Monday, May 21, 2018

Bookmarks - Picture Books on World War 2

We studies World War 2 this spring which meant searching our library for books to connect with our studies. Reading about this terrible time in history helped put my own problems into perspective. 

The following book list contains picture books on World War 2. It may be difficult to read about the Holocaust and surrounding events, but they contain important lessons to learn. You may wish to preread these books to make sure your child is emotionally mature enough to handle these stories.

This  post contains affiliate links.

The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden, illustrated by Niki Daly
Piet dreams of skating the famous Elfstedentocht race, but he finds himself on an even more daring assignment on the frozen canals in the Netherlands during World War 2.

Learn the story behind the story of Curious George's escape by bicycle from German-occupied Paris. Collage-type illustrations combine with lilting prose to share the Reys' story.

The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Why are all these scientists converging on a small town in New Mexico with a secret goal? A story from the 1940's that would change our world.

Child of the Warsaw Ghetto by David A. Alder, illustrated by Karen Ritz
Froim is a young Jewish boy in Poland during the Nazi invasion. Through his story and muted art, we learn of the fate of hundreds of Polish children.

A Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz Korczak and His Children by David A. Adler, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
Korczak was an author, teacher, and doctor, but to the children at the Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, he was a father. A moving account of courage during dark days of World War 2.

The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoagland Hunter, illustrated by Julia Miner
A grandfather tells of his work as a Navajo code talker during World War 2. Rich paintings take you from the American mid-west to the Pacific islands and back again.

The Butterfly, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Monique shakes when she see the tall boots in her French village, but when she discovers a young girl in her bedroom, she is sent on a dangerous mission. Polacco turns a family story into heart-touching picture book.

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
Lush oil paintings tell a true story of compassion of the young woman who risked her life to save children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Barry Moser
We all know what happened in December of 1941 at Pearl Harbor, but now learn about the White House Christmas a few weeks later.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai, illustrated by Felicia Hoshin
Mari wonders if anything can grow in the Topaz desert heat. A kind art teacher and a new friend brighten Mari's life in the Japanese American interment camp during World War 2.

The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Wendy Watson
Can a young girl and a few cats help save the lives in the Warsaw Ghetto? A sweet story from a terrible time in Poland.

Memories of Survival by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and Bernice Stenhardt
Fleeing the Nazis, Esther and her sister disguise themselves and change their names. Years later, Esther embroidered amazing pictures depicting her life in a Jewish Poland home. A stunning book by a textile artist.

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki, illustrated by Dom Lee

Hundreds of Jewish refugees are gathering at the Japanese consulate in Lithuaia to request visas. When the Japanese government refuses to give the visas, Sugihara and his family make a crucial decision that will save the lives of thousands. An amazing true story from World War 2.

Don't Forget by Patricia Lakin, illustrated by Ted Rand
Sarah wants to bake a secret birthday cake for her mother but she doesn't want to visit the Singer's store. A view of post-World War 2 America and the importance of remembering the past.

Next I'll share a list of chapter books for children on World War 2.


  1. Oh Gina,
    Where do you find these books? Now I want to see if my library has any of them. I love good picture books. I read them myself or to my grandchildren when they are around.

    It may already be on your list of chapter books but The Endless Steppes by Esther Hautzig
    and Jesse Owens The man who outran Hitler Also The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (although this may be for teens and young adults it is intense, but beautiful in the faithfulness of God and such an example of forgiveness)

    Looking forward to your chapter books!

    1. Beth-
      Where do I find books? Everywhere. I read book review websites, search Amazon, and look through my libraries online card catalog. When I find a good book I write it down so I can find it again.

      I love Endless Steppes and The Hiding Place. There are so many great books that have been written by people who have lived the events of World War 2.

  2. Would you be willing to do a post and elaborate on the Mennonite perspective of war? I am curious on the concept of nonresistance and assume I am not the only one. I always enjoy your posts and pray for your family .

    1. Chandra-
      Thanks for the suggestion. It is a huge topic and one that I'm not sure I can do credit to, but I'll consider it.

  3. Oh! These look interesting!I have a lot of chapter books on world war 11 as I find it sadly interesting to read that part of history. My oldest daughter reads them too, but these would be great for the younger ones. I'm hoping to go to the Holocaust museum in dc sometime soon. Rosene

  4. Thanks for sharing this list. I've been using your lists of picture books to read to my 1st and 2nd graders this school year. And yes, they have been a blessing to our classroom. So sad that school is over in three days and I won't be ordering any titles off this list for this year.

  5. Boxes for Katya is a post-war story by Candace Fleming. It may be one that your children would enjoy.

    1. I forgot about that book. My children would love it.

  6. Dear Gina, this looks like a great list of books which touch upon many topics of the WW2, especially Holocaust, Poland during the war, post-war USA,France and Japan during the war...but not a single book or a word about the country which brought the victory in the WW2 - Russia (USSR at the time). There is no family which went untouched by that waR r in Russia, every family had at least one

  7. At least one member who never returned from that war . My family lost my great-grandfather.. And my 14-year old grandmother worked as a nurse at her school which was turned into a hospital. The country lost more than 20 000 000 (twenty million) people in the war. Here in Russia we remember the Victory, and of course we remember other countries involved but no doubt that the leading role in battling the German fascists belongs to the USSR! Every year there is a big Parade at the Red Square here in Moscow on May,9. This year it was held to celebrate 73th anniversary of the Great Victory. It is so strange that there are no books about Russia in your is like seeing the small stuff and ignoring the elephant!

    1. Great point. I could not find any picture books written about the Russian aspect of the war. Do you know any published in English? I'd love to add this aspect to this list.

    2. I tried to find translated books which are available to you via Amazon but no such luck. But I found a great project by one respectable news agency, it is called Children of War and is available for reading online. It is a compilation of children's diaries. Here is the link, please scroll that page until you see READ IN ENGLISH link. Thank you.

  8. Love your books lists! I've read a lot of adult Holocaust and World War II books, but very few for kids. Last year I read my students Black Radishes by Susan Lyn Meyer. It's suspenseful and the kids liked it a lot. (Note: I do edit books as I go. Though I can't recall this book needing much, you might want to do a pre-read before handing it to your child.)

    1. I really like Black Radishes too. The sequel is good, though maybe not as happy since it deals with civil rights. But important part of history for children to know, I think.

  9. Thanks again for the book selection. Never saw the book about the Elfstedentocht even though we live in the Netherlands. Im ordering it right away for my son, who loves to read in English. My kids love skating, its still a favourite past time for us Dutchies :) Greeting from the other sids of the ocean :)

  10. Thank-you so much for this compilation! I am a teacher and currently we are learning about WW 2 and the Holocaust. I had seen this post months ago after you had written it and remembered it today. I'm so glad I did. I have some of these books reserved at the library. :)


I love to hear from you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails