The most recommended books about children in the Holocaust

Who picked these books? Meet our 12 experts.

12 authors created a book list connected to children in the Holocaust, and here are their favorite children in the Holocaust books.
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Book cover of Nicky & Vera: A Quiet Hero of the Holocaust and the Children He Rescued

Erik Christopher Martin Author Of The Case of the French Fry Phantom: Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth Book One

From Erik's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Storyteller Social Worker Tabletop role playing gamer Reader Perpetual student

Erik's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Erik Christopher Martin Why did Erik love this book?

During World War Two, an Englishman named Nicholas Winton anonymously saved the lives of 669 Jewish children living in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia by arranging visas and finding foster homes for each one.

The book tells the story through the experience of Vera, one of the children saved by Mr. Winton. While he never told anyone about his actions, years later, his wife found the records and arranged a surprise meeting between Nicholas and dozens of the children, now middle-aged adults, whose lives he saved. I was brought to tears reading it, not just the first time, but when I re-read it prior to writing this.

A heartwarming book and an amazing story about the good one compassionate person can do.

By Peter Sis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nicky & Vera as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

In 1938, twenty-nine-year-old Nicholas Winton saved the lives of almost 700 children trapped in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia-a story he never told and that remained unknown until an unforgettable TV appearance in the 1980s reunited him with some of the children he saved.

Czech-American artist, MacArthur Fellow and Andersen Award winner Peter Sis dramatises Winton's story in this distinctive and deeply personal picture book. He intertwines Nicky's efforts with the story of one of the children he saved-a young girl named Vera, whose family enlisted Nicky's aid when the Germans occupied their country. As the war passes and Vera grows up, she…


Book cover of Catherine's War

Nicki Cornwell Author Of Christophe's Story

From my list on asylum-seeking and displaced children and war.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two books that I read as a young child were very important to me. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss made me think about riches, poverty, and the power that rich people have to make stupid rules; and poor people have no choice but to obey them. The Japanese Twins from Lucy Fitch Perkins' series on twins from different cultures gave me a life-long interest in cultural differences. Not only did they think differently, depending on their culture, they also had different skin colours. Later I learned about racism when I worked with unhappy displaced children and interpreted for asylum-seekers. I write from a child's perspective, making books accessible to all ages.

Nicki's book list on asylum-seeking and displaced children and war

Nicki Cornwell Why did Nicki love this book?

I chose this story to illustrate the plight of Jewish people during the Nazi occupation in France. Catherine's War is based on the true story of a Jewish girl named Rachel Cohen who had to leave her boarding school near Paris and find somewhere safe to live. Rachel has to change her name to Catherine Colin and hide her Jewish identity in order to survive. She was sustained by her beautiful camera, which gave her a record of all that she had to through.

By Julia Billet, Claire Fauvel (illustrator), Ivanka Hahnenberger (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catherine's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

“A shining story of a young girl who struggles to come of age and find her place in a world fraught with danger.” —Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hitler Youth

* Winner of the Youth Prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival (voted by readers) * Winner of the Artémisia Prize for Historical Fiction * Winner of the Andersen Premio Prize *

A magnificent narrative inspired by a true survival story that asks universal questions about a young girl’s coming of age story, her identity, her passions, and her first loves.

At the Sèvres Children’s Home outside Paris,…


Book cover of A Wolf in the Attic: The Legacy of a Hidden Child of the Holocaust

Helen Epstein Author Of The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma

From my list on trauma and recovery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a longtime American journalist and former New York University Professor of Journalism who has written 10 books of non-fiction, several addressing issues of trauma. I was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia to two survivors of the Holocaust and was a baby immigrant to the U.S. after the Communist take-over of 1948. Although I have written a lot about the arts (music, books, and theater), I have also had a long-term interest in the psychological effects of psychic trauma in survivors of racism, antisemitism, sexism, genocide, war, illness, and natural disaster. My upcoming book is The Year of Getting Through It about being diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for endometrial cancer during COVID.

