World War II Historical Fiction for Teens

World War II often inspires historical fiction at its finest and most raw. Most of these novels will make you cry, and many reflect the violence and horrors of the times they convey. All are powerful tales of a dark time.

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak
In World War II Munich, a girl steals to get by. She shares stolen books with her foster father, with her neighbors during bombing raids, and with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 1939 Nazi Germany. Ages 13 and up.

Salt to the Sea

by Ruta Sepetys
The greatest maritime disaster was not the Titanic, but the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner carrying wartime personnel and refugees to safety at the end of World War II. This tale follows four refugees through that dark night in 1945. Ages 13 and up.

Number the Stars

by Lois Lowry
As the Germans prepare to “relocate” the Jews of occupied Denmark in 1943, the Danish resistance organizes a mass evacuation, smuggling nearly 7,000 people across the sea to safety. Ten-year-old Annemarie helps to hide her best friend. Ages 10 and up.

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys
Fifteen-year-old Lina is an ordinary Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life, until Soviet officers force her and her family onto a train to the Siberian work camps. A side of World War II history not often explored. 1939 Lithuania. Ages 12 and up.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

by John Boyne
When Bruno’s father gets a promotion, the family moves to a new place surrounded by endless fences. He befriends a boy who lives on the other side of the fence, the boy in the striped pajamas. 1942 Berlin. Explores the horrors of the Holocaust from an unsuspecting angle. Ages 12 and up.

Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein
When a British spy plane crashes in German-occupied territory, the captured spy doesn’t have a chance. Her Gestapo interrogator offers a simple choice: Confess, or face the consequences. Her scribbled story is a tale of friendship, failure and hope from the spy code-named Verity. 1943 occupied France. Ages 15 and up.

Prisoner of Night and Fog

by Anne Blankman
Gretchen has been raised in the National Socialist Party, where her uncle Dolf keeps her protected. But when a Jewish reporter whispers tales of violence and murder, she’ll have to look beyond her sheltered life and discover the truth for herself. 1939 Germany. Ages 13 and up.

The Devil’s Arithmetic

by Jane Yolen
Hannah has heard the stories of Holocaust survivors before. This Passover, she finds herself transported back to a small village at the beginning of the war, to live the stories for herself. 1940s Poland. Ages 12 and up.

Gamers & Geeks – Books to Level Up

Calling all gamers and geeks! If you’ve ever wished you could live in your favorite video game or made friends you’ll never meet in person, these books are for you. Level up your reading with these eight books and graphic novels about gaming and game culture.

Ready Player One

by Ernest Cline
Required reading for gamers. In this dystopian, people live online in the Oasis. But control of this virtual refuge goes to whoever solves the hidden Easter egg hunt. Full of retro geek culture, video game references, and even a giant mech battle. If you haven’t heard of this yet, you will soon — the movie comes out March 2018, directed by Steven Spielberg! Ages 15 and up.

The Eye of Minds

by James Dashner
When a rogue gamer becomes a real-world menace, it’s up to three teens to track him down inside their favorite virtual reality game. This fast-paced series by the author of The Maze Runner is perfect for gamers looking for an action-packed read. Ages 13 and up.

In Real Life

by Cory Doctorow
Anda befriends a gold farmer, who illegally collects in-game artifacts to sell to gamers with money to burn, in her favorite massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). But questions of right and wrong aren’t easy to answer when you get to know the real people behind the issues. Graphic novel for ages 12 and up.

Epic

by Conor Kostick
Violence has been banned, and society vents its instincts in Epic, an MMORPG. If you win, you can go to college, get a job, or help your community. If you lose, you have nothing. Erik knows it isn’t fair, but if he’s going to bring it down, he needs to succeed in both worlds. To take on the system, he’ll have to be Epic. Ages 14 and up.

Sword Art Online

by Reki Kawahara
Sword Art Online promises the most realistic gaming experience yet. But when 6,000 gamers log in at launch, they discover a fatal flaw: no logout button. This popular series is available in both manga and fiction light novels, so enjoy the story however you prefer to read. Ages 15 and up.

