CurriConnects Book List - Real Life in Wartime


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Real Life in Wartime
What was it like for ordinary people to live during wartime? This collection of books shares how real people experienced the conflicts of the 20th century: two World Wars, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and smaller conflicts/crises. Explore the human experience of civilian life during wartime, through the eyes of those who lived it. This list can help students add a layer of human reality to the "facts" they study about wars that to them seem "long ago and far way." Go beyond the textbook by encouraging students to choose a book to make connections. Encourage them to share what they learn through writings, fictitious blog posts, or creative presentations using tools from the TeachersFirst Edge.

Preschool and Picture Books

The Wall - Eve Bunting, (978-0395629772), Fiction
Interest level: 1-4, Lexile: 270
A father brings his son to Washington, D.C. to find the boy's grandfather's name on the Vietnam Memorial Monument.

Early Elementary Books

Halmoni's Day - Edna Bercaw, (978-0803724440), Fiction
Interest level: K-3, Lexile: 650
Memories of the Korean War come into the family's minds as Halmoni's grandmother comes to visit them from Korea.

Across the Blue Pacific - Louise Borden, (978-0618339228), Fiction
Interest level: K-5, Lexile: 840
An older woman remembers the letter writing campaign some fourth graders held to help a neighbor face being away during WWII.

Fly, Cher Ami, Fly! - Robert Burleigh, (978-0810970977), Fiction
Interest level: K-4, Lexile: 450
A wounded carrier pigeon heroically saves an entire American company lost in France during WWI.

Year of the Jungle - Suzanne Collins, (978-0545425162), Fiction
Interest level: K-12, Lexile: 450
Suzy gets nervous about her father not returning from Vietnam when his postcards stop coming in this picture book.

Year of the Jungle - Suzanne Collins, (978-0545425162), Fiction
Interest level: K-12, Lexile: 450
Suzy is troubled when her soldier father's postcards from Vietnam do not come anymore.

A Bear in War - Harry Endrulat, (978-1554700974), Fiction
Interest level: 1-3
By looking at old letters from WWI, a granddaughter discovers how her relative sent a stuffed bear to the battlefield with her grandfather; although the grandfather was killed, the bear and the letters and their subsequent story remain.

The Donkey of Gallipoli - Mark Greenwood, (978-0763639136), Non-fiction
Interest level: 1-4
A WWI stretcher bearer from Australia stumbles upon the help of a valiant donkey who assists with rescue and carrying of the wounded.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow - Amy Lee-Tai, (978-0892392155), Fiction
Interest level: K-2, Lexile: 790
Mari's art teacher in the Japanese interment camp where she and her family have been forced to live helps bring hope and meaning to her interrupted life.

Christmas in the Trenches - John McCutcheon, (978-1561453740), Fiction
Interest level: 1-6, Lexile: 520
Grandpa shares the story of his experience in Europe of a Christmas truce, in which the German soldiers and the American soldiers stopped fighting, sang Silent Night/ Stille Nacht and exchanged small tokens and good wishes; the next day, the battles began again.

Patrol - Walter Dean Myers, (978-0060731595), Fiction
Interest level: 2-3, Lexile: 280
This poetic take written from the point of view of a soldier in Vietnam reveals his acute observations and his fear.

A Place to Grow - Soyung Pak, (978-0439130158), Fiction
Interest level: K-3, Lexile: 500
A Korean family's resettlement in the U.S. after the father's experience with "too many guns" during the war shows resilience and hope.

My Freedom Trip - Frances Park, (978-1563974687), Fiction
Interest level: 1-2, Lexile: 510
A young Korean girl's escape from North Korea follows events that happened to the author's mother during the Korean War.

Going Home, Coming Home - Truong Tran, (978-0892392384), Fiction
Interest level: K-3
A young girl returns to her parents' home in Vietnam after the war to find out about her grandmother.

Coming on Home Soon - Jacqueline Woodson, (978-0399237485), Fiction
Interest level: K-3, Lexile: 550
Ada Ruth has to live with her grandmother after her mother gets a job away from home during WWII.

Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

World War I - Simon Adams, (978-0756630072), Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-7
This easy-to-read book presents facts about World War I.

Don't You Know There's a War On? - Avi, (978-0380815449), Fiction
Interest level: 4-8
Two boys with father fighting overseas during WWII plot to save a teacher whose job is in peril.

Peacebound Trains - Haemi Balgassi, (978-0618040308), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6, Lexile: 620
Sumi's grandmother shares memories of the escape she made from Korea before the Korean war started.

Silent in an Evil Time: The Brave War of Edith Cavell - Jack Batten, (978-0887767371), Non-fiction
Interest level: 5-9, Lexile: 1070
Edith Cavell's life and contributions to the World War I war effort described in this book reveal an unusually intelligence and determined woman.

