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1940s: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about 1940s?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 1940s. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about 1940s.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about 1940s, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery to popular sellers like Diary of a Young Girl to some of our favorite hidden gems like Diana’s White House Garden.

We hope this list of kids books about 1940s can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About 1940s

#1
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Diana’s White House Garden
Written by Elisa Carbone & illustrated by Jen Hill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Diana Hopkins lived in a white house. THE White House.

World War II is in full force across the seas. It’s 1943, President Roosevelt is in office, and Diana’s father, Harry Hopkins, is his chief advisor. And Diana wants to be part of the war effort. After some well-intentioned missteps (her quarantine sign on her father’s office door was not well-received), the President requests her help with his newest plan for the country’s survival: Victory Gardens! From award-winning author Elisa Carbone comes the true story of how Diana Hopkins started her own Victory Garden on the White House lawn under the tutelage of Eleanor Roosevelt. With dedication and patience, she showed the nation that the war effort started first on the homefront.

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#2
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Lumber Jills
Written by Alexandra Davis & illustrated by Katie Hickey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In World War II, Great Britain needed lumber to make planes, ships, and even newspapers—but there weren’t enough men to cut down the trees. Enter the fearless Lumber Jills! These young women may not have had much woodcutting experience, but they each had two hands willing to work and one stout heart, and they came together to do their part. Discover this lyrical story of home front heroism and female friendship.

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#3
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Joltin' Joe DiMaggio
Written by Jonah Winter & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Bestselling author Jonah Winter and award-winning illustrator James E. Ransome knock it out of the park with this tribute to one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived, Joe DiMaggio. In the golden age of baseball, sports announcers ruled the radio, winning and losing was front-page news, and just about every young boy wanted to grow up to wear Yankee pinstripes, including Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, Jr., a first generation Italian from San Francisco. “Baseball is not a job,” said young Joe’s dad, but through hard work and dedication, Joe grew up to make headlines as a top centerfielder and ace hitter—Joltin’ Joe, the Yankee Clipper. And when the paychecks started rolling in and the newspaper reporters wouldn’t stop calling, you can bet Pop was mighty proud! During the Depression and WWII the country needed something to cheer for, and Joe was the star player who outshone the rest, even marrying movie star Marilyn Monroe—all by keeping his mouth shut and his eye on the ball.

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#4
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It Rained Warm Bread
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

Moishe was thirteen when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and he was sent to Auschwitz. His home was ravaged, his family torn apart by illness and abduction. Years of brutality drew on as Moishe moved from one labor camp to the next. Finally, towards the end of the war and at the peak of Moishe’s deepest despair, a simple act of kindness by a group of courageous Czech women redeemed his faith that goodness could survive the trials of war: That was the day it rained warm bread. Deftly articulated and beautifully illustrated, this is a strong addition to the ever-important genre of Holocaust testimonies.

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#5
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Navajo Code Talkers
Written by Blake Hoena
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

During World War II U.S. forces had to keep battle plans and other top secret information out of the enemy’s hands. Coded messages were often used, but secret codes could be broken. To solve this problem, the U.S. military turned to an unexpected source to create an unbreakable code. The Navajo people spoke a complex language that few outsiders knew how to speak. Several Navajo soldiers were recruited to develop a code based on the Navajo language. The result was a complex code that could not be solved by the enemy. Learn all about the brave Navajo Code Talkers and how their unbreakable code helped defeat the enemy and win the war.

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#6
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Players in Pigtails
Written by Shana Corey & illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Katie Casey, a fictional character, helps start the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which gave women the opportunity to play professional baseball while America was involved in World War II.

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#7
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Night Witches at War
Written by Bruce Berglund
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

Flying combat missions in wartime is always dangerous. But imagine doing so in a slow, rickety biplane, at night, with no lights or navigational equipment of any kind. Sound impossible? It wasn’t for the Soviet Night Witches. This unit of incredibly brave women flew hundreds of missions to attack German forces on the front lines during World War II. Learn all about these brave women and how their skill and courage in battle helped defeat the Nazis to win the war.

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#8
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History Smashers: Pearl Harbor
Written by Kate Messner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Myths! Lies! Secrets! Uncover the hidden truth behind the infamous Pearl Harbor attack with beloved educator/author Kate Messner. The fun mix of sidebars, illustrations, photos, and graphic panels make this perfect for fans of I Survived! and Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales.
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#9
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Anne Frank (Little Guides to Great Lives)
Written by Isabel Thomas & illustrated by Paola Escobar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

Anne Frank was an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times. Forced to go into hiding to escape the Nazis’ persecution of Jews in World War II, Anne kept a diary that would become one of the most famous books in the world.

