The Wonderful World Of Novels

Using WWII Fiction Books To Teach Your Class About The War

World War II was a complex and major historical event that still influences world events to this day. There are a variety of historical studies that can be used by teachers, but these books can be boring to their students. That's why historical fiction is such a great teaching choice.

Historical Fiction Is A Major Classroom Benefit

Historical fiction about World War II uses real events and difficult situations to teach readers about the horrors and lessons of the war. It does this in a way that presents the information in an easy-to-read and dramatic matter that helps draw the reader into the story. Even when the events have been fictionalized, most great historical fiction authors use facts and real events to boost their authenticity.

The best World War II novels are often written by people who were actually involved in the war. In this way, there is an even more realistic and hard-hitting portrayal. That said, there are many books being written now by those who did not experience it, and they are just as well-written.

Some Of The Best WWII Books Available

While there are likely dozens of books written about World War II, there are a handful of classics that every teacher needs to introduce to their classroom. The following are some of the most respected, admired, and well-read World War II books:

  • Catch-22 – Joseph Heller's masterpiece is a comedic and absurd look at the lives of pilots during the war and the ways that it affected their lives and their sanity.
  • Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut's most well-known book uses his real life experience suffering through the bombing of Dresden to examine the atrocities both sides committed.
  • The Naked and the Dead – Norman Mailer's epic novel is a deep exploration of the war from nearly every possible angle and remains one of the most-read books of the period.
  • Night – Elie Wiesel's more autobiographical novel takes a deep look into the horrors of the Nazi death camps and what people actually lived through in them on a daily basis.

These are just a sampling of the books available about the period. For a look at the Japanese theater, "Memoirs of a Geisha" is a good choice, as it takes a look at the waning days of Imperial Japan and how the war affected their traditional lifestyle.

Tips For Teaching With Historical Fiction

When trying to teach with historical fiction, it is important to follow a few basic guidelines. These will ensure that students understand the books being read and have a good grasp on the lessons they are teaching the reader:

  • Identify the student's reading level and choose a book appropriate for it
  • Read several chapters a week and discuss the events in the classroom
  • Compare the real events in the book to what happened historically
  • Let students discuss the harsher or more difficult to understand aspects
  • Discuss the meaning of the books and how they highlight difficult aspects of the war period

Don't limit teaching lessons to the books mentioned above, either. Many great World War II books are still being published, such as by Frances Patton Statham, many of which take unique angles on the subject. More contemporary books may even be easier for modern students to read and understand.


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