We have some wonderful titles for school curricula for the categories of “History” and specifically “Holocaust Education.” Importantly, most involve children and teenagers. We are confident that these touching stories will resonate with grades 8 and up. See individual books for their lexile level ratings.
Exam copies may be ordered from our catalog at Ingram Academic.
Reading Group Guides are available for download for the following 2016–2017 titles.
Adolfo Kaminsky, A Forger’s Life 9780997003475 (October 2016) would be an excellent candidate. A teacher in a Sacramento 8th grade class used the book with good success for her Holocaust section, and the book has already been included in the New York Times Scholastic booklet that goes out to 1 million young readers across the United States. As a Jewish teenager, Adolfo used his skills in chemistry to forge documents in secret labs after being recruited by the French Resistance. The efforts of his Section would help save the lives of 14,000 men, women and children in France, allowing them to hide undetected by police. Adolfo Kaminsky went on to have a 30 year career as a “humanitarian forger,” helping just causes around the world. There is a 16 minute video produced by The New York Times that could accompany the book.
The Ghetto Swinger by Coco Schumann 9780998777061 (paperback April 2018) would be great for a Holocaust section or an excellent compliment to music history. As a teenager, Coco Schumann played jazz and swing music in underground clubs in Berlin against the edicts of the Nazi regime (who called jazz “degenerate music”). They played even when bombs were falling in Berlin, and even in front of Nazi commanders who snuck into the club to have fun. Coco was “ratted out” and sent to Terezín (Theresienstadt) and Auschwitz. He amazingly avoided death with his skills, playing jazz in concentration camp bands and making music for the solace of other prisoners. At the end of the book he speaks about why he knew he must tell his story after talking to young Germans who were convinced that Auschwitz was a lie. This book is used in schools throughout Germany.
Escape Home: Rebuilding a Life After the Anschluss by Charles Paterson 9780997003468 (Part ONE) (March 2017) is the story of the Schanzer family, who fled Vienna after the Nazi occupation (the Anschluss), then Czechoslovakia, and then France, always just steps ahead of the Nazi advances. The harrowing but heartwarming story is told in a very accessible way through memories, pictures, letters and recovered documents — a nine-year-old boy and his eleven-year-old sister making their way as refugees in new languages and lands after the death of their mother, eventually being adopted in Australia as a last-ditch effort when their resourceful and loving father could find no other way to get them out of Europe. The book has strong echoes with the hundreds of thousands of refugee children living in uncertain circumstances throughout the world today.
Black Thursday by Maurice Rajsfus 9780997003499 — (June 2017) Maurice was 14 years old when he was arrested in the Vél d’Hiv raid, the largest, best organized and most infamous raid in France, sweeping up over 13,000 Jews, most of whom were immigrants and who would never return from Auschwitz. Maurice luckily survived to tell his story. He spends the first half of the book describing his family life, the details of the arrest and his escape, and then the second half detailing his search forty years later for witnesses to the crime, for documents, and even has a confrontation with the policeman, one of his neighbors, who had arrested him! The first half of the book, Operation Yellow Star, has important background information about the use of the yellow star and its history, parts of which could be excerpted for a high school class.
Hitler, Stalin and I by Heda Margolius Kovály 9780997818475 (February 2018) is the oral history of a writer/translator who speaks in an interview about her experience as a young woman (early twenties) in Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz and how she escaped from a death march. It’s short and conversational, which makes it accessible, and contains over 50 images. Heda also speaks about how she participated in the Prague Uprising (the final battle against the Nazis), and then about her husband Rudolf and his execution after a Stalinist show trial in 1952. Remember that in 2018 it will also be the 50th anniversary of Czechoslovakia being invaded by Warsaw Pact forces in 1968, so an important time to learn about the brutal Soviet control of Eastern Europe; the book has film still images of the invasion that are rarely seen, and CIA clandestine footage is also available through the National Archives. As well, a subtitled version of the film that was made from the interview could be viewed to see Heda tell part of her experience.