Meet one of history’s most inspiring figures in this beautifully-illustrated guide to her amazing life.

From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way.

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#10
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McDuff Moves In
Written & illustrated by Rosemary Wells
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

One rainy night, a little white dog needed something to eat and a place to sleep. He went looking and found something he didn’t expect–a home.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about 1940s and...

Books About 1940s and War

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Diana’s White House Garden
Written by Elisa Carbone & illustrated by Jen Hill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Diana Hopkins lived in a white house. THE White House.

World War II is in full force across the seas. It’s 1943, President Roosevelt is in office, and Diana’s father, Harry Hopkins, is his chief advisor. And Diana wants to be part of the war effort. After some well-intentioned missteps (her quarantine sign on her father’s office door was not well-received), the President requests her help with his newest plan for the country’s survival: Victory Gardens! From award-winning author Elisa Carbone comes the true story of how Diana Hopkins started her own Victory Garden on the White House lawn under the tutelage of Eleanor Roosevelt. With dedication and patience, she showed the nation that the war effort started first on the homefront.

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$17.99
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$15.29
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$17.99
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Add to list
Lumber Jills
Written by Alexandra Davis & illustrated by Katie Hickey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In World War II, Great Britain needed lumber to make planes, ships, and even newspapers—but there weren’t enough men to cut down the trees. Enter the fearless Lumber Jills! These young women may not have had much woodcutting experience, but they each had two hands willing to work and one stout heart, and they came together to do their part. Discover this lyrical story of home front heroism and female friendship.

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The Boy on the Wooden Box
Written by Leon Leyson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

Traces the story of Holocaust survivor Leon Leyson, who was the youngest child in his family and possibly the youngest of the hundreds of Jews rescued by Oskar Schindler.

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. Soldier Dogs #1: Air Raid Search and Rescue - The paw-biting start to a thrilling new adventure series perfect for fans of Max and the I Survived books, inspired by the brave military dogs who helped our troops win World War II. When Matt’s older brother enlisted in the army, he left Matt his German Shepherd, Chief, a retired fire dog and the best pet EVER. So Matt isn’t happy when Chief starts paying attention to his foster sister Rachel instead of him. But when Nazi planes begin bombing the city, Matt finds himself in an impossible situation. Can he be a hero to his sister when it matters most? And when they get caught outside during the air raid, will Chief be there to save the day? This paper-over-board edition includes a collectible poster and a pull-out map!

  2. Rosie: Stronger Than Steel - A brave tractor farms for freedom in a story inspired by women who acted with courage and strength in American factories and on British farms during World War II.

  3. The Chaos Loop - Peter Lerangis, the New York Times bestselling author of the Seven Wonders and Max Tilt series, returns with the second installment of his electrifying trilogy about a boy who discovers that he alone can alter the course of history. Ever since Corey Fletcher found out that he’s the world’s first “throwback,” with the power to not only visit history, but change it, he’s been spending as much time in the past as possible. Corey loves using his skills to fix problems and help his friends and family. But as Corey becomes more and more addicted to rewriting history, he learns that time travel might change him in ways he may never be able to reverse. Aware now that he can’t keep going into the past forever, Corey decides to use the trips he still has to change history in the most meaningful way he can imagine: by stopping Adolf Hitler. But when Corey travels back to World War II-era Germany, he quickly learns that the forces of history are strong and that it’s going to take a lot more than his good intentions to turn back the tides of evil—or even to survive them. Get ready for time-warping adventure with a historical twist in the second book of the Throwback trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Peter Lerangis, whose books have sold over five and a half million copies worldwide.

  4. The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery - Flossie Birdwhistle is the Turnkey at London’s Highgate Cemetery. As Turnkey, it’s Flossie’s job to ensure that all the souls buried in the cemetery stay at rest. Not an easy job for a young ghost, but a task made especially difficult by World War II: London is being attacked every night by enemy bombers, and even the dead are unsettled. When Flossie encounters the ghost of a German soldier carrying a mysterious object that seems to exist in both the living and spirit worlds, she becomes suspicious—what is the officer up to? Before long, Flossie uncovers a sinister plot that could destroy not only her cemetery, but also her beloved country. Can Flossie and her ghostly friends stop the soldier before it’s too late? History collides with the supernatural in this exciting, ethereal mystery from Allison Rushby.

