MEMORABLE HOLOCAUST PICTURE BOOKS by Sandra Bornstein
Last spring, I was a guest blogger on this site. I wrote Notable Holocaust Picture Books Illustrate People Making a Difference. In that post, I discussed the controversial topic of sharing Holocaust picture books with primary students and also provided a brief explanation about a handful of Holocaust picture books. With a limited number of words, I was only able to draw attention to six noteworthy books that focused on people who made a difference. In this post, I will share information about 8 more Holocaust picture books that provide a cross-section of information.
Once again, I stress that the introduction of topics such as the Holocaust should be carefully researched before teachers or parents talk about the subject with children. Some individuals will be better able to handle learning about horrific historical events than others.
Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II – Marisabina Russo (author)
Stories that revolve around a grandparent-grandchild relationship are always touching. This true story allows children to view the Holocaust through an engaging dialogue between a grandmother and granddaughter. Using photographs, the grandmother retells her story. Readers will learn about several historical events and how one Jewish family coped with life in Germany during World War II and survived.
BIOGRAPHIES, HISTORICAL ACCOUNT, ART, AND POETRY OF TEREZIN
Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin – Susan Goldman Rubin (author)
One approach to learning about an historical period is to read about different people’s lives. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis’ compelling story illustrates how people can make a difference even when faced with the horrific conditions associated with living in a concentration camp. Friedl exemplifies the role that adults played in helping Jewish children cope with the terrifying aspects of the Holocaust. Friedl is remembered for the secret classes that she taught and the way she encouraged children to express their hopes and dreams, as well as fears, through art.
The Cat with the Yellow Star Coming of Age in Terezin – Susan Goldman Rubin (author) with Ela Weissberger
As a young child, Ela Stein experienced many of the events leading up to the Holocaust and later on was forced to experience the concentration camp called Terezin. She attended Freidl Dicker-Brandeis’ art classes and is well known for her role as the cat in the concentration camp’s performances of Brundibar. This book highlights Ela’s experiences during the Holocaust as well as her life as a survivor.
Brundibar – Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner (authors)
Sendak and Kushner teamed up to create a picture book based on the Czech opera Brundibar. The play was performed 55 times at Terezin. Since the Terezin productions were in Czech, the German officers were unaware of the underlying symbolism of the opera. The singing of the “Freedom Song” united all who were present. For more information about Ela Weissberger and Brundibar see Brundibar and Ela Weissberger in Boulder.
I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944 – Hana Volakova (editor).
The US Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. houses the children’s art collection from Terezin. Selected samples of the artwork and some of the poetry produced by the children are included in this memorable book.
STORY BASED ON TRUE EVENTS
The Butterfly – Patricia Polacco (author and illustrator)
Award winning author Polacco uses her aunt’s story to highlight how the French Resistance found hiding places and escape routes for Jews trying to leave Nazi occupied France. The book focuses on the life threatening risks that these Righteous Gentiles faced and the bonds that that they formed with the Jews that they helped.
LEGEND- SEPARATING HISTORICAL TRUTH FROM A STORY
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark – Carmen Agra Deedy (author) and Henri Sorensen (illustrator)
Not only can this book be used to provide basic information about life in a Nazi occupied country, but it can also highlight a legend. Many stories have been passed down regarding King Christian’s X role in keeping his Danish countrymen safe from the Nazis. However, the wearing of the yellow Star of David by all Danes cannot be substantiated by historical documentation. Deedy’s research separates facts from legends.
Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat? – Nancy Patz (author and illustrator)
Museums are filled with artifacts from different time periods. Usually, little is known about an object. This simple but thought provoking book takes the reader on a series of questions regarding a hat that was on display at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. Sometimes ordinary things in life can take on greater significance.
Have you shared any of these books with primary aged children?
If not, would you consider reading any of them at a future date?
Sandra Bornstein wrote the award-winning memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life. The memoir chronicles her living and international teaching adventure in India. Sandra writes a blog that focuses on education, travel, Jewish culture, and general musing. She is a licensed Colorado teacher with a Linguistically Diverse Education K-12 endorsement and two masters’ degrees- one in education and the other in Jewish Studies. You can find her on Twitter as @sandrabornstein.