World War 2 Booklist for Middle School and High School

High School, Middle School, World War 2 history book list for homeschool teens and tweens

Textbook Free History for Teens

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My favorite part of homeschool planning?  Collecting stacks of books and making epic booklists.

The only problem?  Sometimes I find so many awesome books…that we won’t actually have time to read them all.  And it’s certainly not getting easier now that I’m crafting homeschool book lists for my middle school and high school students!  Alas and alack!

These teens and tweens are now ready for books that will challenge them not only academically but also philosophically.  We’ll be asking big questions and having deep conversations.  We’ll be processing and responding to ideas in our reading journals.  As always, we will focus on the people of history more than mere events.

best World War 2 books for teens

This isn’t your everyday, average homeschool booklist. When it comes to our #textbookfree history studies, I don’t manage the too-many-books dilemma by skimping on the book stacks.  Instead, I assign a few titles to each student, and then offer the remaining titles as options for their supplemental reading requirement.  Unlike a standard homeschool history curriculum, my job is to spread a rich feast of ideas before them, but they get to choose among the various dishes to fill their plate.

WW2 Book List for Teens Table Of Contents
  1. Textbook Free History for Teens
  2. World War 2 Non-Fiction (including biography and memoir)
  3. World War 2 Fiction
  4. What are your favorite WW2 era books, films, or documentaries for homeschooling teens? 
High School, Middle School, World War 2 history book list for homeschool teens and tweens

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Content Warning: Please Note that this list contains a variety of titles dealing with serious topics. Please consider the maturity of your individual teen when selecting titles from this list.

World War 2 Non-Fiction (including biography and memoir)

An important part of our homeschool history studies is our non-fiction foundation. Historical fiction and living stories are an integral part of our historical exploration as well, but I believe it is crucial to lay a foundation with biography, memoir, and non-fiction surveys of the time period we’re studying.

When it comes to WW2 books for teens, the particular non-fiction titles you choose will depend on the maturity of your student, how deeply you want to delve into this particular period of world history, and your child’s personal interest in the material. 

The following non-fiction titles are shared in alphabetical order by author. When applicable, links to reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Redeemed Reader are included.

Please do your own research to determine which titles are best for the middle schoolers and high schoolers in your home.

The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman 

The true story of zookeepers in Warsaw who saved hundreds of Jews from the Nazis.

Goodreads | Amazon |

Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose 

While The Good Fight (by the same author) is accessible to both middle and high school students, the content in this book is probably best for an older teen.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won, Stephen Ambrose 

Written by well-respected historian Stephen Ambrose, this illustrated guide to WW2 is perfect for middle school and up. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman, Gladys Aylward 

This memoir tells the story of British missionary to China, Gladys Aylward.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

The Boys in the Boat, Daniel Brown 

This book tells the tale of “Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” There is also a Young Readers edition available for your middle schoolers.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

The Second World War, Winston Churchill

Churchill’s 6-volume masterpiece is nearly as much memoir as it is history. Individual titles include The Gathering Storm, Their Finest Hour, The Grand Alliance, The Hinge of Fate, Closing the Ring, and Triumph and Tragedy. It details the time period from the end of WW1 to July 1945, focusing primarily on the British perspective, as we’d expect from a history written by the British Prime Minister. Churchill’s literary ability is incredible, as evidenced by his winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. Content appropriate for middle school and up, but the length and detail probably means it is best for older teens or a highly motivated and interested younger student. There is also an abridged version available.

Goodreads | Amazon

best World War 2 books for teens

The Diary of Anne Frank 

The intimate diary of a 13-year old Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis, published after her death in a concentration camp.

Goodreads | Amazon |

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler, John Hendrix

If your teen enjoys graphic novels, they will enjoy this true story of German pastor Bonhoeffer and the plot to kill Hitler.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Hiroshima, John Hershey 

I remember being completely gripped by this short but powerful book as a teen. Told from the perspective of survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima, it “stirs the conscience of humanity” (The New York Times).

Goodreads | Amazon

Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand 

The subtitle is A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. It recounts the true story of Louis Zamperini. A Young Adult adaptation is also available.

 Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment, Jeanne Houston 

In this memoir, the author recounts her experience as a young child from California who, along with hundreds of other Japanese Americans, was placed in an internment camp during WW2.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Churchill, Paul Johnson 

A brief, easy-to-read biography of Winston Churchill by historian Paul Johnson. I personally enjoyed this book on audiobook.

Goodreads | Amazon |

The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan 

History and science weave together to tell the story of the young women whose lives were forever altered by their secret work in a small town in Tennessee.

Goodreads | Amazon

Never Give In, Stephen Mansfield 

Part of the Leaders in Action series, an easy-to-read biography of Winston Churchill.

Goodreads | Amazon

FDR and the American Crisis, Albert Marrin

Albert Marrin, prolific American historian and author of dozens of history books for youthful readers, is a go-to resource when it comes to history books for teens. Each of these titles by Marrin would be worth reading for readers in both middle school and high school. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Hitler, Albert Marrin

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Stalin: Russia’s Man of Steel, Albert Marrin

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II, Albert Marrin

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Victory in the Pacific , Albert Marrin

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Beyond Courage- the Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust, Doreen Rappaport 

This book includes not only gripping true stories of the Jewish resistance during the holocaust, but also a timeline, pronunciation guide, maps, and more.

Goodreads | Amazon

Evidence Not Seen, Darlene Deibler Rose 

While many people are familiar with Corrie Ten Boom’s story, fewer know the story of Christian missionary Darlene Deibler Rose and her internment by the Japanese. Highly recommend this book!