Ender’s Game

by Orson Scott Card
Ender trains for war in the elite Battle Game, where only the best can beat the impossible simulations. Battle Game prepares them for the real war against an unknowable alien enemy. Ender is the smartest strategist yet, but he’ll have to learn to lead if they’re going to win the Battle Game. A science fiction classic. Ages 12 and up.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

by Fujino Omori
Most adventurers join the dungeon crawler Orario for fame and fortune. Not Bell. He’s here to meet girls. But when an adventure goes horribly wrong, he might be the one needing rescue. Read the book or find the DVD in our collection. Ages 15 and up.

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life

by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Scott Pilgrim spends his life drifting between band practice and his friends. Until Ramona Flowers skates into his life. To win a chance with the girl of his dreams, he’ll have to take down her seven evil ex-boyfriends, Street Fighter-style. Graphic novel, and a movie as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Ages 13 and up.

Diverse Reads: Main Characters of Color

Check out one of these great books the next time you’re at the library, all of which feature main characters of color.

The Summer Prince

by Alaya Dawn Johnson
In the lush Brazilian city of Palmares Tres, June is a vibrant up-and-coming artist. When the new Summer King is crowned, June, like the rest of the city, falls in love with him. But he also falls in love with her. As fate would have it in the realm, the Summer King is destined to die.

Tiny Pretty Things

by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
Welcome to the world of ballet dancers. With controlling mothers, debilitating diseases, and terrifying doses of perfectionism, three girls will manipulate, work and battle their way to the top spot at their academy.

See No Color

by Shannon Gibney
Alex always thought she would be a pro baseball player like her adoptive father. But when she discovers secrets about him, her adoptive parents, and her past, she questions her existence and fears that the one thing she’s always loved will be taken away from her.

Dear Martin

by Nic Stone
Justyce is a top student and captain of the debate team, but he’s had one too many run-ins with white cops. In the midst of his frustration, he dedicates himself to studying the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., writing a daily journal to the late MLK. He sets out to see if the lessons of the past hold up to the challenges of today.

All American Boys

by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
Two American boys. Two different lives. Rashad is violently arrested and classmate Quinn is a witness. The story of the incident consumes their lives in various ways. This is the story of two perspectives of the same racial incident, and whether these two young, all-American boys have more in common than they think.

The Sun Is Also a Star

by Nicola Yoon
Natasha is about to be deported. Daniel is about to disappoint his father. The two meet in New York City on the brink of the biggest changes in their lives. They debate whether it’s fate, love or something simpler. But the universe is rarely simple and it seems to want to complicate their young lives.

American Street

by Ibi Aanu Zoboi
Fabiola is moving to America from Haiti, but her mother is detained by U.S. immigration. She is left to navigate America with her loud cousins, learning a language and experiencing an unexpected romance. But Fabiola doesn’t know what she will sacrifice for this American dream.

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas
Starr is the only witness to her friend Khalil’s death. Her life is caught in a whirlwind, full of family drama and media pressure. She battles with herself, society, and her friends over the right thing to do. She wants to stand up for Khalil, but how much of her life will be disrupted in the process?

This Side of Home

by Renee Watson
Maya and Nikki have done everything together. It’s not a stretch, since they’re identical twins. But when the home around them starts to change, they start to change too. For the first time in their lives, they will have to decide whether to be together or be themselves.

Endangered

by Lamar Giles
Lauren is an anonymous photo-blogger, and the only thing that keeps her safe is the fact that no one knows her identity. She busts teachers and classmates alike, and has a secret admirer who sends her challenges. But when the challenges turn deadly, Lauren has to decide how far she’ll go to protect herself and her stories.
Share some of your recommendations with us in the comments below!

 

Diverse Reads: Differently Abled Diversity

Expand your reading horizons with these fantastic books that center around characters with disabilities.

Love and First Sight

by Josh Sundquist

Will starts his first day at a public high school, coming from a school for the blind. The adjustment isn’t easy, but when he meets some friends, including Cecily, things start to get better. As Will adjusts to his new life, he learns he qualifies for an experimental treatment that would return his eyesight. Will must decide between the life he has always known or the life he’s always wanted.

