Children on the move

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By Teresa Saunders — education writer, Monmouthshire

The power of the written word – both factual and fictional – will help children to see that the Second World War disrupted the lives of children not just in Britain but in many other countries too

As war clouds loomed over Britain, thousands of children were evacuated from the cities to the safety of the country. Willie Beech was one of those children. When the billeting officer turns up at Tom Oakley’s country cottage with a thin, pale boy covered in bruises, the old man agrees to take him in. Slowly, Tom helps Willie to overcome the problems, cruelty and deprivation of his home life in London.

Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian (Puffin, £5.99 PB) is a heart-warming story of the good that can come from the horror of war. (Fiction)

Between 1940 and 1945, the three Balicki children and their friend Jan walk hundreds of miles through war-torn Europe. They are among the many families being hunted down by the Nazis because they are Jewish. When their father is sent to prison and their mother is rounded up in the middle of the night and taken to a concentration camp in Germany, the children vow to try to reach Switzerland – and safety.

Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword (Red Fox, £4.99 PB) is the story of the children’s journey. (Fiction)

In 1933, the Frank family, (Otto, Edith and their two daughters, Margot and Anne) moved from their home in Germany to Amsterdam. The Franks were worried about the way Jewish people in Germany were being treated by the new Nazi party. Then Holland was invaded and the family had to go into hiding. They hid for two years but on 4 August 1944 they were discovered and sent to a concentration camp where Anne, Margot and their mother died. Anne kept a diary which tells their true story.

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