Gentle Stories of Hope to Introduce the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah
The Holocaust is a difficult subject to approach with children. As we approach Yom HaShoah in a particularly challenging year, it may be helpful to highlight moments of strength, resilience, and hope as a response to times of fear.
Here are three stories perfect for ages 7-12 that offer a gentle introduction to the Holocaust, each told through singular stories that highlight stories of perseverance.
Hand in Hand
Separated from her family, Ruthi struggles to find hope by holding tight to a childhood promise in this story of loss and love. Reminiscent of the stylings of Art Spiegleman's Maus, this fablelike introduction to the Holocaust is "a helpful beginning," according to Kirkus Reviews.
Mama hugged us too tightly.
Pressed kisses upon our heads
Then suddenly, like the sun
She was gone…
I held Lieb’s hand in mine,
I told him I’d never let him go.
In an interview, author Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum underscores why it's imperative to teach the Holocaust to our children and students.
"We’re obligated to teach children that underneath our skin we’re all exactly the same," Rosenbaum says. "The Holocaust is not just Jewish history. Any people, culture, or religion can be singled out and blamed for societal ills. The challenge is for us ... make sure that it never happens again."
Read the full interview with the author here.
Roller-Coaster Grandma: The Amazing Story of Dr. Ruth
By Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Pierre Lehu
Illustrated by Mark Simmons
Dr. Ruth’s life has been anything but boring. Roller-Coaster Grandma recounts Dr. Ruth’s escape from the Nazis at age 10 aboard a Kindertransport, to her training as a sniper with the Haganah in Israel, through her immigration to the U.S., where she started as a maid, became a college professor, and eventually a television star. Using a trip to an amusement park with her grandchildren as its framework, the story subtly demonstrates the lessons of grit, resilience, and strength that readers can apply to their own lives.
The Tattooed Torah
By Marvell Ginsburg
Illustrated by Martin Lemelman
This true story of the rescue and restoration of a small Torah from Brno, Czechoslovakia, teaches the Holocaust not only as a period of destruction but also as an opportunity for redemption.
Read a letter written by author Marvell Ginsburg here on how to discuss the difficult subject of the Holocaust with children.
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