Each year, the ELA teacher that I co-teach with and I teach a unit on the Holocaust. In this article you will find leveled novels on the Holocaust that we use. This is an amazing unit that she developed long before working with me and I am just fortunate to be a part of it. This unit includes teaching them background knowledge, they explore situations where they have to decide what they would do, and they read a book on the Holocaust and participate in book club discussions.
One of the many reasons that I love this unit is because of the multitude of books there are to choose from. We can carefully select groups of students and assign them to a book that is in their reading level. Giving them this opportunity to read something custom picked for them means that the students are not struggling with reading the book and it allows them to focus on the story, not their struggle. Most students become very engaged in this unit. Here are leveled novels on the Holocaust for teaching middle school.
Lexile Measure: 670 | Guided Reading Level: U | DRA Level: 50 | 144 pages
For leveled novels on the Holocaust for middle school, this is an easier book. I use this book for my lower readers, it is easier for them to read but still has an engaging story about a young girl named Annmarie whose family takes in her best friend who is Jewish during a time when that was dangerous.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Lexile Measure: 1000 | Guided Reading Level: Z | DRA Level: 70 | 240 pages
This story is slightly longer and slightly more difficult than Number the Stars, but it is still one that I use for my struggling readers. This story focuses on a male protagonist, Bruno, whose father is in the SS and lives on the grounds of a concentration camp. Bruno develops a friendship with a boy from the other side of the fence, and it has unexpected consequences.
Night by Elie Wiesel
Lexile Measure: 570 | Guided Reading Level: Z | DRA Level: 70 | 144 pages
I use this book for my average – low average readers. Night is a compelling story about the author’s true story about his experience in a concentration camp after being brought there with his family. Elie is quickly separated from his mother and his sister but he and his father fight to survive and stay together. The fact that this is non-fiction is extremely engaging and the students want to learn more about his life.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Lexile Measure: 1080L | Guided Reading Level: Y | DRA Level: 60 | 283 pages
This story is also a true story. If possible, I give it to a group that is all female as they relate most closely to Anne Frank. This story is the story of Anne Frank, Anne is a young girl who is forced to flee her home. She and her family have to hide for over two years to stay alive. This story also has a movie that we show to the students at the end of the unit on the Holocaust.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Lexile Measure: 730 | Guided Reading Level: Z+ | DRA Level: N/A | 576 pages
Because of the length of this book, I save it for some higher readers who enjoy reading. It requires them to read more pages each week to finish in the same time frame. This story is about a young girl whose foster father teaches her to read and to love reading. He does this using stolen books in secret during the bombing raids.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Lexile Measure: N/A | Guided Reading Level: N/A | DRA Level: N/A | 608 pages
For a few important reasons, this is a book that we do not use every year. But, this book includes some adult topics that require parental permission and mature readers. It is also the longest book on this list. But if you have that right group of mature readers, and parents who allow them to, this book is phenomenal. This book tells the story of two sisters who are in very different predicaments during World War II. One sister is fighting alongside the resistance and risking her life to help the cause. The other sister has children and a husband who is off fighting the war. She ends up having German officers demand that she house them.
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