Reading recommendations
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WWII Books for Children and Young People:
Stories for and about children in World War II

WWII Children's Books Index:

Lesson Plans and Study Guides for WWII Books

WWII Children's Books for ages  4 – 8:

The Little Ships:
The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in W
by Louise Borden, Michael Foreman (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8, Fiction
Story of a young girl and her father who sail across the English channel in their small boat to take part in the miracle at Dunkirk, rescuing British soldier from the beach.

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Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot A True Story of the Berlin Airlift and the Candy that Dropped from the Sky. Life was grim in 1948 West Berlin, Germany. Josef Stalin blockaded all ground routes coming in and out of Berlin to cut off West Berliners from all food and essential supplies. Without outside help, over 2.2 million people would die. Thus began the Berlin Airlift, a humanitarian rescue mission that utilized British and American airplanes and pilots to fly in needed supplies. As one of the American pilots participating in the Airlift mission, Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen helped to provide not only nourishment to the children but also gave them a reason to hope for a better world. From one thoughtful, generous act came a lifelong relationship between Lt. Gail and the children of Berlin. This is the true story of a seven-year-old girl named Mercedes who lived in West Berlin during the Airlift and of the American who came to be known as the Chocolate Pilot. Artist Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen's evocative paintings illuminate Margot Theis Raven's powerful story of hope, friendship and remembrance.

Christmas from Heaven, by Tom Brokaw (book & CD) Christmas from Heaven is the story of the humble beginnings of what became a beacon of hope to a war-torn land, the story of Gail Halvorsen, a young pilot in the US Army Air Corps who was assigned as a cargo pilot to the Berlin Airlift, in which US forces flew much-needed supplies into a Soviet-blockaded Berlin. Famed broadcast journalist and author Tom Brokaw brings this remarkable true story to life in a stunning live performance with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, captured on the accompanying DVD. Also included in the book is a template and directions for creating your own Candy Bomber parachutes.

Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World by Douglas Wood
Ages 6 to 9
A compelling look at two leaders who held the world's fate in their hands-- and the holiday visit that sealed a friendship and steered the course of World War II.
Review: This compelling offering gives a clue as to what it was like to be in the seat of power, watching the world burn and trying to stop it. -- Booklist (starred review)

WWII Coloring Books (Ages 4 - 8)

WWII History for Ages 9 through 12:

World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities (For Kids series) 176 pages

Excellent classroom aid, provides a comprehensive survey of the WWII era, beginning with Hitler's rise to power in 1933 to the Japanese surrender in 1945. Includes a timeline, wartime letters, interviews with soldiers and Holocaust survivors. Activities include creating a CARE package for enlisted soldiers and writing and performing a radio adventure. Forewords by Bill Clinton and John McCain.

The Good Fight : How World War II Was Won
by Stephen E. Ambrose
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the finest historians of our time, has written an extraordinary chronicle of World War II for young readers. From Japanese warplanes soaring over Pearl Harbor, dropping devastation from the sky, to the against-all-odds Allied victory at Midway, to the Battle of the Bulge during one of the coldest winters in Europe's modern history, to the tormenting decision to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic weapons, The Good Fight brings the most horrific -- and most heroic -- war in history to a new generation in a way that's never been done before. Highlighting Ambrose's narrative are spectacular color and black-and-white photos, and key campaign and battlefield maps. Stephen E. Ambrose's singular ability to take complex and multifaceted information and get right to its essence makes The Good Fight the book on World War II for kids.

World War II: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History)
Great non-fiction book for 8 to 12 year olds provides interactive history. Fifty-seven different real-life scenarios where the reader gets to pick the ending. Great fun!

War Boy
Award-winning autobiographical picture book looking at childhood in wartime England
This special new edition of the much-loved autobiographical picture book about World War II touches on life during wartime with humor, candor, and factual information. The author recreates childhood in Suffolk with his family during the war, including one of his earliest memories of an incendiary bomb which landed in his room and missed him by inches. A rare book that blends factual information with an exciting and wonderful story, this is a stunning and sophisticated story to which readers will return time and time again.
Grades 4 to 7, 96 pages
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Navajo Code Talkers
by Nathan Aaseng
Paperback, 96 pages
List price $8.95
America's secret weapon in WWII was a core group of Native American Navajos who created an unbreakable code.

Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis

Reading level: 9-12
Hardcover, 160 pages, Non-fiction

Hunter Scott, an 11-year-old boy in Pensacola, Florida, was watching the movie Jaws, listening to Captain Quint tell the story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis at the end of World War II. “Eleven hundred men went into the water. Very first light, the sharks come cruising. . . .” Hunter had a simple question: Was this a true story?
     The story of the USS Indianapolis, the worst naval disaster in American history, is indeed true. So is the story of the shameful court-martial of the ship’s captain, shameful because the loss of the ship was not his fault, and the Navy knew it. Hunter Scott became the catalyst for the survivors’ efforts to clear their captain’s name and set the record straight. This is the story of the ship, her brave sailors, their wronged captain, and a young man’s crusade to right an old injustice.

Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II by Penny Colman
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Written from a child's perspective, this award-winning book details how 18 million women, many of whom had never before held a job, entered the work force in 1942-45 to help the United States fight World War II and changed the course of history for women, and America, forever. An ALA Best Book for Young Adults. An ALA Notable Book. A "School Library Journal" Best Book of the Year.

Non-fiction accounts of African-American soldiers written for ages 9 through 12:

WWII Children's Fiction for Ages 9 - 12

Tales of the RAF (children's book series) This whole series are great books for kids and adults alike! Exciting novels based on WWII events gives the reader a real sense of history, as well as a life-lesson. That the stories are fast-paced and exciting is a bonus. Kids (and adults!) will read and re-read these books for years. The stories follow young Harry Winslow and his friendships with the pilots of the Royal Air Force in World War II England. Written for boys but appealing to all, the tales are based on history and depict values such as courage, heroism, and responsibility.

At a high reading level for precocious readers (Lexile 1000) while still staying age appropriate.

The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands In 1941 Piet, a young Dutch boy from Sluis, gets the assignment of a lifetime: He must skate along the frozen canals of the Netherlands and across the Belgian border, in order to guide two neighborhood children to their aunt's house in Brugge, where the children will remain for the duration of World War II. Their father has been taken by German soldiers, and the children are no longer safe in Sluis -- but the journey with Piet, past soldiers and enemies, is fraught with danger.

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
156 pages, Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; ISBN: 059042537, Ages 9-12
A daring adventure based on a true story about a group of Norwegian children who smuggled nine million dollars in gold past Nazi sentries during World War II. I read this adventure when I was a child and still love it today. Great action/adventure sure to fascinate both boys and girls.

Summer of My German Soldier (Puffin Modern Classics)
by Bette Greene
Reading Level: Ages 9 - 12
Paperback: 230 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 7.14 x 4.42

When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, 12-year-old Patty Bergen learns what it means to open her heart. Although she's Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi--but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own, who understands and appreciates her in a way her parents never will. And Patty is willing to risk losing family, friends--even her freedom--for what has quickly become the most important part of her life. Thoughtful, moving, and hard-hitting, Summer of My German Soldier has become a modern classic.

Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reailly Giff
Paperback: 180 pages ;
Ages 9-12
Every summer Lily and her father go to her family's house in Rockaway, near the Atlantic Ocean. But the summer of 1944 is different. WWII has called Lily's father overseas, Lily's best friend Margaret had to move with her family to a wartime factory town, and Lily is forced to live with her grandmother. But then a boy named Albert, a refugee from Hungary, comes to live in Rockaway. He has lost most of his family to the war. Soon he and Lily form a special friendship, and they have secrets to share. But they have both told lies, and Lily's lie may cost Albert his life. 

WWII Non-Fiction for Young Adults (ages 14 and up)

Great Battles for Boys: WWII Europe Great Battles for Boys is the best-selling history series that sends young readers into the fight. Learn about military leaders, weapons, and strategies. Want Boys to Read Books? Give them books they WANT to read!

