April 8 is Holocaust Remembrance Day, to reflect upon the loss of 6 million Jewish people and many thousands of other groups, including Roma and people with disabilities. Author-librarian Rebecca O’Connell compiled a short list of books to help adults explain such an incomprehensible act to children.
Fiction may also aid in conceptualizing what it might have been like to live through such a time. A couple of choices:
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli. Winner of the Carolyn Field Award, 2004. A naive orphan, known variously as Stopthief, Gypsy, and Jew, is taken under the wing of a new friend..
The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. During her family’s Passover Seder, Hannah is sent back in time to a concentration camp.
Rebecca has also created a list of books generally about Jewish people in several genres. A few examples:
Yee, Lisa. So Totally Emily Ebers. “In a series of letters to her absent father, twelve-year-old Emily Ebers deals with moving cross-country, her parents’ divorce, a new friendship, and her first serious crush.”
Hesse, Karen. Brooklyn Bridge. “In 1903 Brooklyn, fourteen-year-old Joseph Michtom’s life changes for the worse when his parents, Russian immigrants, invent the teddy bear and turn their apartment into a factory, while nearby the glitter of Coney Island contrasts with the dismal lives of children dwelling under the Brooklyn Bridge.”
O’Connell, Rebecca. Penina Levine Is a Hard-Boiled Egg. “With only her best friend to lean on, forthright Penina celebrates Passover while she contends with a bratty younger sister and a seemingly unsympathetic sixth-grade teacher.”
Penina Levine Is a Potato Pancake. “When she finds her best friend is going to Aruba for vacation and her favorite teacher is taking a long leave of absence, sixth-grader Penina is not looking forward to Hanukkah with her little sister who is always stealing the spotlight.”
Fleischman, Sid. Escape: The Story of the Great Houdini. A biography of the magician, ghost chaser, aviator, and king of escape artists whose amazing feats are remembered long after his death in 1926. Profiling his early years, personal life, and great accomplishments in show business, the story of the famous magician, Harry Houdini, comes to life through a review of his greatest tricks and most amazing feats, complete with index, photos, and author’s notes.
For more suggestions, check out the Association of Jewish Libraries.