone with us who wanted to come.”
What seems to be most important in Holocaust books written for children is that family members are often kept together. Family life, of some sort, usually continues throughout the course of each story. For instance, in The Upstairs Room, Annie and Sini stay together and Johann functions as a father figure to the girls.
In Holocaust stories written for adults, the singular aloneness that occurs at the camps is palpable. Family ties equate to responsibility for adults, a very heavy burden in the camps, whereas for children, family ties are a comfort.
Another difference is that adult books often delve into the protagonists’ religion or spirituality, while the children’s memoirs do not. I suspect that this is because it’s less likely that the books will be read in public schools if they mention much about religion. Maybe writers are self-censoring. Maybe publishers are censoring.
Have you noticed any other differences between a story about the Holocaust for children and one for adults?