World-War Stories for kids, teens and young adults

In this list of well crafted and enduring stories of war, you will find age-appropriate recommendations that support school curriculum work. For the older readers, the books in this selection are a reminder to how war affects not only those on the battlefront and are relevant today considering the thousands of children and adults who have become refugees in recent years.

  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes – Age group 10-14 years.

A gripping and moving novel by one of the world’s best-loved writers for children. From much-loved author, Shirley Hughes comes a thrilling World War II novel for children aged 10 and up. It is 1944 and Florence, Italy, is occupied by Nazi German forces. The Italian resistance movement has not given up hope, though – and neither have Paolo and his sister, Constanza. Both are desperate to fight the occupation, but what can two siblings do against a whole army with only a bicycle to help them? In extraordinary circumstances, people are capable of extraordinary things.

 

 

 

  • Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden – Age group 9-11 years.

It is wartime and Carrie and her little brother Nick have been evacuated from their London home to the Welsh hills. In an unfamiliar place, among strangers, the children feel alone and find little comfort with the family they are billeted with: Mr Evans, a bullying shopkeeper and Auntie Lou, his kind but timid sister.

When Carrie and Nick visit Albert, another evacuee, they are welcomed into Hepzibah Green’s warm kitchen. Hepzibah is rumoured to be a witch, but her cooking is delicious, her stories are enthralling and the children cannot keep away. With Albert, Hepzibah and Mister Johnny, they begin to settle into their new surroundings. But before long, their loyalties are tested: will they be persuaded to betray their new friends?

  

  • Friend or Foe by Michael Morpurgo.  Age group 8-10 years.

Friend or Foe by [Morpurgo, Michael]Friend or Foe is a gripping World War 2 story from Britain’s best-loved children’s author, Michael Morpurgo.

Evacuated from London, David and Tucky feel like the war is a long way away from their new life in the countryside. Then one night the skyline of the moor is lit up with gun flashes, and the distant crump of bombing miles away brings the war back to them and shatters their new-found peace. When a German bomber crashes, the boys feel they should hate the airmen inside. But one of them saves David’s life.

  

  • Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Young Willie Beech is evacuated to the country as Britain stands on the brink of the Second World War. A sad, deprived child, he slowly begins to flourish under the care of old Tom Oakley – but his new-found happiness is shattered by a summons from his mother back in London.

Winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award.

“An engrossing and poignant story, with much sunlight to balance the darkness.” — “The New Yorker.

  

  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Age group 12+.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Vintage Children's Classics) by [Boyne, John]‘Some things are just sitting there, minding their own business, waiting to be discovered. Like America. And other things are probably better off left alone’

Nine-year-old Bruno has a lot of things on his mind. Who is the ‘Fury’? Why did he make them leave their nice home in Berlin to go to ‘Out-With’ ? And who are all the sad people in striped pyjamas on the other side of the fence? The grown-ups won’t explain so Bruno decides there is only one thing for it – he will have to explore this place alone. What he discovers is a new friend. A boy with the very same birthday. A boy in striped pyjamas. But why can’t they ever play together?

  

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Age group 13+

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meagre existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbours during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

  


Get your hands on these unforgettable stories by much-loved authors. Books available now.               See you soon at Chapters!


If you like this list you might also like the following books which can be purchased on Amazon.  Thank you for shopping by clicking our Amazon links because it helps us to earn a commission from Amazon. It is only a small reward for the time we spent compiling this list and will cost you nothing extra.  

  • A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian – Age group – Older Teens

A classic young love story set in the middle of World War II

It is the summer of 1943, and war continues to rage. For Rose and her sister Diana, it’s a time of independence and self-discovery as they find first loves.  But when Rose uncovers an extraordinary love story from another war, she is forced to question that love.  Rose is about to discover a secret that will change everything. Michelle Magorian combines her rich style with a refreshing take on wartime women in this classic coming of age story.

True Stories of war

  • Voices from the second world war – Witnesses share their stories with the children of today.  Publishes in association with the award-winning children’s newspaper First News and The Silver Line. 

A powerful, moving collection of first-person accounts of the Second World War. Contributors include a rear gunner who took part in sixty bombing raids, a Jewish woman who played in the orchestra at Auschwitz, a Japanese man who survived Hiroshima and Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 children by setting up the Kindertransport program from Czechoslovakia. Many of the interviews were conducted by children, and the book is being published in association with award-winning children’s newspaper First News.

Categories: Non-Fiction          For readers aged: 9+

The Diary of a young girl – Anne Frank

First published over sixty years ago, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl has reached millions of young people throughout the world.

In July 1942, thirteen-year-old Anne Frank and her family, fleeing the occupation, went into hiding in an Amsterdam warehouse. Over the next two years Anne vividly describes in her diary the frustrations of living in such close quarters, and her thoughts, feelings and longings as she grows up. Her diary ends abruptly when, in August 1944, they were all betrayed.

  

Stories of animals in war

In the deadly chaos of the First World War, one horse witnesses the reality of battle from both sides of the trenches. Bombarded by artillery, with bullets knocking riders from his back, Joey tells a powerful story of the truest friendships surviving in terrible times. One horse has the seen the best and the worst of humanity. The power of war and the beauty of peace. This is his story.

War Horse was adapted by Steven Spielberg as a major motion picture with Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The National Theatre production opened in 2007 and has enjoyed successful runs in the West End and on Broadway.