War's End - Victoria Bowen, (978-1741663662), Fiction
Interest level: 3-4
Nell's family has a lot of adjusting to do and new hopes to set when their father returns from war during the Great War.

All the Broken Pieces - Ann Burg, (978-0545080934), Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 680
Despite having found a new family that loves him in the U.S., a Vietnamese orphan continues to suffer effects of the war.

Korean War Memorial - J.S. Burrows, (978-1606944264), Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-6
This children's book provides basic information about Americans killed in the Korean war and describes the war memorial.

Year of Impossible Goodbyes - Sook Nyul Choi, (978-0440407591), Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 840
A young North Korean girl escapes to South Korea after having lived through the Japanese and Soviet occupations of her country.

Rosie the Riveter - Penny Colman, (978-0517885673), Non-fiction
Interest level: 5-10, Lexile: 1060
The roles women played while men were away fighting during WWII had a lasting impact on women in the work force.

A Boy in War - Jan De Groot, (978-1550391671), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6, Lexile: 820
A young boy's family suffers during the Nazi occupation of their country, the Netherlands.

The Letter Home - Timothy Decker, (978-1932425505), Fiction
Interest level: K-12, Lexile: 550
A WWI medic assisting troops in Europe describes his experiences in a letter home to his son.

Shooting the Moon - Frances O'Roark Dowell, (141-6926909), Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 890
Although Jamie's brother grew up expecting to serve in Vietnam, the reality of his life there makes Jamie question her military family's point of view.

Lily's Crossing - Patricia Reilly Giff, (978-0440414537), Fiction
Interest level: 2-8, Lexile: 720
Lily meets a Hungarian refugee during her summer vacation at the beach during WWII, and she begins to view the world war and her own life in a different way.

Where Poppies Grow: A WWI Companion - Linda Granfield, (978-1550051469), Non-fiction
Interest level: 5-9
This book tells the story of WWI with artifacts, through the eyes of the people who fought and supported the war effort.

Homefront - Doris Gwaltney, (978-1416995722), Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 680
Margaret Ann's cousin escapes the bombing of London during WWII, but she takes Margaret's room in Virginia and the focus of the American family.

Aleutian Sparrow - Karen Hesse, (978-1416903277), Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-9
This history of the Aleut people who were attacked by the Japanese during WWII tells how the Aleuts were remanded to relocation centers during the war.

1970's : Arguments - Dorothy Hoobler, (978-0761316077), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6
Arguments in the Vivante family, who live on a commune, always seem to center around the conflict in Vietnam.

Jungle Scout - Tim Hoppey, (978-1434208460), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6, Lexile: 480
Vietnamese teen Lam Hung guides the U.S. troops across mine fields successfully, but he has to work hard to ensure their trust.

Blue - Joyce Moyer Hostetter, (978-1590788356), Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 780
Teen Ann must be the head of the household during WWII, after a personal tragedy, and during the polio epidemic in the 40's.

The Night Flyers - Elizabeth McDavid Jones, (978-1562477592), Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 710
Pam tries to help out with the family pigeons while her father is a soldier in WWI, but she begins to be suspicious of a nearby stranger.

Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam - Cynthia Kadohata, (978-1416906384), Fiction
Interest level: 3-8, Lexile: 730
An American soldier fighting in Vietnam grows to love his assistant in finding unexploded bomb, his dog.

Greetings from Planet Earth - Barbara Kerley, (978-0439802048), Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 620
As Theo works on research for a science project, questions come up about why his mother has kept his father's disappearance in Vietnam during the war there secret.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - Judith Kerr, (978-0142414088), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6
Anna resents being forced to leave behind all her beloved things after her father escapes from Germany during the Jewish persecution of WWII.

No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War - Anita Lobel, (978-0061565892), Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-6, Lexile: 750
Author Anita Lobel describes her life as a Jew in a Polish ghetto and concentration camp during the war and, afterwards, in Sweden.

Number the Stars - Lois Lowry, (978-0547577098), Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 670
Annemarie helps hide her Jewish friend while German occupies Denmark.

A Boy at War - Harry Mazer, (978-0689841606), Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 530
Adam struggles to find his father after the attack on Pearl Harbor; Adam was fishing nearby and his father was on the Arizona at the time of the bombing.

Korean War - Tom McGowen, (978-0531156551), Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-9
This book details the events of the Korean War and its resultant partition of the country into North and South.

Rilla of Ingleside - L.M. Montgomery, (978-0553269222), Fiction
Interest level: 4-10, Lexile: 1030
One of Anne Shirley's children (Anne of Green Gables) finds her idyllic life interrupted and forever changed by WWI.

Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting - Jim Murphy, (978-0545130493), Non-fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 1160
Author Murphy provides a fascinating account of a true story- the day enemies stopped fighting during WWI and celebrated Christmas together.