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How about books about war?

Books About 1940s and Military And Wars

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Navajo Code Talkers
Written by Blake Hoena
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

During World War II U.S. forces had to keep battle plans and other top secret information out of the enemy’s hands. Coded messages were often used, but secret codes could be broken. To solve this problem, the U.S. military turned to an unexpected source to create an unbreakable code. The Navajo people spoke a complex language that few outsiders knew how to speak. Several Navajo soldiers were recruited to develop a code based on the Navajo language. The result was a complex code that could not be solved by the enemy. Learn all about the brave Navajo Code Talkers and how their unbreakable code helped defeat the enemy and win the war.

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Night Witches at War
Written by Bruce Berglund
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

Flying combat missions in wartime is always dangerous. But imagine doing so in a slow, rickety biplane, at night, with no lights or navigational equipment of any kind. Sound impossible? It wasn’t for the Soviet Night Witches. This unit of incredibly brave women flew hundreds of missions to attack German forces on the front lines during World War II. Learn all about these brave women and how their skill and courage in battle helped defeat the Nazis to win the war.

Buy book
$7.95
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$6.76
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$7.95
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Add to list
History Smashers: Pearl Harbor
Written by Kate Messner
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Myths! Lies! Secrets! Uncover the hidden truth behind the infamous Pearl Harbor attack with beloved educator/author Kate Messner. The fun mix of sidebars, illustrations, photos, and graphic panels make this perfect for fans of I Survived! and Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales.
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Honorable Mentions
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  1. Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber - Christmas from Heaven is the story of the humble beginnings of what became a beacon of hope to a war-torn land, the story of Gail Halvorsen, a young pilot in the US Army Air Corps who was assigned as a cargo pilot to the Berlin Airlift, in which US forces flew much-needed supplies into a Soviet-blockaded Berlin.

  2. Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace - In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. He endured the terrible lies white officers told about the black soldiers to isolate them from anyone who showed kindness—including each other. He received worse treatment than even Nazi POWs. He was assigned the grimmest, most horrific tasks, like burying fallen soldiers…but was told to remove the black soldiers first because the media didn’t want them in their newsreels. And he waited and wanted so desperately to go home, watching every white soldier get safe passage back to the United States before black soldiers were even a thought. For the next forty years, Ashley would keep his time in the war a secret. But now, he tells his story. The story of the kind people who supported him. The story of the bright moments that guided him through the dark. And the story of his passion for art that would save him time and time again. Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.

  3. The Brave Cyclist - Once a skinny and weak child, Gino Bartali rose to become a Tour de France champion and one of cycling’s greatest stars. But all that seemed unimportant when his country came under the grip of a brutal dictator and entered World War II on the side of Nazi Germany. Bartali might have appeared a mere bystander to the harassment and hatred directed toward Italy’s Jewish people, but secretly he accepted a role in a dangerous plan to help them. Putting his own life at risk, Bartali used his speed and endurance on a bike to deliver documents Jewish people needed to escape harm. His inspiring story reveals how one person could make a difference against violence and prejudice during the time of the Holocaust.

  4. On the Horizon - From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII's most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak.

Books About 1940s and Sports And Recreation

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Touch the Sky
Written by Ann Malaspina & illustrated by Eric Velasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A biography of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, from her childhood in segregated Albany, Georgia, in the 1930s, through her recognition at the 1996 Olympics as one of the hundred best athletes in Olympic history. Includes bibliographical references.

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Joltin' Joe DiMaggio
Written by Jonah Winter & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Bestselling author Jonah Winter and award-winning illustrator James E. Ransome knock it out of the park with this tribute to one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived, Joe DiMaggio. In the golden age of baseball, sports announcers ruled the radio, winning and losing was front-page news, and just about every young boy wanted to grow up to wear Yankee pinstripes, including Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, Jr., a first generation Italian from San Francisco. “Baseball is not a job,” said young Joe’s dad, but through hard work and dedication, Joe grew up to make headlines as a top centerfielder and ace hitter—Joltin’ Joe, the Yankee Clipper. And when the paychecks started rolling in and the newspaper reporters wouldn’t stop calling, you can bet Pop was mighty proud! During the Depression and WWII the country needed something to cheer for, and Joe was the star player who outshone the rest, even marrying movie star Marilyn Monroe—all by keeping his mouth shut and his eye on the ball.

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Players in Pigtails
Written by Shana Corey & illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Katie Casey, a fictional character, helps start the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which gave women the opportunity to play professional baseball while America was involved in World War II.

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  1. Becoming Muhammad Ali - From two heavy-hitters in children's literature comes a critically acclaimed biographical novel of cultural icon Muhammad Ali.

  2. Barbed Wire Baseball - Traces the childhood dream of Japanese-American baseball pioneer Kenichi Zenimura of playing professionally and his family’s struggles in a World War II internment camp where he introduces baseball to raise hope.

  3. Dirt on Their Skirts: The Story of the Young Women who Won the World Championship - You had to be really, really good to play in the 1946 championship game between the Racine Belles and the Rockford Peaches. Sitting in the stands, Margaret thrills to every crack of the bat. Someday she hopes to join her heroes like Sophie “the Flash” Kurys and Betty “Moe” Trezza. As the ball hurtles toward the plate, Margaret can almost feel what it would be like to be in that batter’s position, arms tensed, bat held high.As we see this historic game in the annals of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League through the eyes of a fictional young girl, Dirt on Their Skirts is a potent reminder that women athletes have inspired young fans throughout the twentieth century. Based on written accounts and on the memories of the players themselves, this exciting story is for all those sandlot sluggers whose hearts beat a little faster whenever they hear the words?”Play ball!”

Books About 1940s and 1930's

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It Rained Warm Bread
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-14

Moishe was thirteen when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and he was sent to Auschwitz. His home was ravaged, his family torn apart by illness and abduction. Years of brutality drew on as Moishe moved from one labor camp to the next. Finally, towards the end of the war and at the peak of Moishe’s deepest despair, a simple act of kindness by a group of courageous Czech women redeemed his faith that goodness could survive the trials of war: That was the day it rained warm bread. Deftly articulated and beautifully illustrated, this is a strong addition to the ever-important genre of Holocaust testimonies.

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Anne Frank (Little Guides to Great Lives)
Written by Isabel Thomas & illustrated by Paola Escobar
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-11

Anne Frank was an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times. Forced to go into hiding to escape the Nazis’ persecution of Jews in World War II, Anne kept a diary that would become one of the most famous books in the world.

Meet one of history’s most inspiring figures in this beautifully-illustrated guide to her amazing life.

From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way.

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Prisoner B-3087
Written by Alan Gratz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
Survive. At any cost.
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Honorable Mentions
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  1. We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport - Sibert Honor author Deborah Hopkinson illuminates the true stories of Jewish children who fled Nazi Germany, risking everything to escape to safety on the Kindertransport. An NCTE Orbis Pictus recommended book.

  2. Spies, Lies, and Disguise - In the late 1930s, times were desperate. The world found itself at war again, less than twenty years after the first World War had ended. No one could quite believe it. The leaders of every country involved were left with no choice. They had to try to end the war as fast as possible, using whatever means they could. That meant coming up with secret operations meant to deceive, deflect, and confuse their enemies. Poison the cattle that the Germans eat? Deliberately float a corpse dressed as a spy across the water to have it wash up on Germany’s shore? These were all real tactics attempted with the ultimate goal of defeating Hitler. Readers will be captivated by the classified and covert efforts made by each side as they tried to gain the upper hand and win the war.

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Books About 1940s and Survival Stories

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White Bird
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Inspired by her blockbuster phenomenon Wonder, R. J. Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with an unforgettable, Sydney Taylor Book Award-winning story of the power of kindness and unrelenting courage in a time of war.
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Lifeboat 12
Written by Susan Hood
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-13

In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

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Allies
Written by Alan Gratz
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
A New York Times bestseller!

Alan Gratz, bestselling author of Refugee, weaves a stunning array of voices and stories into an epic tale of teamwork in the face of tyranny -- and how just one day can change the world.

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  1. Village of Scoundrels - Newbery Honor recipient Margi Preus tells the incredible true story of a group of French teenagers who helped save refugees in WWII

  2. Alice on the Island: A Pearl Harbor Survival Story - In 1941, thirteen-year-old Alice’s days are filled with swimming in the Hawaiian sea, going to school, and helping watch her younger siblings. But on December 7, everything changes when she experiences an act of war, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As the United States enters World War II, Alice’s father is sent to a Japanese internment camp, leaving Alice and the rest of her family struggling to adjust to life without him. Featuring nonfiction support material, a glossary, and reader response questions, this Girls Survive story takes readers to one of history’s most important moments.

