January 2013 Reading List

Michelle Miller

Our January Reading List Theme: World War II

Ah, we all know about the second great war, but there is always much more depth and breadth to explore: heroism and perseverance, faith and strength, daring and brilliance. And don’t forget to ask for the stories of those who lived these events themselves: your elderly neighbors . . .  Every older gentleman that I bump into on my walks has a World War II story of his own!

The new year brings new appreciations for our freedoms—and the price that was paid so that we would have them. Dig in, and be inspired!

Top Choices

Snow Treasure, by Marie McSwigan

Grades 2-8

One of my favorite children’s books of all time: the true story of heroic children in Norway during Nazi Occupation. It is also the number one book that solicits comments from fathers visiting my library: “Oh, that was the most unforgettable book I ever read as a boy!” NOT TO BE MISSED!

Heroes in Plenty, by Theodora DuBois

Grades 4-10

I’ve heard raves about this rare book, which tells of Germans who dared to resist Hitler.

Silence Over Dunkerque, by John Tunis

Grades 4-12

I read this as a child and was soooo moved by the heroic English fisherman who rescued trapped soldiers, through terrible weather, from across the English Channel.

Winged Watchman, by Hilda van Stockum

Grades 4-12

Wonderful, warm story of a loving Dutch family facing the full panoply of World War II challenges.

Enemy Brothers, by Constance Savery

Grades 6-12

Is Nazi-influenced young man from Germany the earlier-captured brother of a young English airman, and how can he be rescued? This is being reprinted by Bethlehem Books.

From Pearl Harbor to the Pulpit, by Charles Hembree

Grades 7-12

It seems silly to mention this obscure book written by a television ministry (so perhaps not the best writing), but it shares the amazing faith of an American serviceman (Jack DeShazer) whose perseverance while in a miserable Japanese prison camp led to the dramatic conversion of a Japanese guard (Mitsuo Fuchido). How the two worked after the war is an incredible story also!

Zion Covenant series, by Bodie & Brock Thoene

Grades 8-Adult

Don’t plan on a moment’s sleep, because the cliffhangers in this Christian series, set all throughout Europe and Israel during World War II, will have you burning the midnight oil.

Hitler’s Cross, by Erwin Lutzer

Grades 9-Adult

Outstanding, important, unforgettable must-read for older students and parents! These deep insights into the German church’s failure to stop Hitler help us understand what is happening in our own time. Very crucial for grasping the issues of then and today!

 A Little Bit of Everything:  Interesting Topics, Interesting Stories 

All Those Secrets of the World, by Jane Yolen

Grades 1-3

Lovely picture-book expression of a girl’s longing for her father, away fighting in World War II.

Wind Flyers, by Angela Johnson

Grades 1-3

Wonderfully written and illustrated picture-book about the brave Tuskegee Airmen.

Blueberries for the Queen, by John & Katherine Paterson

Grades 1-4

Fact-based story of a boy who gathers blueberries for Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, who had to flee her country during World War II.

Boxes for Katje, by Candice Fleming

Grades 1-4

American girl sends care packages to Dutch girl enduring difficult aftermath of World War II.

Butterfly, by Patricia Polacco

Grades 1-4

Touching picture-book about a French girl who finds a Jewish girl in hiding.

Harmonica, by Tony Johnston

Grades 1-4

Fact-based story of Jewish boy comforting others in concentration camp by playing harmonica.

Yellow Star, by Carmen Deedy

Grades 1-4

True story of Danish king’s efforts to help Jews during World War II in this richly illustrated picture-book, including a special way that he personally identified with them.

Farm Summer 1942, by Donald Hall

Grades 1-5

This luminous picture-book shows life for those serving the war effort by growing food.

Hanna’s Cold Winter, by Trish Marx

Grades 1-6

Fact-based story of the Hungarian people’s attempt to keep their prized zoo hippo alive during the deprivation of World War II.

Rose Blanche, by Robert Innocenti

Grades 2-5

German girl discovers concentration camps, so this tenderly illustrated book has a sad ending, but it is appropriate to the situation and is handled with some gentleness for young readers.

Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II, by Louise Borden

Grades 2-6

Richly illustrated and well-told picture-book story of the moving Evacuation of Dunkirk.  See also Borden’s fine Greatest Skating Race and Across the Blue Pacific, also about World War II.

Young Man of the House, by Mabel Leigh Hunt

Grades 2-6

If you have access to lovely books from yesteryear, this tells of a boy’s role at home after his father leaves to fight in World War II.

Raoul Wallenberg: Missing Diplomat, by Anita Larsen

Grades 2-8, “History’s Mysteries”

True story of Swedish diplomat who worked to save tens of thousands of Jewish lives.  Captured by the Russians, his end is still unknown. . . .  This book may not be the best ever written on the subject, but it is a unique topic, one not rarely covered for young’uns.

Twenty and Ten, by Claire Huchet Bishop

Grades 2-9

Poignant tale of French children helping Jewish children. Film version is Miracle at Moreaux.

Radar Commandos, by Bernard Glemser

Grades 3-9, “Winston Adventure” series

True story of a teen involved in World War II espionage and underground; part of outstanding series highlighting the real contributions of young people.

Story of Dwight D. Eisenhower, by Arthur Beckhard

Grades 3-9, “Signature” series

House of Sixty Fathers, by Meindert DeJong

Grades 3-10

Fine story set in China during World War II, where a boy tries to find his parents.

No Time for Glory, by Phyllis Fenner

Grades 4-10

Boys, especially, thrilled to Fenner’s short-story collections; here the stories cover World War II.

When the Saboteurs Came: Nazi Sabotage Plot Against America in World War II, by W. Wise

Grades 4-12

Last Nine Days of the Bismarck, by C.S. Forester

Grades 5-12

Fine author tells of the tense Allied search for Hitler’s mightiest warship.

Long Escape, by Irving Werstein

Grades 5-12

True story of woman‘s great difficulty in trying to rescue disabled Belgian children marked for extermination by the Nazis.

The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom

Grades 6-Adult

Those coming of age in your household may not yet have read this don’t-miss classic of the faith, the true story of two Christian, Dutch sisters sent to a concentration camp for protecting Jews.

War Horse, by Fairfax Downey

Grades 6-12

A fine author tells the story of a World War II cavalry horse and its brave rider; handsome book.

Navajo Code Talkers, by Nathan Aaseng

Grades 8-12

True, amazing story of Navajo Indians used to communicate US military secrets in their own language, one so difficult that no enemies could grasp it.

The Raft, by Robert Trumbull

Grades 8-12

This looks like an amazing story; it relates the true experience of US Navy pilots shot down at sea and trying to survive on a raft for many days.

Crossbow and Overcast, by James McGovern

Grades 9-12

True, gripping story of Allied attempts to get Nazi rocket experts, and their know-how, smuggled out of Germany, and to resist their V-2 rockets.

Top Author – Albert Marrin

I’ve heard many folks applaud Marrin’s basic worldview and writing style, and he has written several books on World War II topics, appropriate for Grades 8-12. Several also have been produced in audio format; my sister and her family, for example, greatly enjoyed an audio version of (I think it was!) his Victory in the Pacific. If you can find older books, I’d also like to mention the battle coverage provided by Irving Werstein, but Marrin’s books will be easier to locate.

Marrin’s titles include:

Airman’s War


Overlord: D-Day and the Invasion of Europe

Victory in the Pacific

Warsaw Ghetto

Top Series – World at War

This series does a terrific job of presenting the facts about World War II in a readable, interesting narrative, but at a rare, easier level, for even the younger readers.

Grades 2 or 3, to 7

By G.C. Skipper

Battle of Britain Fall of the Fox: Rommel

Battle of Midway Goering and the Luftwaffe

Battle of Stalingrad Invasion of Poland

Battle of the Atlantic MacArthur and the Philippines

Battle of the Coral Sea Mussolini

D-Day Pearl Harbor

Death of Hitler Submarines in the Pacific

By R. Conrad Stein

Battle of Guadalcanal Holocaust

Battle of Okinawa Invasion of Russia

Dunkirk Nisei Regiment

Fall of Singapore Prisoners of War

Fighter Planes Resistance Movements

Hiroshima Road to Rome

Hitler Youth Siege of Leningrad

Top Series – Landmark

This well-known series had top authors, many who were actually involved in the war as soldiers or reporters, delivering readable narratives just for young readers.

