this week: visiting world war II with children

Throughout this week I’m going to be sharing titles related to World War II.


We’ll be looking at life on the home fronts, the race for the atomic bomb, heroic efforts to rescue Jews from the Holocaust, racism in the military, and submarine warfare in the Pacific.

Japanese-American children in Little Tokyo, L.A.

Japanese-American children in Little Tokyo, L.A.

I wouldn’t even try to take a stab at how many children’s books exist– fiction, nonfiction, picture books, novels, graphic novels – related to WWII, with new titles cropping up continually. There is still so much to be learned from the experiences of that war – the self-sacrifice, endurance, dogged determination, courage, as well as visible and invisible damage for civilians and soldiers alike. So many great conversations can arise from these amazing books.

British children evacuate London

British children evacuate London

To start the week off, I have two child-friendly titles providing overviews of the war.

From a British point of view…

the-story-of-the-second-world-war-for-children-cover-imageThe Story of the Second World War for Children, by Peter Chrisp
published in 2015 by Carlton Kids in partnership with the Imperial War Museums

Heavily illustrated with photographs from the Imperial War Museum collections, this book features two-page spreads on a variety of chronologically-arranged topics.

Brief paragraphs of text and photographic captions offer engaging, informative introductions beginning with the lead-up to the war and continuing through to the Allied victory celebrations in 1945.

Coming from the UK, this book does a better job of covering the years 1939-1941 than U.S. books generally do. In fact, almost half the book takes place prior to Pearl Harbor making this a great addition to American bookshelves. There is more coverage of fighting in the Soviet Union and a more diverse look at the various home fronts as well.

Really well done, for ages 8 and up.

From an American viewpoint, I’ll recommend again a title I posted several years ago…

the-good-fight-cover-imageThe Good Fight: How World War II Was Won, by Stephen Ambrose
published in 2001 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

It provides an excellent overview of the war, with two-page spreads on topics from the obvious — D-Day — to the less-covered Aleutian campaign and Allied invasion of Sicily. Immensely readable. Chock full of historic photographs, maps, and bullet-point lists of interesting points to spark interest in further reading. My full review is here