Holocaust Memorial Day Reading List

This year Holocaust Memorial Day will be slightly different, Vision and Redbridge Council has organised a special virtual service which will be shared on Wednesday 27 January for people watch at home whilst they remember those who sadly lost their lives.

Redbridge Libraries have curated this booklist, for anyone who is interested in widening their knowledge and has been designed as a starting point based on what is available in Redbridge Libraries and is by no means exhaustive. A few documentaries have also been selected, more details are available on our Holocaust Memorial webpage.

You can access all the items via our online catalogue. Children with reading age indicated

Here are some suggestions for children with reading age 9+, many of which have as their foundation real accounts of survivors. They reflect far better the true horror of the holocaust for Jewish children.

Gleitzman, Morris – Once and its Sequels (KS2,3 Reading Age 10-12) (book)

This story follows a young boy, Felix as he escapes from a convent orphanage in the mountains of Nazi occupied Poland in search of his parents Each chapter starts with the word Once and tells Felix’s story from the convent to Warsaw Ghetto and onto the cattle train heading to Auschwitz Once I escaped from an orphanage to find Mum and Dad. Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house. Once I made a Nazi with toothache laugh.

Morpurgo, Michael – Waiting for Anya (KS2,3 Reading age 10-12) (eBook)

Jo stumbles on a dangerous secret. Jewish children are being smuggled away from the Nazis, over the border into Spain, close to his mountain village. Now German soldiers have been stationed at the border. Jo must get word to his friends that the children are trapped. The slightest mistake could cost them their lives.

Palacio, R.J. White Bird (KS3 Reading age 10-12 graphic novel) (book)

Julian is best-known as Auggie Pullman’s classroom bully. White Bird reveals a new side to Julian’s story, as Julian discovers the moving and powerful tale of his grandmother,

who was hidden from the Nazis as a young Jewish girl in occupied France during the Second World War. An unforgettable, unputdownable story about strength, courage and the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives.

Lowry, Lois – Number the Stars (KS2-3 Reading age 10-12) (eBook)

It is 1943 and for ten year old Annemarie Johansen life in Copenhagen is a complicated mix of home and school life, food shortages and the constant presence of Nazi soldiers. She knows about bravery from the stories of the dragon slaying knights that she reads to her younger sister. But Annemarie’s best friend is a Jew.

As the German troops begin their campaign to eradicate all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie is called upon for courage and a very real-life feat of bravery.

Saviet, Gavriel – Anna and the Swallow Man (KS3,4 Reading age 10-12) (book)

Krakow, 1939, is no place to grow up. There are a million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. And Anna Lania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father and suddenly, she’s alone.

Then she meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall. And like Anna’s missing father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgement, make a friend.

But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous

Hesse, Monica -The Girl in the Blue Coat (KS4 Reading age 12-14) (eAudiobook)

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days finding and delivering sought-after black-market goods to paying customers and her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the front line when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

But one day Hanneke gets a very unusual request. One of her regular customers asks her to find a girl. A girl who has disappeared from the secret room in her house. A Jewish girl…

As she searches for clues Hanneke is drawn into a dangerous web of lies, secrets and mysteries. Can she find the runaway before the Nazis do?

Kerr, Judith – When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (KS2,3 Reading age 10-12) (book & eBook)

Anna is too busy with schoolwork and tobogganing to listen to the grown-ups talk of Hitler. But one day she and her brother are rushed out of Germany in alarming secrecy away from everything they know. Their father is wanted by the Nazis – dead or alive.

It is the start of a huge adventure, sometimes very frightening, very often funny and always, always exciting.

NOTE : The author was born in Berlin and left Germany in 1933 to escape the Nazis; this story is based on her own experiences.

Adult Fiction and Memoir

The Holocaust and Nazi Persecution

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Fiction) (Large print, book, eBook, eAudiobook, DVD)

A 9-year-old girl in WW2 Germany steals books to defy the Nazi regime while her foster family hides a Jew in their basement.

Schindler’s Ark, by Thomas Kineally (Fiction) (Book)

Historical fiction based on the true story of businessman Oskar Schindler’s efforts to save the lives of over a thousand Jews in Nazi occupied Poland.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (memoir) (Large print, book, eBook, eAudiobook)

Beginning on her thirteenth birthday, Anne’s diary traces her experiences of persecution and hiding from the Nazis in WW2.

Night by Elie Wiesel (Memoir) (Book, eAudiobook)

An account of the author and his father’s experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.


In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner (Fiction) (eAudiobook)

Seven-year-old Raami’s world is shattered when the Khmer Rouge takes over. Amid forced labour, death and starvation she clings to her father’s legends and poems to survive.

A Shattered Youth, by Savathy Kim (Memoir) (Book)

This is a rare testament of one of the few survivors of the Pol Pot regime, under which the Khmer Rouge killed 1.7 million people.


Baking Cakes in Kigali, by Gaile Parkin (Fiction) (Large print, book, eBook, eAudiobook)

Set-in modern-day Rwanda, Angel’s cake business draws people from all walks of life to share their stories.

An ordinary man, by Rusesabagina Paul (Memoir) (Book, DVD)

Confronting killers, hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina managed to shelter more than 1200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the Hotel Des Milles Collines, while homicidal mobs raged outside with machetes during the Rwandan genocide. His autobiography brings the reader inside the hotel during those 100 days. The true story behind Hotel Rwanda.


The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway (Fiction) (Book, eBook, eAudiobook)

The story of three people trying to survive the siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s, while a cellist plays in their midst.

The Boy Who said Nothing: a child’s story of fleeing conflict, by Mirsad Solakovic (Memoir) (Book)

Mirsad lived through the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian civilians, until his family escaped to the UK. Following his experiences, he became difficult and intractable, and refused to speak English – until dedicated and sympathetic teachers at his school in Birmingham brought him back into contact with those around him.


What is the What, by Dave Eggers (Fiction) (eBook, eAudiobook)

A novel exploring a boy’s dangerous journey to safety with thousands of others after his village is attacked.

The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur, by Daoud Hari (Memoir) (eAudiobook)

Daoud recounts his childhood, surviving the attack that destroyed his village, and how he risked his life to guide reporters and aid agencies afterwards.

Visit the Vision website for more information on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Post author: Nina Simon


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