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.
I have long loved The Yellow Star. Even though it is a legend, it has always given me hope that people did the right thing for each other. I know a couple others well, but not all. Thanks for curating this important list.
Stacey, I agree that The Yellow Star has many powerful and thought provoking messages. As a result, it was recognized as an award-winning book by these institutions:
2000 Parent’s Choice Gold Award
2000 Best Bets for the Classroom, Virginia Center for Children’s Books
2000 Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media Award
2001 Book Sense 76, Book Sense
2001 Bologna Ragazzi Award
2001 Christopher Award (books for young people)
2001 ABC Children’s Booksellers’ Choices (non-fiction), Association of Booksellers for Children
2001 Notable Children’s Books of Jewish Content, Association of Jewish Libraries
2001 Jane Addams Peace Association Honor Book Award
2001 Children’s Literature Choice List (short books or picture books with more text than usual for younger readers)
2001 Notable Books for a Global Society, IRA
2001 Teachers’ Choices (Intermediate Category), IRA
2001 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People (Selector’s Choice), NCSS/CBC
2001 Combined Book Exhibit: Children’s Books Mean Business, CBC
2002-2003 Texas Bluebonnet Master List
2001 Teacher’s Choice, International Reading Association
Selector’s Choice, 2001 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
2001 Notable Books for a Global Society, International Reading Association
2001 Storytelling World Awards Stories for Adolescent Listeners
2002 National Literary Association of England WOW! Award
2002-2003 Texas Bluebonnet Award (Master List)
2003-2004 Land of Enchantment Book Awards (Master List)
If anyone has been reluctant to share a Holocaust picture book with a child, this impressive list should hopefully shed light on the merits of Holocaust picture books.
David Adler’s Numbers On My Grandfather’s Arm is one of the best read alouds to share with the class about the holocaust. The black and white pictures depict the important events of this tragic period of world events.
Thanks for sharing Adler’s book. I will look for it the next time I go to the library. Has anyone else used this book for a read aloud? If so, what age group?
Thank you for including our book, WHO WAS THE WOMAN WHO WORE THE HAT? by Nancy Patz, in your list of Memorable Holocaust picture books. We were extremely pleased to acquire the rights to publish a digital edition of this book, which enabled us to include narration – a subtle and powerful reading of the text by the talented voice artist Kathleen McInerny. Although the original edition was inexplicably allowed to go out of print, this important book is alive and well in the StarWalk Kids streaming digital collection (and also as a single eBook from your institutional eBook provider).
Publisher, StarWalk Kids Media
I appreciate your providing an update regarding WHO WAS THE WOMAN WHO WORE THE HAT? I bought the book shortly after it was published and when I wrote the blog I saw that it was still available on Amazon. I look forward to hearing the narrated version. Has anyone used the narrated version in their classroom?
I have read and reviewed several of these books on the Holocaust. I know it is a difficult topic for kids and some people feel they shouldn’t hear anything about it until they are older, but I disagree. These books are all written with dignity and sensitivity for the age of the reader.
Alex, I agree that most of the authors who choose to write Holocaust picture books take great care in addressing the topic in a meaningful way. Oftentimes, there are multiple messages that can become prompts for lively age appropriate discussions. Nevertheless, adults who use these books need to feel comfortable with the topic and also have some background information so they can hopefully answer basic questions that may arise.
I may have missed it in a previous post, but what about the beautiful and heartbreaking Rose Blanche by Robert Innocenti? http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/830051.Rose_Blanche
Donna, Thanks for letting me know about ROSE BLANCHE. This book may be difficult to find in a library, but it is reasonably priced on Amazon.
I have a list of Haunting Holocaust Books for Kids with some of these included but I am glad to have more to add to my list. I’ll link to your post if you don’t mind: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2013/05/holocaust-books-for-kids/
Mia, I appreciate your sharing your blog about Holocaust books for kids.
Pingback: Best Holocaust Books for Kids
What a powerful list!
I agree that teaching children about the Holocaust is difficult, but also something that Jewish educators and parents find they must do. I vividly remember my own education. I was asked by Random House Children’s Books to write an early reader about Anne Frank, and I hesitated, because of the challenge and responsibility it required. I did, ultimately, decide to do it, and I fervently hope I have written something that will help and not hurt. Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree will be published on September 24th of this year, and I hope you will take a look. I do believe that parents and teachers should mediate reading on the Holocaust and read along with their children.
Mazel Tov (congratulations) on the publishing of ANNE FRANK’S CHESTNUT TREE. I look forward to reading it. I feel that all children (Jews and Gentiles) should be introduced to the Holocaust. It would be great if other authors who will be publishing Holocaust picture books would leave a comment so that people reading this Nerdy Book Club blog can learn about these new books.
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