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June 4, 2014

Honoring D-Day's 70th Anniversary - WWII Roundup

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To honor the 70th anniversary of D-Day --- the day that Allied troops began the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during WWII --- Teen Board member Rachel B. rounded up some of her favorite WWII YA books. Read her list below, and choose the one that sounds most interesting to you to commemorate this important occasion!


June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day, one of the most important events in the Second World War.  World War II is by far the most notable and memorable event in history that still has witnesses alive today. Because of this, countless historical and historical fiction books for various age groups have been published about the topic.

But, most veterans and witnesses of WWII are well into their nineties.  These witnesses may only be living for a few more years, and it is crucial to record their stories, tales and memories while they can tell them directly.  Despite the number of WWII novels already published, many tales are untold and may remain so.  It is important to take interest in the memories that have survived and encourage the recording of others.  Some stories may be pure fiction, but these tales can still convey a sense of the time, the feelings and the events that some of today's aged veterans and war survivors might have experienced.

There are so many WWII historical fiction novels for young adults.  This age group can handle the events of WWII emotionally, and they already have seen some of the historical impact and perspective, but young adults and teens still need to add to their knowledge.  I have read many WWII historical fiction novels, some of which have earned a place among my favorite books.  Young adult readers might enjoy any one of the following WWII historical novels:

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS by John Boyne. This is a sad but meaningful book that captures the horror of the Holocaust. It teaches a moral through a slightly unrealistic story without pretending that the events in the novel would have happened during that time. 

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak. Narrated by Death, this emotional novel questions how humans can do both wonderful and terrible things.  

ONCE by Morris Gleitzman.  Jewish Felix is completely unaware of what's going on outside of the Catholic orphanage he's been living in for years.  But will he keep his old opinions after he journeys across Nazi-occupied Poland in search of his parents?    

YELLOW STAR by Jennifer Roy. Told in verse, this book tells the story of one of a handful of children who survived the Lodz ghetto in Poland.

CODE TALKER: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac. After being forced to learn English and accept American culture and ways as a child, a young Navajo man who has been renamed Ned is shocked to learn that he must use his native language to help his adopted country win the war.

ANNE FRANK: A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Anne Frank, a surprisingly normal girl who happens to be Jewish, records her everyday life as she grows from a child to a young woman in the Secret Annex in which she must hide.  

MILKWEED by Jerry Spinelli. This book follows a Gypsy orphan who does not even know his own name but believes in pleasures that others have long ago dismissed as impossible. He struggles to hold onto his ideas as he sees the true face of the world.   

THE GREEN GLASS SEA by Ellen Klages. In Los Alamos, a town that does not officially exist, "the gadget" is being developed and two young girls are about to witness its effects.    

This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  Perhaps the best way to commemorate the occasion is to read or re-read a WWII book and remember those who fought and died in the Second World War.


Rachel B. is a member of the Teen Board.