Filled with amazing historic photographs, maps, and short, powerful chapters, Great Battles for Boys captures the attention of even reluctant readers. History leaps off the page through the blood, sweat, and sacrifice of men at war. Learn how these conflicts shaped the world, and why "Freedom isn't free." In this episode, the story opens with Hitler's rise to power in 1930s Germany, followed by his devastating invasion of Poland that launched World War II. In chronological order, the crucial battles storm across Europe and into North Africa, including:

  • The Battle of Britain: Germany's attempt to invade the United Kingdom
  • The Winter War: a tiny tribe of Finish soldiers defeats Stalin's massive Red Army
  • The Battle of Kursk: World's largest tank battle smolders on the Eastern front
  • North Africa: German General Rommel's Afrika Korps almost crush the Allies
  • Invasion of Sicily: British spies fool the Nazis
  • D-Day: the heroic Normandy invasion
  • Battle of the Bulge: Hitler invades Belgium and stuns novice American troops
Also in the series:

Going Solo by Roald Dahl
Reading Level: Young Adult
Non-fiction, auto-biography
, 210 pages

The story of Roald Dahl's life continues in "Going Solo," a marvelous evocation of the author's wartime exploits. As an RAF pilot in WWII, Dahl had some wonderfully exciting -- and frighteningly near-death -- experiences, including encounters with the enemy, battles with deadly snakes, and incredible dogfights.

Sky : A True Story of Courage During World War II
SYNOPSIS: From the moment she agreed to work for the underground Dutch resistance forces against the Nazis, Hanneke Eikema had only two goals--to protect the persecuted and not to get caught. After two years the teenaged Hanneke was discovered by the Germans and sentenced to life in prison. Now, Henneke tells her story in a powerful narrative. Paperback. Photos and maps. 128 p. Non-fiction.

Flags of Our Fathers : Heroes of Iwo Jima
by James Bradley
Hardcover, 192 Pages

In the winter of 1945, on the tiny island of Iwo Jima, a ferocious, battle was fought, resulting in the loss of more than 48,000 lives and producing what was to become one of the most recognizable symbols of WWII: a photograph of six soldiers raising an American flag on the peak of Mount Suribachi. One of the six, Navy corpsman John Bradley, came away from this historical moment with a deep and mysterious silence about his role in the flag raising. Even his wife heard him speak of it only once in their 47-year marriage. After Bradley's death, his son James began to piece together the facts of his father's heroism, as well as that of the other five men, all of whom became reluctant heroes because of their presence during that fateful instant when the shutter clicked and created a wartime icon.

Based on James Bradley's Flags of Our Fathers for adults, this abridged version for younger readers retains the somewhat terse drama, intense heartbreak, and bittersweet triumph of the original narrative. Through his research on the event and the soldiers (three of the men were killed in combat within days of the flag raising), Bradley explores the dubious nature of heroism and the devastating effects of war. (Ages 14 and older)

German Boy : A Child in War
by Wolfgang S.E. Samuel
(For Adult / High School Age)
As the Third Reich crumbled in 1945, scores of Germans scrambled to flee the advancing Russian troops. Among them was a little boy named Wolfgang Samuel, who left his home with his mother and sister. German Boy is the vivid, true story of their fight for survival as the tables of power turned and, for reasons Wolfgang was too young to understand, his broken family suffered arbitrary arrest, rape, hunger, and constant fear.

Young Wolfgang was forced to become the head of his household, scavenging for provisions and scraps with which to feed his family. Despite his best efforts, his mother still found herself forced to do the unthinkable to survive, and her sacrifices became Wolfgang’s worst nightmares. Somehow, with the resilience only children can muster, he maintained his youth and innocence in little ways – making friends with other young refugees, playing games with shrapnel, delighting in the planes flown by the Americans and the candies the GIs brought. In the end, the Samuels begin life anew in America, and Wolfgang eventually goes on to a thirty-year career in the U.S. Air Force.

Bringing fresh insight to the dark history of Nazi Germany and the horror left in its wake, German Boy records the valuable recollections of an innocent’s incredible journey.