When My Name Was Keoko - Linda Sue Park, (978-0547722399), Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 610
A Korean brother and sister struggle to maintain their pride, identity, and self-respect while Japan occupies their country.

On the Wings of Heroes - Richard Peck, (978-0142412046), Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 730
A young Illinois boy recalls his war heroes, his brother who had been in the Air Force, and his father, who fought in WWI.

Yellow Star - Jennifer Roy, (978-0761452775), Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 710
Retold by a relative, this book tells the story of a very young girl who spends her childhood in a Polish ghetto controlled by the ruthless Nazis.

The Singing Tre - Kate Seredy, (978-0140345438), Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 770
WWI interrupts Kate and Jancsi's idyllic existence in a small Hungarian village.

Letters from Wolfie - Patti Sherlock, (978-0142403587), Fiction
Interest level: 3-12, Lexile: 760
Mark is almost sure he is right in donating his dog Wolfie to help in the Vietnam conflict, but he is not sure if Wolfie will return to him.

Blood Brotherhood - M. Zachary Sherman, (978-1434225597), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6, Lexile: 800
A Marine captain faces a ranking Korean officer in a standoff for survival.

Bloodlines - M. Zachary Sherman, (978-1434238771), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6
The head of a field hospital in Vietnam finds herself overcome with grief and fear when a patient turns up that she is acquainted with.

Damage Control - M. Zachary Sherman, (978-1434237651), Fiction
Interest level: 4-6
An Army corporal and his men must fix a jeep that was damaged in a crash behind North Korean lines.

War and Watermelon - Rich Wallace, (978-0142421383), Fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 630
12-year-old Brade watches his father and brother as his brother's protest of the Vietnam war causes the father to become upset.

Countdown - Deborah Wiles, (978-0545106054), Fiction
Interest level: 3-7, Lexile: 800
Franny finds the week of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to add portent and changing perspectives to her young life.

Archie's War - Marcia Williams, (978-0763635329), Fiction
Interest level: 3-7
Archie's take on the Great War becomes evident through browsing through the scrap book he keeps starting in 1914.

My Secret War Diary - Marcia Williams, (978-0763641115), Fiction
Interest level: 3-6
Flossie keeps her own private war diary from 1939 until the end of the war, revealing her responsibilities at home and her thoughts about her father fighting.

Oliver's Wars - Budge Wilson, (978-0773674165), Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 650
Oliver's new classmates do nothing to ease the pain of having to live with his grandparents while his dad fights in the Gulf War.

Bat 6 - Virginia Euwer Wolff, (978-0590898003), Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 930
Told from the multiple perspectives of all the team members of two softball teams during WWII, this book reveals the racial prejudice of small town Oregon against the Japanese who were interred nearby.

Middle School to Young Adult Books

Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood - Benjamin Alire Saenz, (978-1933693996), Fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 390
In this high-interest, low-reading-level book, Sammy's life in the barrio in Hollywood, New Mexico includes many stress factors including being a Chicano, facing the Vietnam War, and living among violence and poverty.

The Fire Eaters - David Almond, (978-0385731706), Fiction
Interest level: 2-12, Lexile: 520
English schoolboy Bobby Burns suffers bullying from peers and the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis but relies on family and friends for hope.

Tae's Sonata - Haemi Balgassi, (978-0618059805), Fiction
Interest level: 8-12
Tae's adjustment to life in the U.S. brings back memories of her life in Korea.

The Nazi Hunters - Neal Bascomb, (978-0545430999), Non-fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 1000
After WWII, a group of Israelis went on a thrilling hunt for Nazis responsible for the Holocaust in this true account.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyne, (978-0385751537), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 1080
The son of a Nazi who lives near a concentration camp during WWII befriends a young Jewish boy wh w is imprisoned.

Hold the Oxo - Marion Fargey Brooker, (978-1554888702), Fiction
Interest level: 8-12
A very young teen soldier describes his WWI experience in letters he writes home.

Echoes of the White Giraffe - Sook Nyul Choi, (978-0618809172), Fiction
Interest level: 7-12
A Korean girl, along with her family, returns to their war ridden home in North Korea after adjusting to life as a refugee in the south.

Gathering of Pearls - Sook Nyul Choi, (978-0618809189), Fiction
Interest level: 7-12
Sookan tries to adapt to a new culture and new language, but homesickness for Korea and echoes of the recent war distract her.

The FitzOsbornes at War - Michelle Cooper, (978-0307930583), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12
Sophie and her family rely on each other during the second world war.

Summer's End - Audrey Couloumbis, (978-0142407837), Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 720
Having brothers fighting in Vietnam and an uncle missing there adds stress to four generations who gather at the family farm in 1965.