Books About 1940s and Social Themes

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Boxes for Katje
Written by Candace Fleming
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Simple seeds of friendship grow into something extraordinary

After World War II there is little left in Katje's town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. Then one spring morning when the tulips bloom thick and bright, Postman Kleinhoonte pedals his bicycle down Katje's street to deliver a mysterious box - a box from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Mayfield, Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What's inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks - beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.

This inspiring story, with strikingly original art, is based on the author's mother's childhood and will show young readers that they, too, can make a difference.

Boxes for Katje is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year and a 2006 California Young Readers Medal for Picture Books for Older Readers winner

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Book Thief
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-17

The extraordinary #1 “New York Times” bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul. <BR>It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. <BR>Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist-books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. <BR>In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of “I Am the Messenger, “ has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

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Making Bombs for Hitler
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

For readers who were enthralled by Alan Gratz’s <i>Prisoner B-3087</i> comes a gripping novel about a lesser-known part of WWII.<br></br>Lida thought she was safe. Her neighbors wearing the yellow star were all taken away, but Lida is not Jewish. She will be fine, won’t she? <p/>But she cannot escape the horrors of World War II. <p/>Lida’s parents are ripped away from her and she is separated from her beloved sister, Larissa. The Nazis take Lida to a brutal work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children are forced into backbreaking labor. Starving and terrified, Lida bonds with her fellow prisoners, but none of them know if they’ll live to see tomorrow. <p/>When Lida and her friends are assigned to make bombs for the German army, Lida cannot stand the thought of helping the enemy. Then she has an idea. What if she sabotaged the bombs… and the Nazis? Can she do so without getting caught? <p/>And if she’s freed, will she ever find her sister again? <p/>This pulse-pounding novel of survival, courage, and hope shows us a lesser-known piece of history – and is sure to keep readers captivated until the last page.

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  1. Finding Langston - A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, with 5 Starred Reviews, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2018 When eleven-year-old Langston’s father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago’s Bronzeville district, it feels like he’s giving up everything he loves. It’s 1946. Langston’s mother has just died, and now they’re leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything– Grandma’s Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved. In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn’t feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he’s lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he’s bullied for being a country boy. But Langston’s new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston–a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him. Lesa Cline-Ransome, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book Before She Was Harriet, has crafted a lyrical debut novel about one boy’s experiences during the Great Migration. Includes an author’s note about the historical context and her research. Winner of the 2019 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction A Junior Library Guild selection!

  2. Blue Skies - For fans of Kate DiCamillo's Louisiana's Way Home, this heartwarming novel tells the story of ten-year-old Glory Bea as she prepares for a miracle of her very own--her father's return home.

  3. Ahimsa - In this historical middle-grade novel, Gandhi asks for one member of each family to join the fight for independence from the British, and when Anjali's mother is jailed for doing so, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother's work.

  4. Coming on Home Soon - Ada Ruth’s mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It’s war time, and women are needed to fill the men’s jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.

Books About 1940s and Friendship

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The Brave Princess and Me
Written by Kathy Kacer & illustrated by Juliana Kolesova
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Princess Alice of Greece is known for her kindness. Born deaf, she knows what it is like to be discriminated against. In 1943 the Second World War is raging, and the Nazis have taken control of Greece. All Jews in the country are in danger, including young Tilde Cohen and her mother, Rachel. On the run, they are in search of a safe place to hide from the Nazis. When they arrive unannounced on Princess Alice’s doorstep, begging her to shelter them, the princess’s kindness is put to the test.

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A Scarf for Keiko
Written by Ann Malaspina & illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

It's 1942. Sam's class is knitting socks for soldiers and Sam is a terrible knitter. Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don't want anything to do with her because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and her family is Japanese American. When Keiko's family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, can Sam find a way to demonstrate his friendship?

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I Survived the Nazi Invasion, 1944 (I Survived #9)
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11
One of the darkest periods in history...
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  1. The Rhino in Right Field - A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

  2. Autumn Street - Elizabeth is forced to grow up when her father goes to fight in World War II. Her family moves in with her grandfather, and a special friend is struck by tragedy. An ALA Notable Children’s Book.