Helen's book list on trauma and recovery

Helen Epstein Why did Helen love this book?

A Wolf in the Attic by Sophia Richman is a book written by a psychotherapist who was hidden in an attic in Poland as a Jewish child during the second world war. She describes this experience (she was told to never utter a sound) as well as its impact on her relationship with her parents and her life after the war in Paris and then in New York City. She maintained her reluctance to speak in public until very late in life and this book is a kind of coming out for what is now known as a “hidden child” or “child survivor.” I found it fascinating to read how a psychologist analyzes her own childhood and the life choices she makes as an adult.

By Sophia Richman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Wolf in the Attic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Wolf in the Attic: Even though she was only two, the little girl knew she must never go into the attic. Strange noises came from there. Mama said there was a wolf upstairs, a hungry, dangerous wolf . . . but the truth was far more dangerous than that. Much too dangerous to tell a Jewish child marked for death. One cannot mourn what one doesn't acknowledge, and one cannot heal if one does not mourn . . . A Wolf in the Attic is a powerful memoir written by a psychoanalyst who was a hidden child in Poland…


Book cover of Album of My Life

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Author Of Find Me Again: A Rebecca Temple Mystery

From my list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a child of Holocaust survivors who spent three years in slave labour camps. My mother told me stories of her experiences a child should probably not hear. The result is that my philosophy of life, and sometimes my writing, can be dark. It’s no surprise that this period of history imbues my novels. I chose to write mysteries to reach a wider audience, the Holocaust connections integral to the stories. During my research, I discovered a wealth of information on the Holocaust but learned that memoirs revealed best what happened to people on the ground. Memoirs draw you into the microcosm of a person’s life with its nostalgia, yearning, and inevitable heartbreak.

Sylvia's book list on Holocaust memoirs to understand what real people experienced

Sylvia Maultash Warsh Why did Sylvia love this book?

Ann Szedlecki’s richly detailed memoir starts: “I am the daughter of nobody... Who am I? My past is gone, disappeared.” As a student in my writing class for seniors, her slightly-accented voice read out excerpts of her poignant manuscript. How do you remember all this, I used to ask. She would just smile sadly. Her story begins in pre-war Poland, showing us the loving family later destroyed. When the Nazis invade, Jews are beaten and killed at random in the streets. At fourteen, she and her older brother head east to the Soviet Union, ending up in Siberia. A gifted writer, she depicts the brutality of life in a labour camp but also the kindness of strangers; then the heartbreaking description of returning to Poland to find none of her family survived.  

By Ann Szedlecki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Album of My Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ann Szedlecki was a Hollywood-film-loving fourteen-year-old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and she fled to the Soviet Union with her older brother, hoping to return for the rest of her family later. Instead, she ended up spending most of the next six and a half years alone in the Soviet Union, enduring the harsh conditions of northern Siberia under Stalin’s Communist regime. Szedlecki’s beautifully written story, which lovingly reconstructs her pre-war childhood in Lodz, is also compelling for its candour about her experiences as a woman in the Soviet Union during World War II. As a very young…


Book cover of The Twins of Auschwitz: The inspiring true story of a young girl surviving Mengele's hell

Allan Zullo Author Of Survivors: True Stories of Children in the Holocaust

From my list on about children in the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have penned more than 120 nonfiction books on a broad range of subjects for general audiences and middle-school readers, including five books about the true-life experiences of young people during the Holocaust.  The most heartbreaking, yet inspiring, moments in my decades-long writing career have been my interviews with Holocaust survivors, who, as children, relied on their courage, their faith, their smarts—and sometimes their luck—to endure years of unbelievable terror.

Allan's book list on about children in the Holocaust

Allan Zullo Why did Allan love this book?

