The best books about youth during the Holocaust

Kathy Clark Author Of Ivan's Choice
By Kathy Clark

Who am I?

I am a child of Holocaust survivors. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I truly appreciated the horrendous circumstances that they lived through. But even more than their plight and will to survive, I was impressed with the heroism of the people willing to sacrifice their lives in order to help others. It is their story, above all else that I want to tell in my books.


I wrote...

Ivan's Choice

By Kathy Clark,

Book cover of Ivan's Choice

What is my book about?

“I’m not Hendrik,” he said. “I am Jakob. Jakob Kohn. And I am a Jew!” Ivan and Hendrik have been best friends for years. Then in the fall of 1944, when they are both 13, Hendrik makes an astounding revelation which forces Ivan to make some very difficult choices - choices that will impact both of their lives, and the lives of their families forever. Ivan must now maneuver through the intricacies of life in Nazi - occupied Hungary and within his own family without giving away his secret allegiance.

Ivan’s Choice is a companion book to The Choice, giving Ivan’s side of the story. It is a story of courage and the inner conflict that many young people confront when establishing the values they want to live by. Ivan's Choice is a novel inspired by real events.

The books I picked & why

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Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

By B.M. Mooyaart, Anne Frank,

Book cover of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Why this book?

Though my preference tends to be for works of fiction, I love this Holocaust classic which, being a diary, draws the reader immediately into the life of 13 year old Anne. It is a highly captivating book, intimately sharing the thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears of this young girl on the verge of adulthood. It also has a fair bit of drama as she tells of the interactions between the other people in hiding with her and their constant fear of discovery.

I find that it is especially pertinent in the present time, when because of the Covid 19 restrictions we can all relate to how it feels to be separated from friends, family and the normal activities of everyday life. Anne’s hopeful attitude and means of coping is an inspiring example.


I Am David

By Anne Holm, L.W. Kingsland (translator),

Book cover of I Am David

Why this book?

I Am David is a unique story about a boy born in a concentration camp whose only experience of life is one of hardship and cruelty. Aside from his mother, he has known no kindness from people. When he is suddenly thrust into the free world all alone, he is scared of everyone and doesn’t know how to survive. Together with David, the reader is taken on an extraordinary journey of discovery of the goodness of life and love.


After the War

By Carol Matas,

Book cover of After the War

Why this book?

I like this book because it shows in an exciting and engaging way, that a war is not over, just because it is declared to be over. For many survivors, such as Ruth Mendenberg, it is the beginning of a new war in which they fight to re-establish their identity and their right to a place to call home once again.


The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak,

Book cover of The Book Thief

Why this book?

I recommend this book because it is a very engaging story of many different aspects of people's experiences during WW2. It leads the reader to feel the confusion and horror of the reality of the war through the eyes of young Liesel, the 'book thief'. Through her we see and experience how the war impacts both the lives of the persecuted Jews as well as those of the people trying to protect them and also those willfully ignoring what is going on. This book is not only informative and exciting, but also introduces readers to the realm of wonders that books can inspire in their own lives.


The Diary of Laura's Twin

By Kathy Kacer,

Book cover of The Diary of Laura's Twin

Why this book?

This story effectively unites the present with the past. Two girls anticipate their Bat Mitzvah in very different circumstances. Laura learns to appreciate the freedoms she has to make her own choices through the past life of a girl the same age as her but facing severe limitations. It is a thought-provoking book for young teens.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Holocaust, Eastern Europe, and children in the Holocaust?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Holocaust, Eastern Europe, and children in the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Explore 179 books about the Holocaust
Eastern Europe Explore 30 books about Eastern Europe
Children In The Holocaust Explore 11 books about children in the Holocaust

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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