9 Powerful WWII Books for Kids

Powerful WWII Books for Kids

World War II is a very difficult time in our history and an even more difficult topic to discuss with kids. This list of WWII books for kids addresses this difficult topic in a way that is perfect for kids to understand.

These books are powerful stories that will allow your kids to learn about WWII with sensitivity. You’ll find both fiction and non-fiction options on this list.

*the WWII book for kids Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Holocaust WWII Books for Kids

number the stars

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

This is a very powerful middle-grade historical fiction that I think every child should read. This Newbery-Medal Winning book takes place during WWII in Denmark.

This book captured so much emotion, the beauty of friendship, and the power of kindness all while avoiding bringing in gruesome facts about the war. In fact, this book emphasizes the small miracles that took place in order to save Denmark’s Jewish population. This WWII book for kids that is a must-read.

Diary of a young girl

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This is the quintessential book about the Holocaust written by Anne Frank, a Jewish girl in hiding during WWII.  Although she did not live to see freedom, her father survived as did the diary that she kept during her years of hiding. 

This is a powerful book that captures the neverending capacity for hope in the human spirit. After all, Anne said it best when she said “in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart”.

This is one of the non-fiction picks on the list of WWII books for kids.

Briar Rose and more books by Jewish writers

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

This historical fiction book for teens was such an unexpected beauty for me.  Books about the Holocaust are most often inherently extremely heavy.  I love the way this book is a fairy tale retelling of Briar Rose (AKA Sleeping Beauty) that turns it into a story about the Holocaust. 

It does not trivialize the atrocities of that time but rather, it makes the subject more approachable to a younger audience.  Beautifully written and well done. This is one of the books for a 13-year-old that adults will love and a must-read from WWII books for kids!

For more books like these, check out our list of Holocaust Books!

WWII Books for Kids

White bird

White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J Palacio

This graphic novel came my way through my local bookstore and it was a beautiful surprise for me.  I loved Wonder.  The story was told beautifully and with compassion. 

I wondered if I would be disappointed with how a story about the holocaust would translate into a graphic novel and whether the story could be told with an equal amount of compassion. Happily, I was not disappointed at all. 

I loved this book.  It is so poignant and powerful with a message of kindness that is so relevant today.

Find this book in Full Cast Audiobooks / WWII Books for kids/ Books with Color in the Title

the book thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is a magical realism book that is narrated by Death. And in this haunting magical realism book, he tells the story of Liesel, a young girl in Nazi Germany in 1939. Liesel is living with her foster parents and learning to read from stolen books.

She also shares these books with the Jewish man who is hiding in her basement. This book is brilliant, powerful, poignant, and unforgettable. While technically a YA historical fiction book, this book is fiction at its finest and is a must-read from our list of WWII books for kids. This is one of my favorite thought-provoking books.

The war that saved my life

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I read this realistic fiction book in a few hours and immediately ordered the sequel The War I Finally Won.  Ada is a 10-year-old girl who lives in a one-room world gazing at the world from one window.  She was born with a club foot and teaches herself to walk in secret.  When the children who lived in London were evacuated to go to the country at the start of WW2, Ada escapes her abusive mother and leaves London with her little brother.

There is so much depth to this book.  It is a Newbury Honor book and the Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award for middle grade. This middle grade historical fiction is a story of love and survival in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

Do not be fooled by this middle grade fiction. It is emotionally crafted and brilliantly written and is my favorite on the list of WWII books for kids.

code girls young

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy (YA EDITION)

I’m not generally a huge non-fiction reader unless the topic is of particular interest to me. Having seen the Imitation Game and read quite a few non-fiction books about coding in war times, I thought this one would be interesting.

It was a truly fascinating read! I loved finding out about the trials and tribulations of the real-life heroes of the war. I love the kids version of the same WWII non-fiction book too.

Multi-Cast WWII Books for Kids

echo

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

The story is three tales woven together in one with a magical harmonica at the center. The story follows a harmonica as it lands in the hands of Freidrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California.

Part fairy tale and part historical fiction, this is one story that is amazing for middle grade and adults alike. Each child has their own adventure but the end brings the three stories together in a beautiful way.

Why We Love This Book: I listened to this feel-good book and it blew me away. The full-cast audiobook plays music so it is a full sensory experience. In our opinion, this story is best in audiobook format. 
Appropriate for ages 10-12
Find this book in
World War II Books for Kids / Magical Realism Books / Books for 13-Year-Olds / Audiobooks for Kids / Novels About Music

Refugee and more books for 13-year-olds

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Three tales in one, this realistic fiction story is told in alternating chapters by three narrators.  The stories feature Josef, a Jewish refugee fleeing WWII Germany, Isabel a Cuban girl on her way to Miami in 1994, and Mahmoud a Syrian refugee seeking asylum in Germany in 2015. The chapters rotate between the three characters and their stories do connect at the end in a meaningful and moving way.

The characters are all about 13-years-old but shoulder burdens that would be hard for an adult to handle. Gratz accurately portrays each child’s struggle with both grace and clarity – not shying away from difficult emotions and even death. If you love this YA historical fiction book, we have a list of Powerful WWII Books for Kids.

Did you find a WWII book for kids to read? Let us know which one.

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