All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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WWII Soldiers' Stories

Books in this list — both fiction and non-fiction — present personal stories of soldiers who fought on both sides of World War II. These books are an excellent complement to history units on World War II. This list is excerpted from Dr. Joan Kaywell's latest volume in her series Adolescent Literacy as a Complement to the Classics.

A Troubled Peace

A Troubled Peace

Age Level: 12-14

This is a sequel to Under a War-torn Sky, which was based on the fact that some soldiers do have heart-stopping surprise homecomings. WWII is over and Hank (aka Henry Forester) has returned home but struggles to tame his memories of the war and re-calibrate himself to civilian life.

Soldier X

Soldier X

Age Level: 12-14

Based on a true story, this is a teacher's recollection of how is life was as a teenager fighting on the side of the Germans as a Hitler Youth. At 16, Erik Brandt was made to fight on the Russian front as a Nazi because of his ability to speak Russian. It doesn't take long for him to realize that he wants out of this war, especially after he sees the cruelty done to the Jews. After a particular brutal attack on the Germans by the Russians, Erik switches his uniform with that of a dead Russian soldier and feigns amnesia. It is as Soldier X that Erik escapes with a nurse and lives to tell about his inner torment.

And No Birds Sang

And No Birds Sang

Age Level: 14-16

Mowat retells his own experiences as a young soldier during World War II. At first he was very idealistic and romanticized the war effort but after exposure to many atrocities, Farley grows and learns painfully to see war as it is.

Hansi, The Girl Who Loved the Swastika

Hansi, The Girl Who Loved the Swastika

Age Level: 14-16

This is the true story of a young, orphaned Czechoslovakian girl, raised in a Christian German home, who is chosen to serve in Hitler's Nazi Youth leadership. She eventually immigrates to the United States, but readers won’t forget her story.

The Last Mission

The Last Mission

Age Level: 14-16

In this ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults and New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year, Jack Raab, uses an older brother’s identification in order to lie his way into military service during World War II. This 16-year-old American-Jewish boy vividly shares his experiences, including his harsh imprisonment and release from a German camp. The horrors of a war that Jack never should have fought in make him an adult before his time.

Children of the Swastika: The Hitler Youth

Children of the Swastika: The Hitler Youth

Age Level: 12-14

This nonfiction book is carefully researched and includes photos and source notes to add to its credibility. It is fascinating to see how Hitler managed to brainwash children into doing things totally contrary to their parents' values.

Summer of My German Soldier

Summer of My German Soldier

Age Level: 14-16

In this ALA Notable Book, Patty Bergen is an abused girl who befriends an escaped German prisoner of war. In spite of what her parents and others say about the Germans, Patty gets to know Anton and falls in love with his gentle spirit.

Under a War Torn Sky

Under a War Torn Sky

Age Level: 12-14

Although Henry Forester a.k.a. Hank is an older teenager at 19, he's still in the teens in terms of the number of bombings he's participated in as an American pilot during World War II. His luck runs out when he is shot down and parachutes into German-occupied territory. With the help of the French Resistance, he overcomes a number of perils and learns many lessons as he seeks safety in England.

Parallel Journeys

Parallel Journeys

Age Level: 12-14

Ayer presents two alternating perspectives of the Holocaust — one from Helen Waterford, a Jewish woman and her struggle to survive and one from Alfons Heck, a Hitler Youth whose ambition is to climb in rank. After meeting in the Unites States long after the war, this Aryan and Jew befriend one another and, remarkably, join forces to educate the youth of America to prevent this atrocity from ever happening again.

Hitler Youth : Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow

Hitler Youth : Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow

Age Level: 12-14

How were otherwise kind, intelligent teenagers drawn into an organization like the Hitler Youth? This well-researched and well-documented book examines the rise of the Nazi party and its sway over teens. Using primary sources, including interviews, the author features the stories of several teens who came of age during Hitler's years of power.