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.
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.
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.
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.
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.