Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) is one of the most beloved authors/illustrators and most readers know him as an author of children's books. But Geisel also was an award winning film producer. During World War II he produced films for the military. One of his films, Your Job in Germany was later released by Warner Brothers for the public under the title of Hitler Lives. Geisel won an Academy Award in 1945 for the best documentary short subject of the year. Two years later he won another Academy Award for best documentary feature for Design for Death, a history of the Japanese people, written in collaboration with Helen Palmer Geisel (his wife). After three years with the army, Geisel left the army as a lieutenant colonel and resumed his writer's career.
Historians agree that Geisel set out to moralize in only two of his many books. Yertle the Turtle is a parable on Hitler. Horton Hears a Who is a message for all people. The tiny Whos symbolize the Japanese people, defeated in war and now seeking their own democracy. All people can listen to his lesson summed up in one line from the book, "A person is a person no matter how small." These stories were possibly an outgrowth of the work Geisel did in producing Design for Death in 1947.
Since Geisel's parodies many other writers have written books about events during World War II.
Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany less than three months later he was the country's dictator. World War II began in the European countries in 1939 and soon involved Japan and other powers. The United States did not enter the war until being bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. The war ended officially in 1945.
When the Germans invaded Paris France, many French fled the city. Among those fleeing were Margret and H.A. Rey. They peddled to the border on their bicycles with only a few clothes and the manuscript of what was to become Curious George. Their amazing story is told in The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden (Illustrated by Allan Drummond; Houghton Mifflin, 2005). More about the book (online) at Houghton Mifflin's site.
Oppenheim, Joanne. (2006) Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference. Scholastic Nonfiction. $22.99. (0-439-56992-3). A public librarian Miss Breed made sure that the Japanese-American children who were interred in concentration camps were sent books during their incarceration during World War II. (non-fiction) Books to children (online) <http://www.mcelmeel.com/curriculum/hiphiphooray.html>
- Adler, David A. (1998) Hiding from the Nazis. Holiday House. A fictionalized account of Lore Baer and her parents who send the four-year-old off to non-Jewish farmers in the hope that they will protect her.
- Amis, Nancy. (2003) The Orphans of Normandy: A True Story of World War II Told Through Drawings by Children. Atheneum100 orphans walk miles over several days to seek safety after D-day. Illustrated with drawings by the children and text in French (from the journals of the orphans) and translated into English.
- Hesse, Karen. (2004) The Cats in Krasinski Square. Illustrated by Wendy Watson. Scholastic. A little known story of Jewish resistance: young children who have escaped the Ghetto deploy stray cats to take the dogs away from the food being smuggled into Warsaw on the trains.
- Borden, Louise. (2002) The Greatest Skating Race. Simon & Schuster.Set in Netherlands, a young boy helps Joop and his
- Deedy, Carmen Agra. (2000) The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark. Peachtree. Not fact, but true in spirit as many Danes tried to save their Jewish neighbors. But neither Jews or non-Jews were mandated to wear a star. (See website cited for more information).
- Hoestlandt, Jo. (1996) Star of Fear, Star of Hope. Illustrated by Johanna Kang. Walker.--"Occupation of France."
- Houston, Gloria. (1992) But No Candy. Illustrated by Lloyd Bloom. Philomel.--Slowly she realizes that the candy she no longer gets is not the most important loss during the war.
- Judge, Lita. (2007) One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II. illus. Hyperion.-- Fourteen poems describe a philanthropic project began after World War II, when the narrator's family sent a package to a needy German friend. That initial exchange brought shoes and clothes, coats and canned food to European survivors. The tracings were tracings of feet so that correctly sized shoes could be sent.
- Mochizuki, Ken. (1993) Baseball Saved Us. Illustrated by Dom Lee. Lee & Low Books. --The Japanese forced to internment camps (in the USA) finds some relief in the game of baseball.
- Moss, Marissa. (2013) Barbed Wire Baseball. Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu. Abrams Books for Children - This true story, set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, introduces children to a little-discussed part of American history through Marissa Moss's rich text and Yuko Shimizu's beautiful illustrations. The book includes author and illustrator notes, archival photographs, and a bibliography. http://marissamoss.com/books.php?series=picture
Vaughan, Marcia. (2011) Irena's Jars of Secrets. Illustrated by Ron Mazellan (Lee and Low Books) - the story of a Catholic social worker who rescued 2500 children from the Warsaw ghetto during the seond World War.