In this engrossing first-person account, Eva Mozes Kor tells the horrifying story of how she and her twin Miriam were ten years old when they lost their family to the gas chambers and were subjected to the sadistic medical experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele, the personification of evil. Written for young adults, Eva presents a unique and chilling child’s-eye view of how she and her sister persevered despite suffering under the madness of the Angel of Death.

By Lisa Rojany, Eva Mozes Kor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twins of Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

The Nazis spared their lives because they were twins.

In the summer of 1944, Eva Mozes Kor and her family arrived at Auschwitz.

Within thirty minutes, they were separated. Her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, while Eva and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man who became known as the Angel of Death: Dr. Josef Mengele. They were 10 years old.

While twins at Auschwitz were granted the 'privileges' of keeping their own clothes and hair, they were also subjected to Mengele's sadistic medical experiments. They…


Book cover of The Diary of Laura's Twin

Kathy Clark Author Of Ivan's Choice

From my list on youth during the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Kathy's book list on youth during the Holocaust

Kathy Clark Why did Kathy love 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.

By Kathy Kacer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Diary of Laura's Twin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Title: The Diary of Laura's Twin <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: KathyKacer <>Publisher: SecondStoryPress


Book cover of The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible....on Schindler's List

Elaine Orr Author Of Falling Into Place

From my list on World War II for teens who love a good story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the U.S. author of more than thirty books, many of them traditional or cozy mysteries. As the daughter and niece of several World War II veterans, I grew up hearing some of their experiences – they left out the horror. But I did see the impact those travesties had on gentle people. I often marveled at the courage of those who fought without weapons to survive the deprivation and loss of many loved ones. And I’m glad I had opportunities to visit Germany and Japan as an adult, to see the friendships our nations foster today.

Elaine's book list on World War II for teens who love a good story

Elaine Orr Why did Elaine love this book?

As a child, Leon Leyson (originally Lieb Lejzon) and his family of observant Jews moved from rural Poland to Krakow, where they became part of the Jewish ghetto and were eventually sent to Nazi concentration camps. Cruelty and near starvation would have led to death had not Oskar Schindler added them to his employees, first at an enamelware plant and later at an armaments factory.

Lieb had to stand on a box because he was so small. As Leon Leyson, he wrote the book as an older man, long a U.S. citizen, and educator. Through a child’s eyes, the horrors of the camps seem even more surreal. Lieb lost family members, but Schindler’s pragmatism and timely bribery of Nazi officials saved Lieb and many more from the Final Solution. 

By Leon Leyson, Marilyn J. Harran, Elisabeth B. Leyson

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy on the Wooden Box as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson's life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers…


Book cover of Helga's Diary: A Young Girl's Account of Life in a Concentration Camp

Elizabeth B. Splaine Author Of Swan Song

From my list on WWII with unique plot lines and perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a retired opera singer, I have sung many of the songs that are featured in the book. I first became interested in Terezin when I sang with an opera company that was performing Brundibar, a children’s opera (composed by Hans Krasa, who was imprisoned in the camp) performed more than 50 times in Terezin. As a psych major (having written several medical/psych thriller books as well) I am constantly questioning the idea of choices and the consequences that fall from them. War challenges our notion of humanity, hope, and choice, and perhaps writing helps me work through some of those questions I have…what would I do in that situation? 

Elizabeth's book list on WWII with unique plot lines and perspectives

Elizabeth B. Splaine Why did Elizabeth love this book?

There are several books I could recommend written by adults who were imprisoned as children in Terezin during the war, but this one stands out because of its artwork interspersed with factual accounts of daily life. Indeed, it’s the factual perspective she takes in her descriptions that makes them so heart-wrenching. Her map was my primary tool in writing descriptions of the camp, and her artwork, imitating her writing style, comes across as stark and factual. Written as a diary, not a novel, I cried at the cruelty with which her life unfurled before her. At the same time, however, she manages to capture the beauty of being a child, full of hope and promise. That balance makes the book a jewel.

