Books That Opened My Eyes to the Atrocities of WWII

For those that know me, I don’t normally pick up historical fiction novels to read for fun.  In an effort to challenge myself more and show students that I too can step out of my comfort zone with books, I have started to read more and more historical novels.  I just finished my latest book, Lilac Girls, by debut novelist Martha Hall Kelly and realized that in this year alone I have read four novels about the tragedies of WWII.  If you have students who want to learn more about WWII, here are a few books that opened my eyes!

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and The Devil’s Arithmetic  by Jane Yolen

I love these two books classic middle grade novels to introduce children to the Holocaust and WWII.  I always had students start with Number the Stars and if they wanted to learn more, I handed them The Devil’s Arithmetic.

Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

For the upper middle school and high school students who have read the ones above, I recommend they read Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys and then The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. All three delve deeper into the harsh realities of prisoners, Jews, and refugees were treated as they fought to stay alive during this horrific war.

The Nightingale and  Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

When students are still interested in learning more about WWII (or my adult friends ask for a good historical fiction novel), the ones I have been sharing this year are Winter Garden and The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah and Lilac Girls by Mary Hall Kelly (this one just came out!!!!)    The content in these three books has parts that are graphic and hard to read but the stories are all phenomenal.

**What books have you read that you would add to this list – middle grade, MS/HS, and adult?**



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