Educating Children about the Holocaust

Why is it so important that we remember the Holocaust and how can we educate children about it so that it’s never forgotten? 

Anytime you have an atmosphere filled with hate, genocide has the potential to become a reality. We are still living in times of hate. Racism, prejudice, and cruelty to others isn’t in the past. People need to remember this hate can evolve into something much worse and a repeat of history is something we don’t want to revisit.

By introducing and educating our children about the Holocaust and other acts of cruelty, we can instill in them the importance of recognizing the difference between right and wrong. Time continues to pass and this is something we need to continue to act on now more than ever. We simply can’t pass it off like it’s a fragment of history that isn’t significant anymore. It’s crucial that we remember and reflect on it.

I’ve recently come across some wonderful children’s books to help educate about the Holocaust and WWII. You can see them below, along with my ratings. There are many other books to discover on the subject, but these are a few that I think are essential tools, some of which are newly published in 2017.

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Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust

Hedy’s Journey by Michelle Bisson is a horrific, true story about a Hungarian Jewish girl named Hedy who had to travel through Germany during the Holocaust in search of safety. She takes a portion of the journey to America alone, as she is required to separate from her parents.

She and her family suffered through trials and tribulations on the unpredictable journey. Plans often changed, and she had no choice but to be brave. Follow along in the story to learn their destination and future.The author, Michelle Bisson, is Hedy’s daughter. I truly appreciate that she has taken the story about her mother’s experience and offered it to others so that they can retain this piece of history that is so essential to children’s education. In addition, I appreciated the author mentioning that it wasn’t just Jews who were persecuted.

Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in Europe all together. Eleven million were exterminated overall, including gay people, disabled people, political opponents, and others the Nazis considered less than human.

The book also contains tons of photographs of Hedy and her family as well as a timeline of events.

This book is one I believe should be integral to children’s curriculums and should be in every library.

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Thanks to Netgalley for sharing a copy with me.


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Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport by Emma Carlson Berne
Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport is the true story of some 10,000 children and their departure from their parents into an unknown future. 7 different children’s stories are brought to life along with their fate. There are pictures, poems, and letters along with descriptions of the frightening journey away from their parents. The end of the book explains whether or not their parents survived and how the children’s lives unfolded. It contains a glossary, discussion questions, and a timeline at the end.

The book is written for middle grade ages. I highly recommend this book for schools, parents, and anyone who has an interest in learning about the Holocaust.When reading books about WWII and the Holocaust, I always find myself getting emotional, and very angry. When I was in school, in my opinion, we didn’t learn enough about it. It wasn’t until I went to college that I wanted to learn more, and started to understand how important it was to remember and educate others. Kids need to read these books! We must never forget this.

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Thanks to Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.


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We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman
We Will Not Be Silent by Russell Freedman is a book about The White Rose Student Resistance Movement in Germany. Hans and Sophie were members of Hitler’s Youth, until they got wise and learned what was unfolding right in front of them. They decide that they want to expose Hitler and the Nazi regime. Their siblings also became involved. The courage and perseverance of this group is stunning.

The author does an amazing job explaining everything in chronological order and there are tons of pictures. This is a book written for middle schoolers, but It’s great for adults too.Once again, a subject that I knew nothing about, and never learned about in school.

This is a book I highly recommend for libraries, schools, and parents who want to educate their children. It’s a book for everyone.

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Survivors Club : The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein
Survivors Club : The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz by Michael Bornstein is a memoir written for middle schoolers, but its a story for all.

I personally had a lot of emotions reading it, but the story was so moving, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s told in first person and I can’t imagine what life was like for him and what his family had to endure at that time.I consider books on the Holocaust extremely integral to children’s curriculums. These books need to be brought to the attention of kids, and they need to read them, so that these stories won’t be forgotten! I think this would be a great book for schools, libraries, and even for a home library. Great for adults too.

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World War II: 1939-1945 by James I. Robertson and Mort Künstler is a book about World World II for young elementary readers.

The book talks about important events during World War II including, D-day, The Battle of the Bulge, Pearl Harbor, and also describes the war at sea, the Asian jungles, kamikaze’s, and the concentration camps.

The paintings by Mort Künstler are stunning. They are full color paintings and almost give the book a vintage feel.

I especially enjoyed the time line.

This is a another great book for elementary readers that’s engaging and different from reading in a standard textbook. Children will enjoy reading along while the paintings bring the story to life.

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 I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust by Livia Bitton-Jackson 
Blurb:
What is death all about?

What is life all about?

So wonders thirteen-year-old- Elli Friedmann, just one of the many innocent Holocaust victims, as she fights for her life in a concentration camp. It wasn’t long ago that Elli led a normal life; a life rich and full that included family, friends, school, and thoughts about boys. A life in which Elli could lie and daydream for hours that she was a beautiful and elegant celebrated poet.

But these adolescent daydreams quickly darken in March 1944, when the Nazis invade Hungary. First Elli can no longer attend school, have possessions, or talk to her neighbors. Then she and her family are forced to leave their house behind to move into a crowded ghetto, where privacy becomes a luxury of the past and food becomes a scarcity. Her strong will and faith allow Elli to manage and adjust somehow, but what Elli doesn’t know is that this is only the beginning and the worst is yet to come….

A remarkable memoir. I Have Lived a Thousand Years is a story of cruelty and suffering, but at the same time a story of hope, faith, perseverance and love.

This is a good memoir for middle schoolers and older. It’s one of my favorites.
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Blurb:
Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie’s wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author’s original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man’s capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.
Another great book on the Holocaust for middle schoolers and older. This is another favorite.
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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank 

Blurb: Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.

In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

One of the hardest and most powerful books on the Holocaust I’ve read. A good book in “Diary” format  for middle schoolers and beyond.
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Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a book I read years ago. It’s historical fiction but highlights the horror of WWII. It’s a meaningful story that demonstrates what friends will do for each other when in need.

This is an easy chapter book for middle grade students and older. I have recently re-read it as an adult and was captivated once again.

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Do you have any suggestions for children’s books relating to the Holocaust or WWII? Please feel free to comment and thanks for reading…

2 thoughts on “Educating Children about the Holocaust

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