1. Hana’s Suitcase
By Karen Levine, Grades 5–6
A suitcase bearing the name Hana Brady appeared in a Tokyo children’s Holocaust museum in 2000. The director set out to find out who Hana was.
Why it’s good: Hana’s Suitcase is a great introduction to the Holocaust for kids. The play version is coming to the Seattle Children’s Theatre January 21–February 7.
2. Parallel Journeys
By Eleanor Ayer, Middle School
This powerful work of nonfiction tells the side-by-side stories of a Jewish girl being deported to Auschwitz and the rise of a Hitler Youth member.
Why it’s good: It brings up important questions at a crucial age, and links two similar children whose lives took painfully different paths.
3. Faces of Courage
By Sally M. Rogow, Middle School
Contains 12 fictionalized accounts (based on true stories) of young people who fought the Nazis in various ways.
Why it’s good: It tells the lesser-known stories of bravery and survival, in contrast to the larger body of literature about victimization, through the eyes of youths.
4. Survival in Auschwitz
By Primo Levi; High School
Primo Levi was a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance until his arrest. He spent almost a year incarcerated at Auschwitz.
Why it’s good: In stark, restrained language free of self-pity, Levi depicts the horror he witnessed. This one will hit home.
5. The Other Victims
By Ina R. Friedman; High School
First-person accounts of Nazi persecution of non-Jewish victims, like gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.
Why it’s good: It broadens the study of the Holocaust by telling some of the stories of the millions of non-Jews targeted by the Nazis.
6. Ordinary Men
By Christopher Browning; High School
Browning interviews hundreds of men recruited by the Nazis, advancing the theory that average men, not psychopathic killers, were behind the genocide.
Why it’s good: This book chips away at the troubling question of how everyday people willingly participated in the Holocaust.