  3. Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself - Sally investigates post-WWII Florida with theatrical flair in this classic middle grade novel from Judy Blume. Now with a fresh new look! Sally J. Freedman was ten when she made herself a movie star. She would have been happy to reach stardom in New Jersey, but in 1947 her older brother Douglas became ill, so the Freedman family traveled south to spend eight months in the sunshine of Florida. That’s where Sally met her friends Andrea, Barbara, Shelby, Peter, and Georgia Blue Eyes—and her unsuspecting enemy, Adolf Hitler. Dear Chief of Police:
    You don’t know me but I am a detective from New Jersey. I have uncovered a very interesting case down here. I have discovered that Adolf Hitler is alive and has come to Miami Beach to retire. He is pretending to be an old Jewish man…
    While she watches and waits, and keeps a growing file of letters under her bed, Sally’s Hitler will play an important—though not quite starring—role in one of her grandest movie spectaculars.

  4. Lily's Crossing - This year, as in other years, Lily has planned a spectacular summer in Rockaway, in her family’s cozy house on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean. But by the summer of 1944, World War II has changed almost everyone’s life. Lily’s best friend, Margaret, and her family have moved to a wartime factory town, and worse, much worse, Lily’s father is on his way overseas to the war.<P>There’s no one else Lily’s age in Rockaway until Albert comes, a refugee from Hungary, a boy with a secret sewn into his coat. Albert has lost most of his family in the war; he’s been through things Lily can’t imagine. But when they join together to rescue and care for a kitten, they begin a special friendship.For Lily and Albert have their own secrets to share: They both have told lies, and Lily has told a lie that may cost Albert his life.<P>.”..Giff really pulls readers’ heartstrings with Albert’s memories of his family, the loss of Margaret’s well-liked brother in the war, and Lily’s joyful reunion with Poppy. Pull out the hankies for the final scene, in which Lily returns to Rockaway the following summer to find Albert–and Ruth–waiting for her. It’s a strong ending to a deftly told story.” <BR>– “Kirkus Reviews”

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Books About 1940s and Prejudice And Racism

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Martin and Anne
Written by Nancy Churnin & illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were born the same year a world apart. Both faced ugly prejudices and violence, which both answered with words of love and faith in humanity. This is the story of their parallel journeys to find hope in darkness and to follow their dreams.

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Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation
Written by Duncan Tonatiuh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book and a 2015 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.

Praise for Separate is Never Equal
STARRED REVIEW**S**
“_Tonatiuh masterfully combines text and folk-inspired art to add an important piece to the mosaic of U.S. civil rights history.”
–_Kirkus Reviews
, starred review

“Younger children will be outraged by the injustice of the Mendez family story but pleased by its successful resolution. Older children will understand the importance of the 1947 ruling that desegregated California schools, paving the way for Brown v. Board of Education seven years later.”
School Library Journal, starred review

“Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote) offers an illuminating account of a family’s hard-fought legal battle to desegregate California schools in the years before Brown v. Board of Education.”
Publishers Weekly

“Pura Belpré Award-winning Tonatiuh makes excellent use of picture-book storytelling to bring attention to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation.”
Booklist

“The straightforward narrative is well matched with the illustrations in Tonatiuh’s signature style, their two-dimensional perspective reminiscent of the Mixtec codex but collaged with paper, wood, cloth, brick, and (Photoshopped) hair to provide textural variation. This story deserves to be more widely known, and now, thanks to this book, it will be.”
The Horn Book Magazine

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Dust of Eden
Written by Mariko Nagai
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

In 1942, 13-year-old Mina Masako Tagawa and her Japanese American family are sent from their home in Seattle to an internment camp in Idaho. All they can do is wonder when America will remember that they, too, are Americans. This memorable and powerful novel in verse, written by award-winning author Mariko Nagai, explores the nature of fear, the beauty of life, and the hope of acceptance triumphing over bigotry.

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  1. Viola Desmond Won't Be Budged! - In 1946, Viola Desmond bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia. After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the difference in price but was refused: You people have to sit in the upstairs section. Viola refused to move. She was hauled off to jail, but her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada s black community. Vibrant illustrations and oral-style prose tell Viola s story with sympathy and historical accuracy.”

  2. How High the Moon - To Kill a Mockingbird meets One Crazy Summer in this powerful, bittersweet debut about one girl's journey to reconnect with her mother and learn the truth about her father in the tumultuous times of the Jim Crow South.

