Thursday, 3 May 2018

Second World War Learning Resources

Last term, we had a project about the First World War and this term, we switch to the Second World War. This is a plethora of resources which can be used for teaching children about the Second World War. These are books that either we have used or we hope to use soon.

Spine book
We are using the Usborne Introduction to the Second World War.
We read a double page spread each morning.
We have found that the linked videos for these books are often worth watching. I haven't seen all of them though!


Read alouds
There are so many Second World War read alouds. This is a small selection which we have enjoyed.


  • The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig
    is the true story of a Jewish family deported from Vilna, then in Poland (now Vilnius in Lithuania) to Siberia after the Russians invaded Poland in 1941. 
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom is another true story about a Dutch Christian family who hid Jews. This book is quite sad in places. I recently read it with my eleven year old who thought it was one of the best books she has read, however, do avoid this with very sensitive children and I would suggest reading this together for children who are not yet teenagers. Christian Focus have a children's biography of Corrie ten Boom called The Watchmaker's daughter by Jean Watson. We read this before The Hiding Place. This book provoked discussion and led to the read of The Hiding Place.
  • Number the Stars  by Lois Lowry is a fictional story about the escape of Jews from Denmark to Sweden. This book was read in my home education book club by children aged 9-13 and was well received. It uses historical facts to weave the story. 
  • Chinese Cinderella is a rather different book which is set in China at the time of the Second World War and afterwards. This isn't directly about the war but brings to light how it affected China.
  • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is the account of how author Judith Kerr's family escaped Nazi Germany in the preWar years and their life in exile. This book is suitable for older children. I haven't read the sequels but my understanding is that they are not so child friendly.
  • The Silver Sword is about refugees at the end of the War. I loved this book as a child although rereading as an adult, it seemed that the ending was unrealistically optimistic but it certainly gives ground for hope.
  • Hero on a Bicycle, by Shirley Hughes, is a story about the Italian Resistance.
Picture Books
  • Grandfather's Journey tells how an American-Japanese family was affected by the War.
  • All those Secrets of the War is about an American father going away to the War.
  • A new coat for Anna shows the devastation in post War Europe as the mother works to get her daughter a new coat.
  • Boxes for Katje tells the story of how a friendship was forged helping the people of post War Netherlands.
Other Resources
  • Family history/members. We have a Second World War diary written by the children's Grandfather and oral history about grandparents/greatgrandparents/greatgreatgrandparents. For us, this covers the Blitz, the Battle of Britain, rationing, the War in Italy and Africa, the Observer Corps and MI5 so plenty to talk about. I imagine that many families have a similar amount of World War Two history covered.
  • Bombsight is a website which maps places where bombs fell in the UK during the War.

 Places to Visit
  • Imperial War Museum has a permanent exhibition about a London family during the War. This is child friendly. We have been to this exhibition several times. There is also a Holocaust exhibition which is not recommended for children under the age of 14. I haven't seen this as I haven't been to the Museum without a child under 14 for many years. 
  • The Jewish Museum do have a small Holocaust section which is suitable for younger children. 
  • Cabinet War Rooms-I haven't been to these although one of the children went on a home education trip.
  • Dover Castle-Secret Wartime Tunnels and Hospital.
  • Chartwell-the home of Winston Churchill.

Please add your recommendations for teaching children about the Second World War in the comments.
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2 comments:

  1. Oh, there are some good books about the Netherlands as well. Here's a list of our top WW2 books: http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2013/11/world-war-ii-book-list/

    I have never read Chinese Cinderella, nor Hero on a Bicycle. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  2. And The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher, which I though I'd reviewed online but forgot to. So much fun! I'll post it soon.

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