Written by Mallory Jones
Friday, January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and I wanted to take this opportunity to showcase books that we have in the children’s department for a wide range of ages. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states on their website that this day is used as a way to promote education about the Holocaust in hopes of preventing future antisemitism and genocide. I have four books that I want to highlight from the children’s collection: Nicky & Vera by Peter Sís, I Survived The Nazi Invasion, 1944 by Lauren Tarshis, Surviving the Angel of Death The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri, and Survivors of the Holocaust True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children edited by Kath Shackleton.
The first book I wanted to showcase is Nicky & Vera, a nonfiction picture book by Czechoslovakian award winning author Peter Sís. This is a beautiful story about Nicholas Winton, who helped almost 700 children escape Prague before World War II began. He secretly set up in a hotel room and would take names and photographs of children from their parents, so that he could arrange safe transport for them to England. With the information provided by their parents, he worked on getting the correct travel documents and visas, and even arranged foster homes. Nicholas’s story parallels Vera, one of the children he saved. The book walks through her life before, during, and after the war. Vera survives the war and her journey to England, but she learns that she is the only surviving member of her family. Nicholas’s rescue efforts went unrecognized for nearly fifty years. This is a longer picture book but the information presented is approachable for a younger audience.
I had to mention I Survived The Nazi Invasion, 1944 by Lauren Tarshis because of how popular her I Survived series is. I would recommend this series and this book in particular for 1st-4th grade depending on their reading level. We have the regular print book and the new graphic novel edition, which is printed in full color. All of the I Survived books follow fictional accounts of children living through historical events. I am always very impressed by Tarshis’s writing and research because she writes about historical events in such an attention-grabbing way for this age group. This fictional account of the Nazi invasion follows Max and his sister, Zena, as they try to survive living in a Polish ghetto after they were separated from their father. There is barely enough food and water for them to survive, so they take a chance and attempt to escape. The rest of the story follows them after escaping and what happens after the war.
For the middle grade crowd, the graphic novel Survivors of the Holocaust True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children edited by Kath Shackleton and illustrated by Zane Whittingham should be required reading. Kath collaborated with the children in the story to write their stories of survival. There are stories of being interned, living through Kristallnacht, and surviving Auschwitz. With how popular graphic novels are for this age group, this would be a great pick to dive a bit deeper into the history of the Holocaust and WWII. In the back of the book, there are photos of the children as adults and they have a short blurb about their life after the war. There is also a glossary of terms, a timeline of events, and a list of recommended resources. So far, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I cannot recommend it enough for middle grade students and adults.
The last book on my list of recommended reads is Surviving the Angel of Death The Story of Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri. I am so glad that I was finally able to take the time to read this memoir, it has been on my TBR list (to be read) for so long! Eva Mozes Kor was only ten years old when she arrived at Auschwitz with her family and she was immediately separated from her parents and two older sisters. Eva and her twin sister Miriam were in demand for Dr. Josef Mengele’s torturous experiments. Throughout Eva’s memoir, the details of the experiments and exactly what Dr. Mengele was trying to accomplish still remains a mystery. I was taken aback and moved by the epilogue where Eva writes about forgiveness. I really appreciate that this book is also approachable for younger children and adults, this would be an excellent book to read along with your child.
I hope that you were able to find new books for you or your child to read about the Holocaust. Learning and reflecting is a powerful tool we can all do to ensure that something so atrocious never happens again.
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