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World War I and Military And Wars: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about World War I is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From Night Witches at War to The Gremlins there’s something here for everyone’s tastes. Do you have a favorite book about World War I? Let us know!

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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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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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Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace
Written & illustrated by Ashley Bryan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
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.
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A Meeting in the Sky
Written by Rina Singh & illustrated by Jordi Vila Delclos
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-10
On December 20, 1943, a German pilot escorted an American bomber to safety; this remarkable, secret meeting in the sky inspired a lifelong quest to reunite as the two former enemies became friends.
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Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War
Written & illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of a Mexican-American war hero Jos. de la Luz S.enz (1888-1953)--or Luz--believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn't receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz's diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz's later years, an author's note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.
The Brave Cyclist book
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Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code book
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The Unbreakable Zamperini book
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U. S. Ghost Army book
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  • 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.

  • Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code - As a young Navajo boy, Chester Nez had to leave the reservation and attend boarding school, where he was taught that his native language and culture were useless. But Chester refused to give up his heritage. Years later, during World War II, Chester—and other Navajo men like him—was recruited by the US Marines to use the Navajo language to create an unbreakable military code. Suddenly the language he had been told to forget was needed to fight a war. This powerful picture book biography contains backmatter including a timeline and a portion of the Navajo code, and also depicts the life of an original Navajo code talker while capturing the importance of heritage.

  • The Unbreakable Zamperini - In the 1930s Louis Zamperini was a promising Olympic track athlete. But when World War II broke out, he enlisted and served as a bombardier with the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1943 Zamperini miraculously survived when his bomber crashed in the Pacific Ocean. But that was just the beginning of his ordeal. After surviving for more than six weeks on a raft at sea, he was captured by Japanese forces and sent to a POW camp. For the next two years Zamperini endured brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese officer who chose to make an example of him. But no matter how horrible things things became, Zamp refused to be broken. Learn all about Louis Zamperini and his unbreakable spirit as a prisoner of war in World War II.

  • U. S. Ghost Army - When you need to mislead the enemy, who are you going to call? The Ghost Army of course! During World War II this top secret group of artists and special effects experts worked to deceive German forces on the front lines. Using fake combat vehicles and artillery, dummies dressed as soldiers, and broadcasting the sounds of troops and equipment, the Ghost Army often tricked the Germans into believing U.S. forces were about to attack in one place while the real troops moved against another target. Learn all about these master illustionists’ efforts to trick the Nazis and help win the war.

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Spies, Lies, and Disguise
Written by Jennifer Swanson & illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-11
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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Harlem Hellfighters
Written by J. Patrick Lewis & illustrated by Gary Kelley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
They went by many names, but the world came to know them best as the Harlem Hellfighters. Two thousand strong, these black Americans from New York picked up brass instruments—under the leadership of famed bandleader and lieutenant James Reese Europe—to take the musical sound of Harlem into the heart of war. From the creators of the 2012 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Honor Book, And the Soldiers Sang, this remarkable narrative nonfiction rendering of WWI -- and American -- history uses free-verse poetry and captivating art to tell century-old story of hellish combat, racist times, rare courage, and inspired music.
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The Gremlins
Written by Roald Dahl & illustrated by Artists and Writers Guild
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Published in 1943 and long unavailable, Dark Horse Books is proud to present this landmark book from the author of such beloved tales as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach and Matilda. Digitally restored, this remarkable presentation of Dahl's classic story, lavishly illustrated by the artists of the Walt Disney Studios, will delight readers of all ages! The Gremlins is the story of Gus, a British World War II fighter pilot, who during the Battle of Britain turned to look out on the wing of his plane only to see an amazing sight: a little man, no more than six inches tall with horns growing from his head, drilling a hole in the plane's wing. Gus was the first man to ever see a Gremlin, and what happened after that would change the war, and the world, forever. Bought by Walt Disney to be produced as an animated motion picture (and considered to be the first story featuring the mythical airplane sabotaging creatures known as Gremlins), the project was ultimately shelved and is reprinted here for the first time in over 60 years.

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