11 WWII Picture Books

Despite being picture books, many are not appropriate for younger (7 and under) readers due to subject and length. (a lot of these are a bit long, but all under 40 pages)

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin
Irena’s Jars of Secrets by Marcia Vaughan
Irena Sendler was a young Catholic social worker when WWII broke out. Heartbroken at the way her Jewish friends were being treated, Irena knows she has to do something. In the course of 18 months, Irena rescues 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.
Both books provide a wealth of information about Irena. None of the pictures are graphic, and both have beautiful illustrations. The ending has more information (aimed at adult readers) about Irena.
The Flag With Fifty-Six Stars by Susan Goldman Rubin
A true story about the prisoners of Mauthausen concentration camp, this story is aimed at older students. As the end of the war was nearing, Germany knew it would lose. At the same time, the concentration camp inmates knew their liberators would be there soon. To show their gratitude, the inmates wanted to offer their liberators a gift. They decided on a flag. At the time, the US had only 48 states, therefore 48 stars. The inmates guessed, and made the flag with 56 stars. (You can see the flag here.) Despite being a picture book, this is definitely aimed at older grades.
 

Told in a free verse-poetry format from the view of a nameless little girl, The Little Ships is a fictional story about Operation Dynamo, better known as the Evacuation at Dunkirk. In May 1940, little ships took part in the rescue of over 300,000 Allied soldiers.
I read this book twice – the second time I read it after researching Dunkirk and it made this story even better. Since the book didn’t really portray go in-depth to the surroundings, it would be best to do a little bit of research before you read this.
This fictional story is told from the view of a little boy growing up in a Japanese Internment Camp and how he grows to love baseball, despite not being very good at first. Seeing the Home Front from the eyes of a Japanese child is very interesting. Since it’s main subject is baseball, this would be best for boys.
This is a book all about the American life during WWII for any Molly McIntire fan or any introduction to WWII! This book explores every aspect of life a 10 year-old would have had during the second world war.
If you’ve ever read an American Girl book, you know at the end of each book, they have a “Peek into the past”. This large picture book is written in that fashion, with lots of great historical photos and artifacts. It covers everything from the clothing style, toys, sports, to the red cross nurses.
One night in 1944, Miss Luba found 54 Dutch children at the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. These children – mostly orphans – were all cold and hungry. Despite great risks, Luba and a few other women cared for these children until the British arrived in April 1945. In reality, 53 of these children survived the war. Even after the war, Luba cared for these children. I haven’t read this book yet, but it is based for older elementary students.

Voices of Pearl Harbor by Sherry Garland
Each page of this picture book begins with “I am” and is told by a different person effected by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The various people include US and Japanese army men, a Japanese mother, a Red Cross nurse, a Japanese-American who loves America, and a Hawaiian native. Pearl Harbor from the view of different people is very interesting. Normally you only hear of the American side, but we often forget Japanese women also lost their sons, brothers, and husbands. No corpses are shown, but some explosions are realistically portrayed. The ending has more information on Pearl Harbor, and extended reading.
Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki
This incredible true story tells the story of Chiune Sugihara, from the first-person point of view of his son, Hiroki. (His son co-wrote this book.) During WWII, this amazing Japanese diplomat lived in Lithuania, and rescued the lives of around 10,000 Polish Jews by giving them transit visas to Japan. The last few pages have more information on this amazing story.

Denmark is truly an amazing country – the people worked together to save 99% of its Jews during WWII. This story is purely fictional, based off a legend. But, it could have happened. And, I believe Denmark’s King Christian X would have done it.
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King Christian X of Denmark was known for riding around on his horse – unarmed and unguarded. Legend says after the Nazis made all the Jews wear yellow stars, King Christian X had his daily morning ride – with a yellow star on. This is that story.
Great illustrations, short, simple, I LOVED it.

Star of Fear, Star of Hope by Jo Hoestlandt
It’s been a while since I’ve last cried while reading a picture book, but this fiction story had my eyes wet. It’s July 1942, and Helen is having her birthday sleep over with her Jewish friend Lydia. Helen’s parents won’t be home from work until later, and the two friends decide to tell ghost stories until then. Suddenly, two frantic strangers with yellow stars on their coat come to their door. Lydia’s life will never be the same again.
A few notes:
1. I did not include “The Cat With The Yellow Star” on here because it is WAY too long.
2. There is a book called “My Secret Camera” I really enjoyed. It is told with little writing and mostly through real photos of the Warsaw Ghetto. It is VERY sad, but the pictures are not graphic. The pictures were taken from a hidden camera, so the pictures are not posed.

For more Holocaust picture books, see here.
What are your favorite WWII picture books?
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Samantha is an entrepreneur and a former homeschool student from Indiana, USA. When not blogging, Samantha can be found reading about WWII, trying to speak Hebrew, and wasting time on Pinterest. Her work can be found on Free Homeschool Deals, Unigo, True Aim Education, Encouraging Moms at Home, and more.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Samantha S. My favorite Holocaust book that I used for many years as an elementary school counselor is Terrible Things. I used this book many times when introducing the holocaust to elementary age children. Shalom and I love your site! Diane

  2. I cannot say enough good things about your book lists! We did a lesson on Irena Sendler and wow, what an amazing book about an extraordinary woman. We just finished another book last week that was excellent and my 8 year old is still talking about it. I believe the book was called Twenty and Ten by Claire Bishop. I love your site too! Becki

  3. Thanks for sharing this list. I’m homeschooling my almost 8 year old for the first time this year & he wants to learn more about WWII. This lust is a good starting place for us!

  4. Thanks for list! We are studying American History this year with my second grade daughter who is slightly obsessed with history (and science)! We’re in Indiana also!

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