Flying Higher: The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II
by Wanda Langley
Hardcover, 132 pages

In 1942 in the U.S., all military pilots were needed for combat duty, which left critical piloting jobs vacant across the land. Who would deliver the newly manufactured planes to their domestic bases? Who would train new flight crews and tow targets for anti-aircraft practice, test new planes and retest old ones? The answer was: women. 
     These elite pilots were the WASPs. Civilians all, they earned their wings so that they could undertake hazardous, and sometimes deadly, flight assignments. These young women leapt at the chance to fly an array of fighter planes, and even the big B-29 bombers that scared off many men. Adventurous in play as well as work, the WASPs got into, and out of, some hair-raising episodes. Wanda Langley has conducted extensive interviews with former WASPs, and has the insider's details of their escapades, as well as their training and service. Much of the story is seen in the life of Marie Michell, a nineteen-year-old WASP and fine pilot whose death in a crash underscores the dangers these women faced on a daily basis while doing what they did best to serve their country in war.

WWII Young Adult Fiction:

The Boys from St. Petri
by Bjarne Reuter, Anthea Bell (Translator)
Young adult (grades 7 through 10)
Translated from the Danish
Fiction, Action/Adventure

Synopsis In 1942, a group of young men begin a series of increasingly dangerous protests against the German invaders of their Danish homeland. Lars joins his brother's secret society, whose pranks to ridicule the Nazis occupying Denmark in 1940 escalate to full-scale sabotage after a young laborer shows them the real meaning of war.

I Had Seen Castles   by Cynthia Rylant
Reading Level: Young Adult

An unforgettable novel about the complexities of war as seen through the eyes of an older man looking back on his life. He was just under 18 and filled with patriotic fervor, he couldn't wait to come of age to go overseas to fight in WWII. Warning: contains graphic descriptions of battles and a melancholy ending, though still written at a level for teens. Very powerful book against the horrors of war.

True WWII stories of Children in Concentration Camps and in the Holocaust (Ages 9 through 12):

Anzio Annie recommends:
 Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Fiction, based on real events

It was read by the 4th/5th/6th grade Book Club at my kids' school and both boys and girls did read it.  A Newberry award winner. Synopsis: It's 1943. In Copenhagen the Germans begin their campaign to "relocate" the Jews of Denmark. So Annemarie Johansen's parents take in her best friend Ellen Rosen and pretend that she is a part of their family."

The Devil's Arithmatic
Foxhole Filly says:
"Number the Stars" is an excellent choice, Anzio Annie, now follow it up with Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps
by Andrea Warren
Paperback, 160 pages, reading level 9-12
List price $6.99

Caught up in Hitler's Final Solution to annihilate Europe's Jews, fifteen-year-old Jack Mandelbaum is torn from his family and thrown into the nightmarish world of the concentration camps. Here, simple existence is a constant struggle, and Jack must learn to live hour to hour, day to day. Despite intolerable conditions, he resolves not to hate his captors and vows to see his family again. But even with his strong will to survive, how long can Jack continue to play this life-and-death game? Award-winning author Andrea Warren has crafted an unforgettable true story of a boy becoming a man in the shadow of the Third Reich.


More WWII Books:
Books about Doctors, Nurses & Medicine in WWII
Best Military Books of 20th Century
WWII Books for Children and Young readers
Audie Murphy Books and Films
Battlefield Chaplains - Catholic Priests in World War II by Donald F. Crosby
Before Their Time - WWII Book Review
The Brass Ring by Bill Mauldin
Breakout at Normandy
The Bridge at Dong Ha
Canada in WWII
Carnage and Culture : Landmark battles in the rise of Western Culture
The Clay Pigeons of St. Lo
Deadly Brotherhood : The American Combat Soldier in World War II
Dearest Ones a WWII Love Story by Rosemary Norwalk
Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel
Ernie Pyle
Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley - WWII book review
German POWs in America
The Holocaust
Nazi Prisoners of War in America
No Gun Ri - A Military History of the Korean War Incident
Once Upon a Town - the miracle of the North Platte Canteen
Panzer Commander - The Memoirs of Colonel Hans Von Luck
Patton : A Genius for War
Books about the French Resistance
Redball Express
Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War : An Oral History of Korean War POWs
Roll Me Over - An Infantryman's World War II - Book Review
Seven Roads to Hell : A Screaming Eagle at Bastogne
US Army Photo Album - Shooting the War in Color
Black Sheep Squadron and Pappy Boyington Books
Vietnam Books

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