Tag Archives: historical fiction

Holocaust Remembrance Day

If you are trying to help children learn about a difficult topic, it’s always helpful to have access to good materials and expert advice. Since today is Holocaust Remembrance Day I thought I would share some of the resources that I found for a patron who was about to start talking about this history with her son.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has excellent online information including a section of the website for with advice for teachers. There are lots of helpful suggestions, and even online training for teachers who are addressing the topic for the first time.

These are a few titles I suggested as having introductory information about the Holocaust and being short enough to read aloud to a class:

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Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II by Marisabina Russo
Photos and documents in a scrapbook help tell a family’s story.

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Benno and the Night of Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott
The events of Kristallnacht are told from the perspective of a cat.

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The Feather-bed Journey by Paula Kurzband Feder
A grandmother tells the story behind a feather pillow–once a feather bed– that is the only possession left from her childhood in Poland.

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The Secret Seder by Doreen Rappaport
A boy and his father passing as gentiles in occupied France secretly join others for Passover.

For a longer read, these are some newer books that come highly recommended:

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Adam and Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld
Adam and Thomas is the story of two nine-year-old Jewish boys who survive World War II by banding together in the forest.

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Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport
Doreen Rappaport illuminates the defiance of tens of thousands of Jews across eleven Nazi-occupied countries during World War II.

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Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier
A grandmother shares the story of her experiences in WWII with her grandchild in this graphic novel for young readers.

Can you figure out what these books have in common?

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Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Jean & Mou-Sien Tseng
A retelling of the original Chinese poem in which a brave young girl masquerades as a boy and fights the Tartars in the Khan’s army.

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I’ll Pass for Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by Anita Silvey
Explores the secret world of women Civil War soldiers, discussing who they were, why they went to war, how they managed their masquerade, their wartime experiences, and what happened to them afterwards.

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Joan of Arc: The Lily Maid by Margaret Hodges
A biography of the fifteenth-century peasant girl who led a French army to victory against the English.

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My Last Skirt: The Story of Jennie Hodgers, Union Soldier by Lynda Durrant
Enjoying the freedom afforded her while dressing as a boy in order to earn higher pay after emigrating from Ireland, Jennie Hodgers serves in the 95th Illinois Infantry as Private Albert Cashier, a Union soldier in the American Civil War.

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Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss and John Hendrix
A story of a nineteen-year-old woman who disguised herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage and who distinguished herself as a male nurse during the Civil War, and later as a spy for the Union Army.

Jean Fritz

 

We recently got the news about the death of another favorite author, Jean Fritz. I read biographies she had written while I was in grade school (such as Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? and Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?). We studied a more recent title, Around the World in a Hundred Years, in library school. Her most recent book was Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider. Reading the obituary, she would have been about 95 years old when it was published.

“Everything is art. Everything is politics.” (quote from Ai Weiwei)

This past weekend, my dad and I had a chance to attend Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens:
Natural State. Some of the first pieces you see when you walk into the building are large, hollow, white structures in the shapes of gods or supernatural creatures that are hanging from the ceiling.

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This is the description that goes with this collection of artworks:

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I knew Ai Weiwei was an activist, but I did not know the story about his father. It made me think of this book:

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Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang, illustrated by Greg Ruth

In the story, a boy’s father is sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution in China. They make a plan to each fly a kite for the other to see at a certain time every day since they don’t have any other way to communicate. In an author’s note at the back of the book, Ji-li Jiang explains that the picture book was inspired by the personal history of a family friend. In the end, he says, “My friend’s father survived the Cultural Revolution, and my friend grew up and became a poet.”

Red Kite, Blue Kite is one of the books included in our current display for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It includes children’s books that have received the South Asia Book Award or the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Come take a look!

Alex made something amazing!

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Alex made a model of the Titanic that won 2nd place at the science fair at Woodview Elementary School! He brought it in to display at the library. Come take a look! While you’re here, you can check out some of our books about the Titanic to learn more.

Big Birthday on the Prairie

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Author Laura Ingalls Wilder was born 150 years ago on February 7, 1867.  You can read a couple of reflections at the New York Times and Shelf Awareness.  Stay tuned for a special program about Laura Ingalls Wilder this summer!

New African American Historical Fiction

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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
From the author’s note: “…I chose the Fairchilds Appraisement of the Estate document from July 5, 1828 to tell this story.  Eleven slaves are listed for sale with the cows, hogs, cotton; only the names and prices of the slaves are noted (no age is indicated). I was inspired by this spare information to bring these slaves to life and have them tell their stories.”
The stickers on the cover indicate that it is a Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, and a Newbery Honor book in the 2017 Youth Media Awards.

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The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship between a Boy and a Baseball Legend by Sharon Robinson (Jackie Robinson’s daughter)
Eight-year-old Steve Satlow is thrilled when Jackie Robinson moves into his Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn in 1948, although many of his neighbors are not, and when Steve actually meets his hero he is even more excited–and worried that a misunderstanding over a Christmas tree could damage his new friendship.

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Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti, illustrated by Tony Cliff
During the Civil War, African American Mary Bowser becomes a maid in the Richmond mansion of Confederate States of America president Jefferson Davis as part of a plan to pass along secrets to help the Union. Includes a replica of a Confederate decoder, plus other spycraft materials, in a sealed envelope to help the reader discover clues found in the text and illustrations.

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My Name is James Madison Hemings by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Terry Widner
Here’s a powerful historical picture book about the child of founding father Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings.
In an evocative first-person account accompanied by exquisite artwork, Winter and Widener tell the story of James Madison Hemings’s childhood at Monticello, and, in doing so, illuminate the many contradictions in Jefferson’s life and legacy. Though Jefferson lived in a mansion, Hemings and his siblings lived in a one-room shack. While Jefferson doted on his white grandchildren, he never showed affection to his enslaved children. Though he kept the Hemings boys from hard field labor—instead sending them to work in the carpentry shop—Jefferson nevertheless listed the children in his “Farm Book” along with the sheep, hogs, and other property. Here is a profound and moving account of one family’s history, which is also America’s history.
An author’s note includes more information about Hemings, Jefferson, and the author’s research.

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Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
Rose Lee Carter, a thirteen-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955, but when Emmett Till is murdered and his killers are unjustly acquitted, Rose is torn between seeking her destiny outside of Mississippi or staying and being a part of an important movement.

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Steamboat School: Inspired by a True Story, St. Louis, Missouri, 1847 by Deborah Hopkinson; illustrated by Ron Husband
In 1847 St. Louis, Missouri, when a new law against educating African Americans forces Reverend John to close his school, he finds an ingenious solution to the new state law by moving his school to a steamboat in the Mississippi River. Includes author’s note on Reverend John Berry Meachum, a minister, entrepreneur, and educator who fought tirelessly for the rights of African Americans.