Differently Abled: Blindness

The Beginning of Everything

by Robyn Schneider

Ezra believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them. His is the result of a drunk, reckless driver who shattered his knee, his athletic careers, and his social life. But when new-girl Cassidy comes to town, his life becomes reminiscent of his old one, full of adventures and fun. But if everyone has a tragedy, what’s Cassidy’s?

Differently Abled: Physical Injury, Chronic Pain

Because You’ll Never Meet Me

by Leah Thomas

Ollie is allergic to electricity; any contact causes seizures. Moritz has a weak heart that only pumps thanks to an electric pacemaker. They can never meet, so they send letters instead, helping each other get through the ups and downs of high school.

Differently Abled: Epilepsy, Heart Defect

Run

by Kody Keplinger

Bo is wild and Agnes is cautious; these friends couldn’t be more different. They discover their friendship might be something more, so when Bo needs to skip town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to go with her. But a runaway road trip is more difficult than they thought when they must confront Agnes’s blindness, Bo’s past, and some deep secrets.

Differently Abled: Blindness

Deadline

by Chris Crutcher

Diagnosed with a deadly disease, high school senior Ben is told he only has one year to live. He decides to tell no one: not his brother, his parents, or his friends. He is determined to do something significant with his short life, but how can he do anything important in his small town? Enter Dallas, with secrets of her own, who is going to turn Ben’s life upside down.

Differently Abled: Cancer

Push Girl

by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love

Kara thought she had it all — kind parents, a hot boyfriend, and popularity — until it all unravels in one night. Her parents get into a marriage-ending fight, her boyfriend cheats on her, and she gets rejected at a party. In a fit of anger, Kara drives away and gets into a car accident, which leaves her paralyzed. Kara must adjust to her new life and discover who she is in the face of adversity.

Differently Abled: Physical Injury

Six of Crows

by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz is given the chance to be rich beyond his wildest dreams if he can pull off the heist of his life, but he needs a crew to help him out. So he recruits the six biggest misfits in the court. However, these dangerous thieves, liars and murderers have to work together, and try not to kill each other before the job is done.

Differently Abled: Physical Injury, Chronic Pain

The Fault in Our Stars

by John Green

Hazel has had cancer for most of her life. She’s been going to a support group, which is never exciting until Augustus shows up. As fellow cancer survivors, the two develop a friendship and a relationship that spans their potentially short lives.

Differently Abled: Cancer, Chronic Pain, Blindness, Amputee

Reign of Shadows

by Sophie Jordan

Luna has been locked in a tower since her family was murdered by rebels on the night of the eclipse. She is drawn to a mysterious archer, Fowler, who offers her something more than the town and her past. Together, they must survive the world of darkness even though falling in love may be the most dangerous trial yet.

Differently Abled: Blindness

Hold Me Like a Breath

by Tiffany Schmidt

As the daughter of one of three top crime families, Penelope knows the world is a dangerous place. But it’s even more dangerous for her because of her own autoimmune disorder, or so her parents say. Penelope craves independence and freedom and to prove she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks she is.

Differently Abled: Autoimmune Disorder

 

Have you read any great books with differently abled characters? Tell us what we missed in the comments below.

 

 

Win a Chance to Meet Author Sarah J. Maas!

Tickets to see Sarah J. Maas on Wednesday, September 13, at the Lone Tree Arts Center have sold out, but you still have a chance to get in and meet (and have a book personalized by) the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series. Here’s how!

Enter Our Instagram Contest for a Chance to Win!

#SJMatDCL Contest

Entering the contest is easy! Simply follow @dclcolorado on Instagram; share a photo on your own feed of a #bookstagram featuring one of Sarah’s  books; and then tag @dclcolorado in the post and use the hashtag #SJMatDCL.

Winner receives a free event ticket, including a signed hardcover copy of Tower of Dawn (her new book!), and a guaranteed meeting/photo op with the author herself.

Deadline for entries is Monday, August 28, at 6PM. If you win, you’ll also receive a print of your winning Instagram photo, signed by Sarah J. Maas and mounted for hanging. The winner will be announced Friday, September 1. You could be famous!