Children of the River - Linda Crew, (978-0440210221), Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 700
Sundara, a Cambodian refugee resettled in the U.S., experiences conflicts with her parents since theywould have plannned to match her in an arranged marriage, but she has found an American boyfriend.

Mare's War - Tanita Davis, (978-0375850776), Fiction
Interest level: 7-9, Lexile: 830
Octavia and Tali learn about their grandmother's service in the Women's Army Corps during WWII as they take a car trip together.

Frightful First World War: And Woeful Second World War - Terry Deary, (978-1407109077), Non-fiction
Interest level: 6-12
Readers learn about all the bad things, horrors, deprivations, and hardships of WWI.

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank, (978-0553296983), Non-fiction
Interest level: 7-12
Anne Frank's diary remained in the rooms where she was hiding, and it has become a classic in literature about children and war despite the fact that she herself died in Auschwitz.

The War to End All Wars - Russell Freedman, (978-0547026862), Non-fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 1220
The author presents a compelling portrait of many factors about WWI that caused people to believe it would be the last war.

Silver Like Dust - Kimi Cunningham Grant, (978-1605984148), Non-fiction
Interest level: 9-12
The author only gradually heard about her Japanese grandmother's internment during WWII in a camp after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Without Warning: Ellen's Story - Dennis Hamley, (763-633380), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 710
A young British girl becomes a nurse after experiencing the ravages of war at home.

Forgotten No More: The Korean War Veterans Memorial Story - Carol Highsmith, (978-0962087738), Non-fiction
Interest level: 7-12
This illustrated book describes the history of the erection of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Search and Destroy - Dean Hughes, (978-1416953715), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 740
Rick enlists as a soldier to go to Vietnam after high school to get away from his unhappy home, but he faces terrors and confusion in Vietnam.

Children of Manzanar - Heather Lindquist, (978-1597141604), Non-fiction
Interest level: 9-12
This photographic essay shows the lives of the Japanese children who lived at Manzanar during the Japanese internment in WWII.

After the War - Carol Matas, (978-0689807220), Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 840
A young teen leads other youthful Jewish refugees to Palestine from their prison camp in Europe.

Purple Heart - Patricia McCormick, (978-0061730900), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 760
After a brain injury during the Iraq War, Matt has difficulty the events that led up to his accident.

Charlie Wilcox - Sharon McKay, (978-0143014706), Fiction
Interest level: 8-12
Charlie thinks he is pursuing his dream, to go to sea, but he realizes too late he is on his way to France during WWI, although he is not old enough to be a real soldier.

Private Peaceful - Michael Morpurgo, (978-0439636537), Fiction
Interest level: 7-12
Thomas, a young boy, stands watch during WWI although he is too young to fight; a surprise ending rivets readers and has them question the happenings of war.

Fallen Angels - Walter Dean Myers, (978-0545055765), Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 650
Richie finds the conflict in Vietnam tough to deal with after he enlists and spends a year fighting there.

Fallen Angels - Walter Dean Myers, (978-0545055765), Fiction
Interest level: 7-12, Lexile: 650
A recent high school graduate finds his enlistment in the Army to fight in Vietnam devastating.

After the Dancing Days - Margaret Rostkowski, (978-0673801500), Fiction
Interest level: 6-9
Annie ponders many things after her uncle dies in WWI and she befriends wounded soldiers.

My Brother's Shadow - Monika Schroder, (978-0374351229), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12
Tensions rise in a German family during WWI as one brother returns from fighting while the mother and sister remains socialists and another brother continues to write for the newspaper.

For What It's Worth - Janet Tashjian, (978-0805093650), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 920
Quinn's overwhelming interest in rock music in the 70's in hip California enlarges to learning an alternative point of view about the glories of the war in Vietnam.

The Invisible Thread - Yoshiko Uchida, (978-0671741631), Non-fiction
Interest level: 9-12
The accomplished writer Yoshiko Uchida relates her own personal experience living at Manzanar.

Tree by Leaf - Cynthia Voigt, (978-0689314032), Fiction
Interest level: 7-10, Lexile: 870
Clothilde has difficulty dealing with her father's disfiguring injuries suffered as a result of WWI and her mother's plan to sell the daughter's land to help pay for the father's care and household expenses.

Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnamese Orphan Became an American Boy - Andrea Warren, (978-0374400231), Non-fiction
Interest level: 4-12, Lexile: 930
An Amerasian escapes from Vietnam on Operation Babylift and adjusts to American life with his new family in the U.S.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak, (978-0375831003), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 730
Liesel steals books and tells stories to keep a semblance of normal life during WWII when her family is hiding a Jewish man.

Books for Mature Teens and Adults

Lizzie's War - Tim Farrington, (006-083448X), Fiction
Interest level: 10-12
Lizzie has too much on her plate, from her four children, to her husband being in Vietnam, to her pregnancy, and to dealing with priests and veterans at home.