I know that everybody has to read at least one book about the Holocaust during their middle grade or high school years, but I apparently got a few more assignments than most. Between 5th & 8th grade I read at least 4 books for school and at least two dozen more on my own. My Holocaust education didn't stop there & probably never will, but I thought I'd share with you some of my preferred books. There's a smattering of fiction & non-fiction in here, but hopefully you'll find something that piques your interest.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry Fiction
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are "relocated". Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen's life.
The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen Fiction
Hannah thinks tonight's Passover Seder will be the same as always. Little does she know that this year she will be mysteriously transported into the past where only she knows the horrors that await.
Night by Elie Wiesel Non-fiction, Memoir
In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, a scholarly, Orthodox teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust & the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare worlds of Auschwitz-Birkenau & Buchenwald present him with an intolerable question: how can the god he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died.
Alicia by Alicia Appleman-Jurman Non-fiction, Memoir (a bit graphic at times)
After losing her entire family to the Nazis at age 13, Alicia Appleman-Jurman went on to save the lives of thousands of Jews, offering them her own courage and hope in a time of upheaval and tragedy. Not since The Diary of Anne Frank has a young voice so vividly expressed the capacity for humanity and heroism in the face of Nazi brutality.
There are also numerous websites & organizations that can be viewed in order to flesh out your knowledge.
Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum http://www.ushmm.org/
The Holocaust History Project http://www.holocaust-history.org/
Holocaust Survivors http://www.holocaustsurvivors.org/
Holocaust section of the Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/holo.html
There are thousands more, but these are my preferred sources of information. I chose this subject because it is something I don't think it taught well enough in our schools. This dark period is a lot more complicated that "the Germans killed 6 million Jews during WWII" & I think some of these books really shed some light on that. A quote I strive to live by every day is:
Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. - Winston Churchill