A great way of introducing young readers to the realities of WWI. Look out for Morpurgo’s other war fiction including Friend or FoeWaiting for AnyaKing of the Cloud and An Eagle in the Snow.

War Horse is a story of universal suffering for a universal audience by a writer who ‘has the happy knack of speaking to both child and adult readers’ (The Guardian).

   

You might be interested in this current bestseller.

Snippets of Wisdom from Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”

This #1 New York Times bestseller received so much praise from readers all over the world.

Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, ‘Wild’ powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

A true story that portrays Cheryl Strayed’s quest to make peace with herself and her daring adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail is guaranteed to change your life. Take a look at some of these beautiful quotes from the book.


“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”


“The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse to ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so. If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.”


“I was a terrible believer in things,but I was also a terrible nonbeliever in things. I was as searching as I was skeptical. I didn’t know where to put my faith, or if there was such a place, or even what the word faith meant, in all of it’s complexity. Everything seemed to be possibly potent and possibly fake.”


“[Books] were the world I could lose myself in when the one I was actually living in became too lonely or harsh or difficult to bear.”

― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

“But I wasn’t out here to keep myself from having to say I am not afraid. I’d come, I realized, to stare that fear down, to stare everything down, really—all that I’d done to myself and all that had been done to me.”

 

There is no doubting the fact that this wonderful memoir will be loved and treasured for generations to come. We hope you are as convinced as we are!

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail- Cheryl StrayedClick here to browse “Wild” on our Web store.                                                                                                              Get your copy while stocks last!

BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS: Novels That Celebrate the Power of Fiction

 

  • The End of your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe 

“We’re all in the end-of-your-life book-club, whether we acknowledge it or not; each book we read may well be the last, each conversation the final one.”

An inspirational memoir of a mother and son and the shared love for reading. “What are you reading?” is the question Will asks his mother, sitting in a hospital ward, days after finding out that she has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The pair engage in deeply personal and heart rending conversations over the two years that follow.

“Reading isn’t the opposite of doing, it’s the opposite of dying.”

Their mutual passion for reading and the books that they read become the heart of their dialogue. This moving and emotional novel thematically explores the powerful influence of books and the magical cure that fiction can bring in times of discomfort and uncertainty. Will and his mother talk about books that range from classics to mystery, poetry and spirituality. The End of Your Life Book Club is a profoundly  moving novel that is not necessarily depressing, despite the themes of anxiety, loss and death.


When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page. – Book Description



“Books are the most powerful tool in the human arsenal, that reading all kinds of books, in whatever format you choose – electronic (even though that wasn’t for her) or printed, or audio – is the grandest entertainment, and also is how you take part in human conversation.”

This book is much loved among our readers and is highly recommended for fans of realistic, contemporary and literary fiction.

‘A tender, moving and honest portrayal of the precious relationship between a mother and son- an ode to that beautiful thing called love.” – Cecilia Ahern

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  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This life-changing literary fiction novel by #1 Bestselling author Markus Zusak is bound to remain etched in our readers’ minds long after they read it. The Book Thief explores the life of Liesel Meminger and how far she goes to steal books to quench her passion for reading. She transforms the lives around her with the books she reads and is the ideal portrayal of courage and bravery during the dreadful times of the Holocaust.

Another feature that sets this book apart is that it is narrated by Death- the omnicient narrator who tells us the story of  the life of Liesel Meminger and her new found family.

“He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world.

She was the book thief without the words.

Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”


 

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. – Book Description

 

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  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

A delightful, bittersweet tale about the distance one man will travel for the sake of love and friendship.


 

The Little Paris Bookshop- Nina George Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. – Book Description

 


Yet another bestselling novel on the power of books. The Little Paris Bookshop shows the therapeutic influence of reading a good book. The novel also gives us a glimpse of French culture, people and literature as never observed before.

This is an ideal read for readers of any age- the perfect book to immerse yourself in, owing to its beautifully written narrative and memorable characters.

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  • What We See When We Read By  Peter Mendelsund 

A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the What We See When We Read By PETER MENDELSUNDphenomenology of reading—how we visualize images from reading works of literature.

What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? The collection of fragmented images on a page—a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so—and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved—or reviled—literary figures. In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf’s Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature—he considers himself first and foremost as a reader—into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading. – Book Description


 

Praise:

“A deconstruction of the visual experience of reading, a heady mixture of philosophy and neuropsychology. . . . Peter Mendelsund is astonishingly good at what he does.” —The Rumpus

“Amazing. . . . Sparkling with verbal as well as visual wit and the personable exhilaration of one of the best conversations you’ve ever had, What We See When We Read opens one’s eyes to that special brand of blindness which makes the vividness of fiction possible. It reads as if the ghost of Italo Calvino audited Vladimir Nabokov’s literature class and wrote his final paper with the help of Alvin Lustig and the Radiolab guys.” —Chris Ware, author of Building Stories

“Intriguing. . . . A truly remarkable book.” —Coolhunting.com
 
“A delightful treat for the avid reader. . . . [A] topsy-turvily illustrated marvel. . . . [Mendelsund] maps the dreamscape of reading to show us how the mirage dissolves under close scrutiny but its memory still burns brilliant. What a tangible magic books are!” —Shelf Awareness


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