Grades 3-9

Battle for Iwo Jima, by Robert Leckie

Battle for the Atlantic, by Jay Williams

Battle of Britain, by Quentin Reynolds

Battle of the Bulge, by John Toland

Combat Nurses of World War II, by Wyatt Blassingame

Commandos of World War II, by Hodding Carter

Flying Tigers, by John Toland

From Casablanca to Berlin, by Bruce Bliven Jr.

From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa, by Bruce Bliven Jr.

Great American Fighter Pilots of World War II, by Robert Loomis

Guadalcanal Diary, by Richard Tregaskis

John F. Kennedy and PT-109, by Richard Tregaskis

Medal of Honor Heroes, by Colonel Red Reeder

Medical Corps Heroes of World War II, by Wyatt Blassingame

Midway: Battle for the Pacific, by Edmund Castillo

Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler, by William Shirer

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, by Ted Lawson

Seabees of World War II, by Edmund Castillo

Sinking of the Bismarck, by William Shirer

Story of D-Day, by Bruce Bliven Jr.

U.S. Frogmen of World War II, by Wyatt Blassingame

Winston Churchill, by Quentin Reynolds

Another Good Series—We Were There

These exciting, readable stories place fictional kids in real action of World War II battles.

Grades 3-9

We Were There at Pearl Harbor, by Felix Sutton

We Were There at the Battle of Bataan, by Benjamin Appel

We Were There at the Battle of Britain, by Clayton Knight

We Were There at the Battle of the Bulge, by David Shepherd

We Were There at the Normandy Invasion, by Clayton Knight


Bonhoeffer: Cost of Freedom

Paul McCusker, of Adventures in Odyssey fame, brings this dramatic audio presentation of life of brave German pastor who spoke up for truth during Hitler’s regime.

Hanged on a Twisted Cross

Film presentation of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who dared resist Hitler’s evil philosophies and government.

Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman

True story of Christian missionary in China, and her incredible bravery while trying to rescue orphans from invading Japanese during World War II in China.  Based on the fine book, The Small Woman, by Alan Burgess (Grades 7-12).

Judgment at Nuremberg, starring Spencer Tracy

This dramatic film presents the Nuremberg Trials, with Spencer Tracy as judge over Nazi war criminals. Powerfully presents the reality and blessing of God’s higher law, higher than any government or man.

Miracle of the White Stallions, starring Robert Taylor

True story of the brave care given to the famed Lipizzan stallions during Nazi occupation.

Sink the Bismarck, starring Kenneth More

Snow Treasure

Film version of the beloved story cited above: true story of brave Norwegian children.

The Scarlet and the Black, starring Gregory Peck

Unforgettable film illuminating the real Italian priest who did much to rescue others.

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, starring Van Johnson, Spencer Tracy, Robert Mitchum

* And last, don’t forget! The Sound of Music is set during the beginning of World War II in Austria!

Click here for a pdf list for easy printing and to take to your library

Michelle has always loved words; just ask her weary-eared husband! From teaching herself to read at a very young age, to making her baby sister patronize her pretend childhood library, to owning 25,000 living books today, she has discovered that modern public libraries seldom offer children the best. Thus, she founded a private library (www.ChildrensPreservationLibrary.com) offering the great treasures to families in her area. She enjoys helping others around the country do the same.

Naturally, when she wrote her award-winning history curriculum, it harnessed the incredible potency of these great books, along with pithy and supporting spiritual commentary (www.TruthQuestHistory.com). Michelle is a veteran homeschooler (19 years, with many more to go!), columnist, speaker, consultant, and author who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama. Michelle and her husband, John, have four children: two adult sons and two youngsters still at home in Michigan; they also have five cute grandsons! For information on starting a library in your area, contact us at: CPL@speedconnect.com.