My Dutch parents lived their first half decade under Nazi rule. A dear friend of mine, who has since gone to be with the Lord, hid Jews under her staircase as they waited for a more permanent refuge. The story of the Netherlands in World War II has become an important part of who I am as a Dutch Canadian.
And reading Liz Tolsma’s Snow on the Tulips, which took place when and where my husband’s parents were children, adds to that. So do the many other books I’ve read about these times.
Books can tell us so much about the past and help us to remember its lessons.
I want my children to learn these things too, and that is why I encourage them to read for Remembrance Day and why I model the same thing to them.
Here’s a brief list of World War II books that have meant a lot to us. (Links are to my reviews.)
For children and younger teens:
The Lonely Sentinel and the entire Shadow Series about the Dutch struggle against the Nazis. (Christian)
A picture book of life near a concentration camp, The Sweet Potato. (Christian)
Scout: The Secret of the Swamp a story of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. (Christian)
Number the Stars about the evacuation of Jews from Denmark. (secular)
Journey Through the Night, a gripping multi-volume novel of the war in the Netherlands. (Christian)
Hana’s Suitcase, a powerful memory of the Holocaust. (secular)
Snow Treasure, a delightful story about Norwegian children’s successful resistance against the Nazis. (secular)
House of Sixty Fathers about the Japanese invasion of China. (secular)
And, of course, The Diary of Anne Frank. (secular)
For adults and older teens:
Evidence Not Seen about a young missionary wife in the Far East. (Christian)
The story of Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who stood up to the Nazis. (Christian)
While We’re Far Apart, a touching novel of a woman who volunteered to care for her widower neighbor’s children when he enlisted. (Christian)
In Remembering You, a brash young woman takes her grandfather on a veteran’s tour. (Christian)
Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma about the war in the northern part of the Netherlands. (Christian)
The Heart Mender is an unexpected twist on a wartime forgiveness story.
Rosamunde Pilcher’s Coming Home and The Shell Seekers, about the influence of the war on those at home in Britain. (secular)
And, of course, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. (Christian)
A Movie for the whole family:
War Time Farm a series about a farm in war-torn Britain, available on YouTube. (secular)
On my to-read list:
For Love and Country: A Canadian Soldier’s Story by Ron and Merla Lawruk, about the soldier we met at the last Veteran’s Appreciation Day.
Richard Rhodes’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb.
One way to honor our veterans is to remember the wars they fought in.
These books remind us and our children what the past was like and what we want to avoid in the future. They ground us in reality that the freedom we have was won at a great cost. May we value that freedom and use it wisely and well for as long as we can, to God’s honor.
And may we never forget that there are currently wars going on all around the world.
This is only a very select list. Please add your own favorite World War II books and movies in the comments.
On the 70th anniversary of VE Day, the Guardian put together a list of the best children’s books on the Second World War.