Goodreads | Amazon

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer 

This book is a National Book Award Winner and “one of the most important works of history of our time” (The New York Times). I remember being gripped by this book as a homeschooled teen myself. It is highly researched and detailed. Probably better for older teens.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

best World War 2 books for teens

Bomb- the Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, Steve Sheinkin 

Bomb is a Newbery Honor book, a National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature, and a Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title. Written primarily for middle grade readers, the story is sure to captivate teens of all ages. 

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Goodreads | Amazon

Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterley 

This title focuses on the NASA’s African American female mathematicians. Although it is not exclusively focused on WW2, the inclusion of these women began during the labor shortages of the war, and I think it is still a title worth including in your teen’s studies. For middle schoolers, there is a Young Reader’s edition by the same title.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom 

This classic memoir of God’s faithfulness in the midst of the autrocities of WW2 is one every teen (and adult) ought to read.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

“The Good War”- An Oral History of World War Two, Studs Terkel 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Includes the reminisces of 121 participants in World War 2. Potentially best for older teens.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Candy Bomber, Michael O. Tunnel 

This middle-grade history includes photographs, letters, and documents. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, Carole Boston Weatherford 

History in verse celebrating the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen, the groundbreaking African American pilots of WW2. While this is primarily focused on a younger, middle-grade reader, I think it is worth adding to your middle school and high school list.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Bring all ages together to explore WW2 during Morning Time!

World War 2 Fiction

Historical fiction is a wonderful way to engage with our homeschool history studies! The following list of WW2 fiction for teens is listed in alphabetical order by author and includes links to outside reviews when possible.

A Place to Hang the Moon, by Kate Albus

Heartwarming sibling story of found-family set during the air raids in Britain.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Bradley 

Historical fiction telling the story of a young, abused girl finding healing, hope, and family. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two, Joseph Bruchac

Having recently been introduced to the fiction work of Joseph Bruchac, I’m eager to add this book to our collection. Bruchac is well-known for his books celebrating the lives and accomplishments of indigenous people.

Goodreads | Amazon

House of Sixty Fathers, Meindert DeJong 

Based on a true story of a Chinese boy and a group of American airmen.

Goodreads | Amazon

best World War 2 books for teens

84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff 

If you’re only familiar with the movie version of this story, you’re in for a treat. Perfect for book lovers, this work of autobiographical fiction gives a peek into the post-war years through the letters of a pair of book-lovers.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

A Father’s Promise, Donna Hess 

This was a book I re-read many times as a homeschooled tween and teen! It tells the coming of age story of a young, half-Jewish boy in Poland. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis by Susan Hood with Greg Dawson

This newly published book came to my notice on the recommendation of Janie B. Cheaney. Most of the story is told in verse. Like many quality middle grade works of fiction, still worthwhile reading for teens!

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr 

Based on the author’s personal experience, this tells the story of a Jewish family and their escape from Germany. It is the first book in a series.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Resistance, Jennifer Nielsen 

This story of the Holocaust focuses on the Jewish ghettos of Poland. This YA book is best for high schoolers.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

The Chosen, Chaim Potok 

This book is set in the 1940s against the backdrop of WW2, but it focuses on the coming-of-age tale of  2 Jewish boys growing up in Brooklyn.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Shadow on the Mountain (A novel inspired by the true adventures of a wartime spy), Margi Preus

Historical fiction based on the true story of Norwegian Erling Storrusten and his adventures in the Norwegian resistance movement.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Echo, Pam Munoz Ryan

We loved this story on audiobook! I highly recommend enjoying it via audio, since the themes of music are interwoven throughout the text. Middle grade fiction, but sure to delight teens as well.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Maus, Art Spiegelman 

This book shares the author’s family’s brutal personal experiences with the Holocaust, but in a fictionalized format (the characters are depicted as animals, for example). It is a mix of genres: memoir, history, fiction, and more.This Pulitzer Prize winner is worth reading and discussing with your teens.  

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein

A tale of friendship and sacrifice, the darker themes of this book make it more suitable for high school than middle school.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

After the Train, Gloria Whelan 

Set in the 1950s in West Germany, a young boy learns the truth about Germany’s past, and his own. Middle grade fiction, but worth teens reading as well.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

The Devil’s Arithmetic, Jane Yolen

Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, this story describes the experience of Hannah, who is transported from her family’s Seder dinner to the past.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak 

Death himself narrates this powerful story set in Germany. Probably best for high schoolers.

Goodreads | Amazon | Redeemed Reader

Note: many WW2 book lists also recommend The Boy in the Striped Pajamas for teens, but after reading this review I decided not to include it in our homeschool book stack.

WW2 For Teens: MORE Resources For Your Homeschool Study

What are your favorite WW2 era books, films, or documentaries for homeschooling teens

I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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5 thoughts on “World War 2 Booklist for Middle School and High School”

  1. Hello! Maus is a nonfiction graphic novel, not fiction. It’s absolutely incredible, and it’s a true story, not fiction.

    1. It is incredible, you’re right. I also include it on my nonfiction graphic novel list.

      For anyone reading these comments who isn’t familiar with the title, here is what I said about Maus there:
      “This book shares the author’s family’s personal experiences with the Holocaust, but in a fictionalized format (the characters are depicted as animals, for example). It is not a children’s book. It is a mix of genres: memoir, history, fiction, and more. That content warning being given, this Pulitzer Prize winner is worth reading and discussing with your teens.”

    1. Thank you! Unfortunately, I do not have a WW1 book list published yet. Albert Marrin has at least 1 book about WW1, though, that I know off the top of my hand is good. 🙂

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