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Children's Illustrated Holocaust Books

Children's picture books and illustrated middle grade fiction and nonfiction about the Holocaust

In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia, a grandmother, tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps. Hidden ends with Dounia and her mother rediscovering each other as World War II ends.

Of all the places in the world, Uri really loves to be at his grandparents’ house. There he can stay up way past his bedtime and eat as many sweets from the chocolate box as he likes. There’s only one forbidden place in that house: the third drawer in Grandpa’s desk. This drawer is locked. No one ever opens it until one day when Uri finds the key to the third drawer. From that moment, nothing is ever the same.

It's World War II, and Misha's family, like the rest of the Jews living in Warsaw, has been moved by the Nazis into a single crowded ghetto. Conditions are appalling: every day more people die from disease, starvation, and deportations. Misha does his best to help his family survive, even crawling through the sewers to smuggle food. When conditions worsen, Misha joins a handful of other Jews who decide to make a final, desperate stand against the Nazis.

Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger, illustrated by Miriam Nerlove, is the story of a young Holocaust survivor who arrives at a Brooklyn yeshiva in the 1940s with only a small box that he won't let out of his sight. Karen Cushman, Newbery Medalist, calls Greenhorn "a tender, touching celebration of friendship, family, and faith." David Adler, winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book for Nonfiction, calls Greenhorn "a heartwarming and heartrending story of friendship and tragedy.

It is 1943 in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son, Carl, in their cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to neutral Sweden. The soldiers patrolling their street are growing suspicious, so Carl and his mama must make their way to the harbor despite a cloudy sky with no moon to guide them. Worried about their safety, Anett devises a clever and unusual plan for their safe passage to the harbor. Based on a true story.

From the age of five, Marcel Marceau knew he wanted to be a silent actor, just like Charlie Chaplin. As a citizen in Strasbourg, he and his family were forced to leave the city in a mass exodus of residents immediately after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. At sixteen years old, he joined the French resistance and used his drawing skills to alter information on the identity cards of children. But Marcel never forgot his dream of being a mime artist and entertaining the world.

In 1938, Lily Renée Wilheim is a 14-year-old Jewish girl living in Vienna. Her days are filled with art and ballet. Then the Nazis march into Austria, and Lily's life is shattered overnight. Suddenly, her own country is no longer safe for her or her family. To survive, Lily leaves her parents behind and travels alone to England. Escaping the Nazis is only the start of Lily's journey. She must escape many more times--from servitude, hardship, and danger.

What was it like to grow up Jewish in Italy during World War II? Sit with a little girl as her grandmother tells the story of her childhood in Rome, of being separated from her father, and of going into hiding in the mountains. It is an incredible story of bravery and kindness in the face of danger. Based on the experiences of the author's own family, this deeply moving book set during the Holocaust deals with a difficult subject in a way that is accessible and appropriate for young readers.

During the Nazi occupation of Paris, no Jew was safe from arrest and deportation to a concentration camp. Few Parisians were willing to risk their own lives to help. Yet many Jews found refuge in an unlikely place-the sprawling complex of the Grand Mosque of Paris. Not just a place of worship but also a community center, this hive of activity was an ideal temporary hiding place for escaped prisoners of war and Jews of all ages, including children.

On the eve of the Festival of Purim, a grandmother tells her granddaughter how, as a little girl, she heard the story of Queen Esther from her family rabbi. This was in 1939, in Nazi-occupied Vienna, on the eve of WWII. Soon after the rabbi begins the story of the brave queen, soldiers come to arrest him. The young girl begs for the rabbi to finish his story, and the soldiers allow him to do so. When the tale is over, the soldiers permit him to send the children home.

Anne Frank's diary telling the story of her years in hiding from the Nazis has affected millions of people. But what was she like as a small girl, at home with her family and friends; at play and at school? And how did an ordinary little girl come to live such an extraordinary and tragically short life? In the first half of the book, we meet Anne as a small child growing up with her family in Germany. Then, we follow her flight to Holland to escape the Nazis and her last heart-breaking journey.

At a middle school in a small, all white, all Protestant town in Tennessee, a special after-school class was started to teach the kids about the Holocaust, and the importance of tolerance. The students had a hard time imagining what six million was (the number of Jews the Nazis killed), so they decided to collect six million paperclips, a symbol used by the Norwegians to show solidarity with their Jewish neighbors during World War II.

In March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children's Holocaust education center in Tokyo, Japan. On the outside, in white paint, were these words: Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, and Waisenkind—the German word for orphan. Children who saw the suitcase on display were full of questions. Who was Hana Brady? What happened to her? They wanted Fumiko Ishioka, the center's curator, to find the answers. In a suspenseful journey, Fumiko searches for clues across Europe and North America.