- Nelson, S. D. (2006) Quiet Hero: The Ira Hayes Story. Lee
& Low. Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian and a Marine during
World War II, who helped to raise the flag on Iwo Jima. After his
return from the war Hayes struggled to adjust to civilian life.
- Polacco, Patricia. (2000) The Butterfly. Philomel. The author's aunt's story is the basis for this tale of the Nazis in Germany.
Yolen, Jane. (2015) Stone Angel. Illustrated by Katie May Green. (Philomel Books, 40 pp. -- ""Stone Angel," begins with two ominous words, "We ran." It tells the story of a Jewish French girl before, during, and after the Holocaust. At the start, brother and sister run freely "along the streets of Paris, where stone angels and gargoyles looked down on us from churches, cathedrals and homes." But as the shadow of the "brown shirts" falls across France, the family..." (Boston Horn Globe).
Scenes from the home front."
History in Story (World War II)
Every period of history has stories. These stories help readers perceive past events and issues and to develop historical empathy. Knowing about the past also helps readers to appreciate the collective set of judgments about the past, and avoid the temptation to repeat history with ill-conceived solutions to present-day events.
- Atkins, Laura and Yogi, Stan. (2017) Fred Korematsu Speaks Up. Illustrated by Yutaka Houlette. Heyday Books. An American who courageously stood up and spook up to fight the incarceration of Japanese Americans. (Note: This is the first in a new series of middle-grade books about civil rights history and heroes from Heyday Books. It is written in poetic free verse, and blends nonfiction with historical fiction and includes additional historical information, resources for activism, and a note from Korematsu's daughter, Karen Korematsu. )
- Bruchac, Joseph. (2005) Code Talker: A Novel About The Navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac. Dial. Navajos develop an unbreakable code and play an important role in the war effort. (240 pgs; grades 5-10)
- Kadohata, Cynthia. (2006) Weedflower. Atheneum. Japanese Internment on the Mohave. (272 pgs; grades 5-8)
- Macdonald, Maryann. (2013) Odette's Secrets. Bloombury. -- Odette is sent to live in the country side when Paris is invaded. She must live in secret away from her father and mother. As the war goes on her secrets become more complicated -- and more dangerous. Hope and Courage - and poetry helps save Odette and keep her secrets safe -- but will Odette be kept safe? Written in free-verse. (225 pages; ages 10 and up)
- Mazer, Harry. (2001) A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. Set in Honolulu, a 14-year-old witnesses the chaos and prejudice that follows. (104 pgs; grades 5-9)
- Oriev, Uri. (2003) Run, Boy, Run. Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books. A young boy escapes the Nazis across the Polish countryside. (192 pgs; grades 4-7)
- Park, Linda Sue. (2002) My Name Was Keoko. Clarion. Two siblings, in alternating chapters, tell of the Japanese occupation of South Korea in the years preceding World War II. (208 pgs; grades 4-7)
- Roy, Jennifer. (2006) The Yellow Star. Marshall Cavendish. -- Based on the experiences of Roy's aunt who was imprisoned in he Polish ghetto for six years. She was one of a dozen children to survive. (Verse novel)
- Russo, Marisabina. (2011). I will come back for you: A family in hiding during World War II. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books.
- Salisbury, Graham. (2005) Eyes of the Emperor. Wendy Lamb BooksEddie Okubo, a 16-year-old, lies about his age to enlist in the U.S. Army and finds that racism is strong even in the military. (240 pgs; grades 7-10)
- Spinelli, Jerry. (2003)Milkweed. Knopf. A Warsaw orphan's life in the ghetto but he comes to realize what many adults don't when the trains come, the passengers are not being taken to resettlement villages. (224 pgs; grades 4-7)
- Wood, Douglas. (2011). Franklin and Winston: A Christmas that changed the world. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press.
- Zusak, Markus. (2006) The Book Thief. Alfred A. Knopf. -- Narrated by "Death" -- the story of Liesel, a young German girl who sustains her family and the Jewish man they are hiding through book stealing and story telling.