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Reads for All Ages on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 27, 2021

The History

Today marks 76 years since the liberation of Auschwitz and, while most of us were not alive for this dark chapter in world history, it is important that we never forget the genocide that resulted in the deaths of six million Jews and eleven million others. International Holocaust Remembrance Day was designated in 2005 by the United Nations. Here we highlight a selection of titles for all ages that shed light on the experiences of those affected by the devastating events of that era.

Picture Books

Terrible Things by Eve Bunting
When the Terrible Things came and began capturing all creatures with feathers, Little Rabbit spoke up even though his fellow animals tried to silence him. This powerful allegory to the Holocaust encourages young readers to stand up for what they think is right, without waiting for others to join them.

Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon
Oskar arrives in New York City on the seventh day of Hanukkah in 1938. With only a photograph and an address for the aunt he has never met, he walks through Manhattan, experiencing the city's many holiday sights. Along the way, various residents of his new city offer gifts of welcome.

The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren
In a small fishing village in Nazi-occupied Denmark, a Jewish woman and her son hide in a sympathetic family's cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to neutral Sweden. As the soldiers patrolling their street grow suspicious, the two must make a treacherous run for the harbor.

Middle Grade

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
When Anna wakes one day to find her father gone, her mother explains that their father has had to leave and soon they will secretly join him. Anna's not sure who Hitler is, but she understands that because of him she will now have to leave everything behind.

Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine
When the curator of a Holocaust museum in Japan receives an empty suitcase with the words "Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Orphan" painted on it, she decides that she must find out what happened to Hana. This gripping real-life mystery keeps readers glued to the page.

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier
In this gentle, poetic young graphic novel, Dounia tells her granddaughter the story even her son has never heard: how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was taken in by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her hidden after her parents were taken to concentration camps.

Young Adult

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
Adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky, and authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, this is the first graphic edition of Anne Frank's peerless The Diary of a Young Girl. It remains faithful to the original, while the stunning illustrations add layers of visual meaning and immediacy.

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharecrow
Loosely inspired by the true story of boxer Max Schmeling's experiences following Kristallnacht, this isn't just a story about the terrible events in Nazi Germany, it's also a story about identity, family, and growing up. Includes an author's note detailing the factual inspirations behind the novel.

What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper
After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must start the slow process of physical and mental recovery from all that she has lost and endured.

Powerful Personal Accounts

Best known for Night, a work based on his time in Nazi death camps as a teen, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel has made it his life's work to find light and hope amidst the devastation of these atrocities. His The Tale of a Niggun is heartbreaking narrative poem about history, immortality, and the power of song, accompanied by magnificent full-color illustrations by award-winning artist Mark Podwal.

Primo Levi was a twenty-five-year-old chemist and "Italian citizen of Jewish race," who was arrested in 1943 by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even wit, Survival in Auschwitz recounts his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance.

When the war began, Irene Gut Opdyke was just seventeen: a student nurse, a Polish patriot, a good Catholic girl. Forced to work in a German Officers' dining hall, she began looking for ways to thwart their evil actions. "I did not ask myself, 'Should I do this?' but 'How will I do this?'" Her memoir In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer chronicles the growth of a hero.

There are, of course, many more novels, memoirs, and history books chronicling the events of WWII and the Holocaust. Do you have any favorites to recommend?

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