By Helga Weiss, Neil Bermel (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Helga's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1939, Helga Weiss was a young Jewish schoolgirl in Prague. As she endured the first waves of the Nazi invasion, she began to document her experiences in a diary. During her internment at the concentration camp of Terezin, Helga's uncle hid her diary in a brick wall. Of the 15,000 children brought to Terezin and deported to Auschwitz, there were only one hundred survivors. Helga was one of them. Miraculously, she was able to recover her diary from its hiding place after the war. These pages reveal Helga's powerful story through her own words and illustrations. Includes a special…


Book cover of Good-Bye Marianne

Kathy Kacer Author Of Under the Iron Bridge

From my list on the Second World War and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm the child of Holocaust survivors. I grew up with parents willing to talk about their survival experiences and do so in a way that wouldn't terrify me. I asked a million questions that my parents willingly answered. I grew up passionate about this history and determined to write their stories and the stories of other survivors. I'm aware that this generation of survivors is aging and passing away. Their "voices" will soon be gone. I feel a responsibility to capture these stories and write them for the next generations. I'm about to have my thirtieth book about the Holocaust published! And I've got more book ideas on the go.

Kathy's book list on the Second World War and the Holocaust

Kathy Kacer Why did Kathy love this book?

I love historical fiction that reveals little-known elements of real history. That's why I loved this book so much. It tells the story of the Kindertransport - an initiative to save thousands of Jewish children by sending them to England just before the outbreak of the war. The protagonist of this book is modeled on the real-life story of the author. Irene Watts was only 7 1/2 years old when she was sent to England by Kindertransport. I could feel this young child's fear and uncertainty oozing from every page of this book.  

By Irene N. Watts, Kathryn E. Shoemaker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Good-Bye Marianne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking story of loss and love.

As autumn turns toward winter in 1938 Berlin, life for Marianne Kohn, a young Jewish girl, begins to crumble. First there was the burning of the neighbourhood shops. Then her father, a mild-mannered bookseller, must leave the family and go into hiding. No longer allowed to go to school or even sit in a café, Marianne’s only comfort is her beloved mother. Things are bad, but could they get even worse? Based on true events, this fictional account of hatred and racism speaks volumes about both history and human nature.


Book cover of No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War

Lois Lowry Author Of On the Horizon

From my list on war through the eyes of children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’d like to say I have no expertise in this topic. And yet…don’t we all?  We’ve all lived through it. I was born in 1937—in Honolulu, the daughter of a US Army officer. WW II was a pervasive part of my childhood, as my father spent time in the Pacific and then after the war ended, we lived in Occupied Japan for some years.  But war had always been a part of my family’s history, as is true for so many people. My great grandfather left a written account of his capture and imprisonment during the Civil War.  And much more recently, my own son, an Air Force pilot, died in the cockpit of a F-15.  Ironically, he had married a German wife, and he is buried in her village cemetery near her grandfather, who served on the Russian front years earlier.  His child, my granddaughter, puts flowers on both of those graves. All of these pieces of my own history combine, I think, to create this passion I have for the telling and retelling of stories that can make us more aware of the futility of war.

Lois' book list on war through the eyes of children

Lois Lowry Why did Lois love this book?

Five years old when the Nazis invaded her homeland of Poland, Anita Lobel spent the war years in hiding. Her memoir is intimate and suspenseful and even occasionally funny.  Here’s a glimpse… through the eyes of a real child…of what survival means, and of those who helped her achieve it.

By Anita Lobel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Pretty Pictures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anita Lobel was barely five years old when World War II began and the Nazis burst into her home in Kraków, Poland. Her life changed forever. She spent her childhood in hiding with her brother and their nanny, moving from countryside to ghetto to convent—where the Nazis finally caught up with them.

Since coming to the United States as a teenager, Anita has spent her life makingpictures. She has never gone back. She has never looked back. Until now.