U.S. History through Children's Literature: From the Colonial Period to World War II

By Wanda J. Miller | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
World War
II


Introduction

The peace treaty that ended World War I came at a heavy price for Germany. The Germans could not rebuild their army and navy. Germans were forced to pay high fines for the damage caused by starting World War I. Many men were out of work, and money became worthless. Adolf Hitler sought to restore the pride of the German people by promising to bring Germany out of poverty and by building the country into a mighty empire. He built new factories and constructed new roads. His promises made Hitler popular with the German people. On January 30, 1933, Hitler became Germany's leader. Soon many of the rights of the German people were taken away. However, few cared because men were working again and families had food and clothing. Thus, in the 1930s, Hitler's Germany became the greatest threat to world peace and stability.

Before World War II even started, persecution of Jews began in Germany. The result was the inconceivable death of 6 million Jews by the end of World War II.

By the middle of 1941, the Axis powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan—were at war with the Allies—led by Great Britain, France, Russia, and China. The United States stayed out of the war until December 7, 1941, when Japan made a surprise attack on the U.S. forces stationed at Pearl Harbor.

World War II was the most destructive war in history. The result was millions of lives lost and the destruction of entire cities. It is important that students learn about the horrors that took place during World War II so that they might never happen again. The trade books selected here offer much opportunity for discussion and development of a more personal level of understanding.


Whole Group Reading

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989.

Annemarie, a ten-year-old girl in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen, finds the courage to help her Jewish friends escape danger in this exciting adventure story. Winner of the 1990 Newbery Medal. Grades 4–8.

Although there is much excellent literature available on the subject of World War II, Number the Stars stands out from the rest. This novel provides readers with insight into the courage of people who helped Jews escape the Nazis, as well as revealing the absolute horror of the war. For these reasons, Number the Stars was chosen to be read with the whole class.

-185-

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