Here is a list of online and in print book lists for your homeschool history studies, as well a recommended series, authors, places to find free e-books, and other sources for finding living books for history study. If you find this list helpful, please share or pin it on Pinterest. Thanks!
- Landmark Books. Landmark books are excellent living history books! Most of them were published in the 50s and 60s and are now out of print. They read like novels and adventure stories. If you cannot find them in your library, you can find them on e-Bay for $5-10 (sometimes more like $2 if you buy a bunch together).
- Signature Biographies.
- Childhood of Famous Americans. These are good for young readers, but please realize that they focus only on the childhoods of these figures and not on the main events that they were known for.
- Genevieve Foster. One of her books is titled Augustus Caesar’s World. She interweaves the history of the entire world (including the Far East and the Americas) during that time period with Augustus Caesar’s biography. She is a master storyteller and her books are a pleasure to read.
- Albert Marrin. Marrin’s books are definitely at a higher reading level than Foster’s. All of his books are worth reading. He explains the background for his topic well; for instance in America and Vietnam: The Elephant and the Tiger, he goes all the way back to the beginning of Vietnamese history to help his reader develop a much stronger understanding.
- Project Gutenberg. Endless source of FREE public domain works. (This means they have outlived their copyrights.)
- Heritage Online Library. Most of these books were published before the 1920s. Heritage History has made them available as e-books for homeschoolers. They also have their books organized into a curriculum, but I think they would be more useful as occasional resources.
- The Baldwin Online Children’s Project.
- Online Libraries of free economics e-books:
Curricula with Lists
You can purchase books from these retailers or you can browse their catalogs for lists of books to look for at your local library.
Booklists in Print Form
Historical Fiction Lists
I have listed grade level recommendations here. Some of the first several books on this list are listed on Amazon as third grade and up. I have listed all of them on my list as fifth grade and up. Many students will be able to handle these books much earlier than I have marked them (and some even later than I have marked). Holocaust books are typically very heavy and often depressing. For this reason, you would do well to preview each book or movie yourself to make sure your individual child is ready to handle the subject matter. It is very, very important that every student study this period in history, however. Do not neglect its study because it is depressing. In this video, Pennsylvania college students are interviewed about the Holocaust, WWII, and genocide. The lack of knowledge some of them have is shocking. As a culture, we cannot afford to forget these horrific events less than one century later.
[5+] = Grade Level
- The Hidden Children by Howard Greenfield [5+] collection of true stories
A solid history of the Holocaust for elementary students with many true stories of children who were hidden. Some of these children were hidden in plain sight, as someone’s cousin’s child come to stay for a while. Others were hidden in Catholic orphanages, cellars, or forests.
- The Hidden Girl: A True Story of the Holocaust by Lola Rein Kaufman and Lois Metzger [5+] true story
The story of a Polish girl who is smuggled out of the ghetto and hidden in a dark hovel underneath a cellar.
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry [5+] fiction
This is a novel that takes place in Denmark. Many Jews were evacuated by the Danish resistance. Annemarie’s family helps by saving her friend Ellen Rosen.
- Surviving Hitler by Andrea Warren [ 5+] fiction
Told from the perspective of Mandelbaum, a Jewish boy from Poland who struggles to survive in a concentration camp. He resolves not to hate anyone despite what he is put through.
- Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary 1939-1944 by Aranka Siegal [7+] true memoir
1982 Newberry Honor Book. The sequel is Grace in the Wilderness: After the Liberation 1945-1948.
- The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom [7+] true memoir
Corrie Ten Boom and her family participated in the Dutch resistance. They were Christians who harbored Jews and ended up in concentration camps for doing so. Corrie’s is a story of great faith. The ending leaves one in awe of God’s provision.
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank [9+] true diary
Anne Frank’s family went into hiding in the Netherlands after the Nazis invaded. Anne writes about her time spent in the “Secret Annexe.” The Nazis did eventually put them in concentration camps, but that part is not included in Anne’s diary because she was unable to take the diary with her. She died in the concentration camp, but her father lived and published her diary. Preview this book. Anne develops a crush on a boy from the other family in the Secret Annexe and writes her adolescent thoughts about him. The 1947 edition has a significant amount edited out. You may wish to look for it.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak [9+] fiction
The story of a German girl sent to live with German foster parents who hide a young Jewish man. It is an interesting look at what it was like to be an ordinary German who did not agree with the Nazi party. Narrated by Death.
- Maus I & II by Art Spiegelman [9+] true graphic novel
Spiegelman’s parents went through a concentration camp. His book is written in a graphic novel form. Nazis are depicted as cats and Jews as mice. In the book, Spiegelman is alternately interviewing his father and depicting his story.
- Night by Elie Weisel [11+] fiction
Even older students may not be able to handle the intensity of Night. Weisel himself survived a concentration camp, and his book is a work of fiction based on his experiences. Weisel does not offer readers the hope that Ten Boom does. This is perhaps the grittiest and most honest look at what the worst camps were like for Jews. It is worth reading for students who can handle the depressing aspects. You will almost certainly cry.
- These are the books that I can personally recommend. For a more complete list of books that are no doubt just as good, see this PDF by the Alabama Holocaust Commission.
- “The Book Thief” [PG-13] fiction
Based on the book (see above). This is one of only two instances in which I actually like the movie better than the book.
- “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” [PG-13] fiction
Based on a fictional book of the same name. Eight year old son of a Nazi official finds a death camp and befriends a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence. He is confused because the boy always wears “striped pajamas.”
- “The Island on Bird Street” [PG-13] based on a true story
The story of a boy and his pet mouse who hide in an abandoned Polish ghetto.
- “Life is Beautiful” [PG-13] fiction
The story of a boy and his father in a concentration camp. The father pretends that it is all a game in order to shelter his young son from the reality.
- “Sophie Scholl: Die Letzen Tage (The Last Days)” [Foreign] true story
The movie is German and can be watched in English or with English subtitles. I recommend the subtitles. The movie is unrated because it is foreign, but only the very end would be disturbing to children when a beheading is heard (but not seen directly). Sophie Scholl disagreed with the Nazis and was a member of the White Rose underground resistance movement. She published and distributed anti-Nazi papers, for which she was sent to prison. Her debates with her interrogators and judges are poignant. This is not specifically a Holocaust film, but it does have to do with the Nazis.
- I have personally watched all of these movies. Most middle or high schoolers can handle these. There are many more movies worth watching which a simple internet search for “list of Holocaust movies” will turn up.
- Many Holocaust survivors are still living. If you ever have the opportunity to hear someone speak about their experiences, do not pass on that opportunity!
*The above links are not affiliate links. The photo used for the featured image at the top of this post is used under this Creative Commons license. The photo was taken by włodi on Flickr at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.