Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year. It’s a time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. On HMD we can honour the survivors of these regimes and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
We have collated some books that may help teachers share these poignant stories with their class.
The Harmonica by Tony Johnston - Illustrated by Ron Mazellan
The story is Henry's. Henry was a jew living in Poland during WWII. When the Nazi's invade the family finds itself split - Henry in one concentration camp and his parents in another.
Henry though has his prized possession with him, a harmonica which his father taught him to play. He plays this in the darkness, he 'played it to keep from losing hope.'
Henry plays Schubert as his heart is breaking, by some 'terrible miracle' he is heard playing by the camp commandment who each night after making him play tosses him some meagre food. This makes Henry feel guilty, guilty that he is playing beautiful music for such a monster but also because he is 'getting bread while others starved to death.' He feels sick to his stomach with guilt until one night the other prisoners thank him for bringing the beauty of the music into their sad existence.
Alternative Children's books with similar themes
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Benno and the Night of Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott.
Young Person's Novels
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This is not an exhaustive list. Please add your own recommendations in the comments below.
"Failing to get the attention of her busy father, a lonely girl turns back to a fantastic world for friendship and adventure..."
The third book in this Caldecott Honour winning trilogy of wordless picture books is as exciting and beautiful as its predecessors.
In this book we return to the world of canals, castles, samurai warriors and brightly coloured birds. All of whom bring a mix of danger and beauty.
Our lonely, young adventurer has the help of her friends and also surprisingly someone from home.