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History books I rate: World War Two

Some of you might know I teach History at High School. I love finding good YA historical fiction which I can use in the classroom if only to recommend to my students as wider reading.

I do however find that I can be very critical of historical fiction and I do find myself having to give up on books others have raved about because I can't get over historical inaccuracies or stories where events are treated lightly.

I therefore have decided to start highlighting the historical books I really love from time to time on here.

Today's focus are books around World War Two

YA titles

First up is the Paradise Barn series by Victor Watson. They are a series of four books set on the homefront in East Anglian and I love love love them! They are brilliant stories appropriate for tweens as well as teens. As well as being entertaining the history in them is good as quite honestly I can't recommend them enough.

Annexed by Sharon Dogar is also fab. It is the story we all know from Anne Frank's diary told from Peter's point of view. I must admit I was worried when I start this book. I thought I would hate it but actually I loved it and felt it gave a nice way in for students who loved Anne Frank's diary but didn't know what to read next.

Run Rabbit Run by Barbara Mitchelhill is a fab book for me as a teacher. The story is exciting and engaging throughout and I love how it focuses on conscientious objectors during World War Two. Everything you read (or so it seems) focuses on Blitz Spirit and how everyone was fighting as one and I like how this tells the story from that different view point.

This book, I must admit wasn't my personal favourite as reader. I'm not a keen military historian but I teach a lot of boys who do love military history and this book fits the bill perfectly for them,

I only read Rose under Fire recently. I was not a fan of Code Name Verity but this for me was brilliant. It focuses on women who served in World War Two, it looks at the concentration camps and it utterly heartbreaking.

Another book I've recently read. It looks at a young teenager who is part of the resistance in Belgium. Another book which is heartbreaking and will stick with you for a long time to come.

Adult books
These are books I would be recommending for my older students as I think they are excellent

It was been an age since I read Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy and I fully intend to reread it again soon. This book is epic. It is huge. It is told from over eight different points of view split over several countries and is utterly engrossing. I love that over the course of the book you start to see the separate narrative merge and the OCD within me wants to have a pen and paper with me next time I read it to plot all the connections. It is heartbreaking and spectacular and I loved every page,

I love this book too. If you've had the misfortune of seeing the Film of Charlotte Gray this is nothing like it. It is the story of a girl who goes to France as a spy to find her lost airman lover and it is just brilliant. I was hooked.

This isn't a book about World War Two as it touches on several events including World War Two but I only read it recently and it was spectacular so I wanted to recommend.

If you love fiction set in World War Two you'll also love

Yes I snuck it in. It isn't World War Two but set during the Spanish Civil War but if you are anything like me and love your Modern European History this will work for you. It also sets up the scene to what Europe was like in the build up to World War Two so I think it fits. I loved it completely as it was nice to read something a bit different. If you have an iPad the interactive ebook is amazing!


YAY! I love seeing historical books featured on your blog. Hope to see more recommendations soon :)

...I've loved all of these books that I've read. Not the biggest fan or reader of historical fiction, but I'm slowing easing my way in ...
Sarah said…
After reading Code Name Verity I've had a craving to check out more WWII books! I've already got a library hold on Rose Under Fire so I can't wait to check that out. Cross My Heart sounds really good, as do the Paradise Barn books. Thanks for featuring them!

As adult titles go I really enjoyed The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, A Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

I'm just like Clover in that I don't read a lot of historical, but this is a time period I find really interesting.

Thanks for sharing these titles!
I haven't read a single one of these - that's awful, isn't it?

I struggle to get on with war novels, though I do like historical fiction generally. I don' know what it is.
Anna Scott said…
Annexed looks very intriguing. As well as pretty much everything else on this list! I'm especially looking forward to Rose Under Fire. Thanks KIrsty :)
I've only read the Wein books so thank you for your great recommendations-if these books can compare to CNV and RUF, then I'll be very happy to read them!