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Holocaust Literature for Youth

Taken from Teaching and Studying the Holocaust, edited by Samuel Totten and Stephen Feinberg

Holocaust Literature.Literature, in its exploration of universal themes and concerns, and in its presentation of the individual story to illustrate generalities of the human condition, is a cornerstone of both English and Holocaust education. When adolescents begin to consider their place in, and transformation of society, they can find in Holocaust literature opportunities to question decisions, to judge good and evil, and to rehearse different responses to life's infinite possibilities.

Teachers should consider eight principles when selecting Holocaust books for the classroom:

1.  Good books must be developmentally appropriate.

2.  Accompanying illustrations, art and photographs should be appropriate in content and tone.

     They should accurately reflect the time, mood and place and be respectful of the people whom

     they portray.

3.  A good book is rooted in historical context and reflects historical reality.

4.  Good books personalize the statistics, fostering empathy, compassion, involvement and

     identification with victims and survivors.

5.  Good books highlight, rather than marginalize, the Jewish experience and particular Jewish

     responses during the Holocaust.

6.  Good books bring students from the Holocaust era into the reassuring present, giving hope to

     young readers.

7.  Good books have the potential to motivate students to examine their own lives and behaviors and

     effect change where possible, providing a bridge from the world of the Holocaust to the present.

     They promote exploration of universal issues and themes evoked by the unique stories of the


8.  Good books must offer flexibility in the classroom


Suggested Resources

          Prepared by the Alabama Holocaust Commission.