World War II Nonfiction

Hitler and the annihilation of the Jews is only a piece of the World War II story. There was the war with Japan, the invasion of Normandy, civil rights issues, prisoner of war stories, the dropping of the atomic bomb, and of course, that famous photo at Iwo Jima. All of these events can be found in this highly engaging, A-list of World War II books for youth.

Flags of Our Fathers (Young Reader’s Edition) by James Bradley (Japan)


James Bradley’s father was one of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. It was captured on camera for all the world to see. The photo was not what it seemed, and John Bradley never acknowledged the photo as anything special. After he died, his son James wanted to know the story behind the photo. What he found was extraordinary.

Unbroken (Young Reader’s Edition) by Laura Hillenbrand (Japan)


In 1943 Louis Zamperini’s fighter plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. He and the crew survived a harrowing ordeal in a life boat, only to be picked up by the Japanese and sent to a POW camp. Conditions were so grueling, the men wished they were back on the lifeboat. Their resolve to live would be tested again and again.

The Day the World Went Nuclear by Bill O’Reilly (Japan)


In 1945, the United States dropped not one, but two, atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II. They were the most powerful bombs ever created up to that point. The buildings within one square mile of impact were instantly reduced to rubble. O’Reilly, provides the battle history that influenced Truman’s unprecedented decision.

D-Day by Deborah Hopkinson (Europe)


D-Day was the turning point of World War II. The United States, Britain and Canada united together for one of the bloodiest battles in war history. Hopkinson details the complexity of the plan, the five Allied entry points, the arrival of the supply gliders, followed by the paratroopers, and finally the assault from water.

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin (Japan)


During WWII, German scientists discovered the potential to unleash massive amounts of energy from a nuclear chain reaction and the race was on to build the world’s most destructive weapon. Under the strictest call for secrecy in a converted school in New Mexico, America’s best physicists came together to outwit the Germans.

Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin


During World War II, black men could not participate in combat duty, so they loaded explosives onto ships. After a devastating explosion kills everyone on duty, the off duty men refused to continue loading ammunition. The men were court-martialed, found guilty and sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose


When Denmark surrendered to Germany in WWII, a handful of teenagers decided to form a secret organization called the Churchill Club after the British prime minister who defied Hitler. They harassed the Nazis by vandalizing, committing arson and stealing weapons. Eventually they were caught, but their actions inspired a nation.

Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti


The Hitler Youth, which began as an organization like the Boy Scouts, eventually became regimented and militaristic. When the war began, membership became mandatory for all German youth. Jews were refused membership. The youth put Hitler above all others, turning against friends and family if necessary.

We Will Not Be Silent by Russell Freedman


After first being members of the Hitler Youth, Hans and Sophie Scholl came to deplore Hitler’s ideas. With a small group of friends at the University of Munich, they formed a resistance organization called the White Rose. They were caught, interrogated, tried, and sentenced to death. Before the war ended, their pamphlets made it all around Europe.

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