Social Sundays: Books for World War II

I LOVE teaching World War II.  I am not sure why I love this period of history so much as usually I don't like the "wars" part of social studies, but World War II just captures my attention.  I also LOVE using books with any unit.  

So, over the years, I have been building a list of books and other resources to accompany the teaching of World War II.  Some of the books are on a rather easy reading level, but I have found that even some of my high schoolers will pick them up, especially my ESL students.  I try to have a variety of reading levels available in the hope of connecting most students to at least one piece of fiction or non-fiction.  You can download the full list for free here, but I'll highlight just a couple of my favorites below:

  • The War That Saved My Life by Bradley: Although this is a middle reader, it is such a good story that it is compelling to many students.  Ada gets a chance at a new life when she and her brother are moved out of World War II London.
  • Code Name Verity by Wein: Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.
  • You Wouldn’t Want to be a Secret Agent During World War II by Malam: A bit of reverse psychology and loads of irresistible historical details combine with cartoony visuals and glib humor make this book good fun, if not full of substance.  
  • Dear Miss Breed by Oppenhein: A chronicle of the correspondence between California librarian Breed and young Japanese American internees during World War II.  I love to include parts of this book when we are studying the Japanese internment camps
  • Code Talkers by Bruchac: this fiction book illustrate the important role played by a group of Navajo who used their own language to send and receive coded messages during World War II for the United States.  They were crucial in saving many lives through their skills and bravery.  I include this book, or at least highlights if we are limited in time, when we are examining codes and cryptology.  
AsYou can grab the full list of fiction and non-fiction resources here.  Do you have a favorite resource for World War II?  Join the conversation in the comments section below. 

SoSocial Sundays is a bi-weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching social studies.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message in the comments below or at the store in the question and answer section.  



  1. I like the variety you've provided teachers in that list! I would also add "Children of the Flames" to that list (about Mengele's medical experiments), I read it in 8th grade, it quickly became (and stayed) one of my favorite books. Each year I give my students excerpts to read from it and we always have some of the deepest/most meaningful discussions that day.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion. I am not familiar with "Children of the Flames" but will definitely check it out.



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