We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport by Deborah Hopkinson

Published by Scholastic

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Summary:  Following Kristallnacht on November 1, 1938, rescuers organized the Kindertransport to get as many Jewish children out of Germany and Austria as they could.  About 10,000 children’s lives were saved before World War II began in the fall of 1939.  This book focuses on three of those children: what their lives were like before Hitler came to power, how changes gradually or suddenly occurred afterward, and how their parents decided to send them away, not knowing if they would ever see them again.  In most cases, they did not. Many other children are profiled more briefly. There are quite a few photos, although, sadly, not many pictures of the children or their families have survived. The 80 pages of back matter include brief profiles of survivors, rescuers, and historians; a timeline; a glossary; resources for further exploration; a bibliography; source notes; and an index.  368 pages; grades 6-10, although I’m sure there are fourth and fifth graders who would enjoy this.

Pros:  Middle school kids interested in World War II and the Holocaust will find this compelling reading.  Deborah Hopkinson really spells out how Nazism took over Germany, and how ordinary people embraced it and turned on their neighbors–a timely lesson for kids to learn.  The back matter is pretty amazing, including a lot of oral history resources where kids can hear the voices of the survivors.

Cons:  There were so many kids’ stories told, I couldn’t keep them all straight.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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