World War II for Kids

A History with 21 Activities
Book cover: 'World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities'
Richard Panchyk
Chicago Review Press
Number of pages: 
164 pages
Grade / Age level: 

This is a well-written and engaging account of the major events of World War II - military, political, humanitarian, etc. - treated at a level appropriate for children - particularly ages 10-14. The book is divided into seven major chapters - The World at War (which covers the history of World War I through the end of 1941), The Long Road Ahead (which highlights some of the vast geographical areas involved in the war), The Home Front and Life During the War, Hope Renewed (the progress in 1943), D-Day and Victory in Europe, When Every Day Seemed to be a Year Long (which covers the Holocaust) and Pacific Victory.

The tone of the entire book is pro-American and patriotic. I particularly enjoyed the author's nostalgic reflections on some of the more wholesome entertainers of the day - like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. First-hand accounts of various parts of life at that time are scattered throughout the book and cover an impressive array of nationalities. The 21 activities advertised in the title are very creative, but not overwhelming. Some of my favorites include: Decoding a Message, Rationing Game, and Make a Ration Kit (this is very detailed and fascinating).

This book would be particularly interesting for a family interested in delving deeper into World War II than the history textbooks do. It gives a great, but easy-to-use overview of the whole war chronologically (I learned a lot from reading it myself!). Combined with a dozen or so living history books, this could make a fun summer project or unit study for the entire family.

The author has done a fine balancing job in keeping the material appropriate for children without watering it down. However, there are a few areas that might be inappropriate for younger children - particularly the segment on the Holocaust.

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