Books About 1940s and Family

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The War That Saved My Life
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

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The Watcher
Written by Joan Hiatt Harlow
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

After Wendy is kidnapped, the only way she can survive World War II Germany is with the help of a special dog and the family she never knew she had in this historically accurate, standalone companion to Shadows on the Sea that Kirkus Reviews calls “a stimulating blend of suspense and history.” 1942. Berlin, Germany. How did Wendy end up in such a place? Just a few months ago, she was enjoying her time in Maine, supporting the American war effort. But she was kidnapped, then betrayed by her own mother, who is actually a Nazi spy. As a new Berliner—and now a German—Wendy is expected to speak in a language she’s never known and support a cause she doesn’t believe in. There are allies, though, among the Germans. Allies who have been watching over Wendy since she arrived. And Wendy, along with her new German shepherd puppy, must confront them. If only she can find them. Her life depends on it.

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War Stories
Written by Gordon Korman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Restart, a story of telling truth from lies -- and finding out what being a hero really means.
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  1. Beholding Bee - In 1942, when life turns sour at the carnival that has always been her home, eleven-year-old Bee takes her dog, Peabody, and piglet, Cordelia, and sets out to find a real home, aided by two women only Bee and her pets can see.

  2. Joey: The Story of Joe Biden - Joey is the first ever picture book about the young life of Joe Biden, the 47th Vice President of the United States, and includes never before told family stories about the presidential candidate and former vice president’s childhood–written by Jill Biden, his spouse. Joe Biden grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the oldest of four children. His parents always encouraged him and his siblings to be independent and strong. The family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where at twenty-nine, Biden was elected one the youngest United States Senators ever elected. This is his story.

  3. A Whale in Paris - A hopeful and heroic girl befriends a small, lost whale during World War II and together they embark on a journey to liberate France and find their families in this charming debut novel.

  4. My Chocolate Year - In 1945 Chicago, as her Jewish family anxiously awaits news of relatives left behind in Europe, ten-year-old Dorrie learns new recipes in the hope of winning a baking competition at school. Includes recipes for various foods, from chocolate pudding to chocolate mandelbread.

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How about books about family?

Books About 1940s and World War I

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No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
chapter book
Recommend Ages: -

From the bestselling author of “The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys” and “Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream” comes a compelling chronicle of a nation and its leaders during the period when modern America was created. Presenting an aspect of American history that has never been fully told, Doris Kearns Goodwin describes how the isolationist and divided United States of 1940 was unified under the extraordinary leadership of Franklin Roosevelt to become, only five years later, the preeminent economic and military power in the world. <BR>Using diaries, interviews, and White House records of the president’s and first lady’s comings and goings, Goodwin paints a detailed, intimate portrait not only of the daily conduct of the presidency during wartime but of the Roosevelts themselves and their extraordinary constellation of friends, advisers, and family, many of whom lived with them in the White House. <BR>Bringing to bear the tools of both history and biography, “No Ordinary Time” relates the unique story of how Franklin Roosevelt led the nation to victory against seemingly insurmountable odds and, with Eleanor’s essential help, forever changed the fabric of American society.

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Snow Treasure
Written by Marie McSwigan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

In the bleak winter of 19 0, Nazi troops parachuted into Peter Lundstrom’s tiny Norwegian village and held it captive. Nobody thought the Nazis could be defeated–until Uncle Victor told Peter how the children could fool the enemy. It was a dangerous plan. They had to slip past Nazi guards with nine million dollars in gold hidden on their sleds. It meant risking their country’s treasure–and their lives. This classic story of how a group of children outwitted the Nazis and sent the treasure to America has captivated generations of readers.

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Upstairs Room
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Newbery Honor Book - ALA Notable Book - An SLJ Best Book - A Jane Addams Award Honor Book - Winner of the Jewish Book Council Children's Book Award

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  1. Stones in Water (Revised) - When Roberto sneaks off to see a movie in his Italian village, he has no idea that life as he knows it is over. German soldiers raid the theater, round up the boys in the audience, and pack them onto a train. After a terrifying journey, Roberto and his best friend Samuele find themselves in a brutal work camp, where food is scarce and horror is everywhere. The boys vow to stay together no matter what. But Samuele has a dangerous secret, which, if discovered, could get them both killed. Lovers of historical fiction will be captivated by this tragic, triumphant, and deeply moving novel.

  2. Summer of My German Soldier - An emotional, thought-provoking book from multi-award-winning author Bette Greene.

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