Esther Nisenthal Krinitz tells her story of survival during the Holocaust through her art and narrative. Acompanying text by her daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, adds historical detail, context and interpretation. While a beautiful gift for both children and adults, it is also an educational resource for teachers exploring the Holocaust and themes of social justice and tolerance.

Young Henryk Goldszmidt dreamed of creating a better world for children. As an adult, using the pen name Janusz Korczak, he established a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw where he introduced the world to his progressive ideas in child development and children’s rights. When the Nazis occupied Warsaw, the orphanage was moved to the ghetto, and when the 200 children in his care were deported, Dr. Korczak refused to be saved, marching with his charges to the train that would take them to their deaths.

In 1912, a well-known doctor and writer named Janusz Korczak, believing that children were capable of governing themselves, designed an extraordinary orphanage for Jewish children in Warsaw. Even when he was forced to move the orphanage into the Warsaw Ghetto, and couldn’t afford to buy food and medicine for his charges, Korczak never lost sight of his ideals. Committed to giving his children as much love as possible during a terrifying time, Korczak refused to abandon them.

In 1958, Holocaust deniers disrupted a theater performance of The Diary of Anne Frank. In response, the well-known Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal vowed to prove Anne's story true by finding the Gestapo officer who'd arrested her and her family. Much detective work led to the 1963 discovery of the man in question. This "hook" is the framing story for a picture-book biography chronicling Wiesenthal's experiences during World War II and illustrating the development of his unusual career.

Silent as a Stone memorializes the life of Mother Maria Skobtsova, an unconventional nun who aided the persecuted Jewish people in occupied France during WWII. Confronting the horror of Nazi brutality, Mother Maria devised an ingenious plan to save Jewish children destined for extermination camps: Paris garbage collectors, upon her urging, hid the children in trash cans and whisked them to safe havens outside the city.

Milek and his brother Munio live in a sleepy village in Poland, where nothing exciting seems to happen. They reluctantly do as their mother asks and visit their neighbor Anton, knowing that the rest of the village laughs at him because of his strange habit of speaking to animals. Things change quickly when war comes to their town in the form of Nazi soldiers searching for Jewish families like that of Milek and Munio. Anton refuses to tell the soldiers where to find them.

This book, a meditation on a woman's hat on display in the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, combines a pensive prose poem with arresting collage artwork. The illustrations, consisting of pencil drawings, subdued watercolors, and old photographs, sometimes suggest a distant memory and at other times bring the reality of the Holocaust into sharp focus. Subtle yet powerful, historical and personal, this book will have a lasting impact on everyone who experiences it.

Part survival adventure, part searing history, and part discovery story, this amazing account describes how three Ukrainian Jewish families survived the Holocaust by hiding in a cave near their village for 344 days. Sixty years later, in 2003, Nicola explored the cave and found signs of human habitation. His Internet searches eventually connected him with some of the survivors, from whom he learned how 38 people, including toddlers and a 75-year-old grandmother, fled the Nazis.

Designed as an introduction to the Holocaust, this book presents the origins and history of anti-Semitism, beginning with the year 70 CE, when the Jews were forced out of Jerusalem, to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. Finkelstein uses specific incidents from history to illustrate how anti-Semitism stripped Jews of their rights and dignity. The details of the Holocaust are presented in a factual way, designed to convey the somber nature of the Holocaust without being too frightening.

Rabbi Simon Dasberg carried a tiny Torah scroll with him wherever he went. He even carried it with him to Bergen-Belsen, where he held a Bar Mitzvah for a 13-year-old boy. He gave the tiny Torah scroll to the boy as a gift, commanding him to always tell the story. It was this very scroll that Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon took into space aboard the ill-fated Columbia. His inspiring words were "This little Sefer Torah in particular shows the ability of the Jewish people to survive everything."

Grandpa loves to tell stories about his past. There was the time he was almost run over by a bus, the time he made a big dog cower, and all the scary street corners he passed by unscathed. His boyhood included encounters with Nazi storm troopers ("II didn't know how dangerous times were back then") and unimaginable losses ("One day, my Jewish friend disappeared"). From climbing the highest trees to surviving World War II, Grandpa has led an unusually blessed life.

The Last Train is the harrowing true story about young brothers Paul and Oscar Arato and their mother, Lenke, surviving the Nazi occupation during the final years of World War II. When Paul, now a grown man living in Canada, stumbles upon photographs on the internet of his train being liberated, he writes to the man who posted the pictures. Paul has the opportunity to meet his rescuers at a reunion in New York — but first he must decide if he is prepared to reopen the wounds of his past.