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Tween

Excellent Next Reads for Fans of White Bird by R.J. Palacio

by Dena McMurdie

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R.J. Palacio’s novel Wonder captured readers’ hearts and started a worldwide movement promoting kindness. White Bird explores the same theme in a different setting. The story follows Sara, a Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied France, and the family that risked everything to save her. It’s about showing kindness and finding friendship in a time when fear governed society.

First published as a graphic novel, it has since been adapted into a traditional book and a major motion picture. This heart-wrenching and hope-filled story joins Wonder as a modern classic.

Whether you’re interested in reading more stories about World War II, the Holocaust, or strong characters coming of age in a brutal world, these books are excellent read-alikes.

  • What Was the Holocaust?

    by Gail Herman and Who HQ, illustrated by Jerry Hoare

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    Learning what the Holocaust was is essential for young readers to understand the context of White Bird. This book is an excellent place to start. Comprised of easy-to-read text, illustrations, and facts, it gives kids an age-appropriate overview of Hitler’s rise to power and how his radical ideas caused a horrific genocide.

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  • DK Life Stories: Anne Frank

    by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Charlotte Ager

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    Anne Frank’s diary changed how people saw the Holocaust and Jewish people’s experiences during World War II. This informative book introduces young readers to the influential teenage writer and the years she spent in hiding with her family. Photos, illustrations, facts, and quotes from her diary bring her story to life for a new generation of readers.

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  • Hanna’s Suitcase

    by Karen Levine

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    Young readers who enjoy solving mysteries will love this true story about a museum curator in Tokyo who receives a mysterious suitcase labeled with a name and date. Readers follow the curator as she collects clues and pieces together Hana’s story.

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  • The Bluest Sky

    by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

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    This story about a young boy fleeing communist Cuba with his family is a must-read for White Bird fans. In it, the Cuban government promises to allow people to leave the country. Given this rare opportunity to escape Cuba for the United States, Héctor’s mother wants to take it. That decision comes with mixed feelings about leaving the only home he’s known, terrifying danger, and hope for a better life in America.

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  • We Were the Fire

    by Shelia P. Moses

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    Set during the 1963 civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, this story shows young readers that they have the power to speak up and make a difference. It’s about a boy named Rufus who joins his friends in a peaceful protest against segregation. Even though they face opposition, the children refuse to be silenced.

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  • Agent Most Wanted

    by Sonia Purnell

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    Spies were essential to the allies’ plan to end World War II. This is the true story of Virginia Hall, an American spy with a prosthetic leg and a talent for collecting information. She worked in France during the war, inspiring resistance and relaying the intel she gathered.

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  • Blue Birds

    by Caroline Starr Rose

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    Like White Bird, Blue Birds is a story about two young people from opposing cultures who form a strong bond. Alis immigrated to the New World with her family, but their hopes for a better life shatter when the English settlers clash with the indigenous Roanoke tribe. Despite that, Alis and Kimi risk everything for their newfound friendship.

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  • Killers of the Flower Moon: Adapted for Young Readers

    by David Grann

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    This young reader adaptation of the adult book by the same name is another example of how prejudice and fear have devastating effects. When the Osage Nation finds oil on their land, they quickly become wealthy — and the targets of jealousy and murder. As more and more Osage people get killed, the FBI goes undercover to investigate and uncovers a terrible conspiracy.

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  • The Thing I’m Most Afraid Of

    by Kristin Levine

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    Becca deals with severe anxiety, but spending the summer in Vienna brings new friends, beautiful sights, and plenty of adventure. When danger threatens her new friends, Becca must decide whether to give in to her fears or face them head-on. Readers who loved White Bird will enjoy this heartfelt story about the effects of war, prejudice, and genocide.

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  • In a Flash

    by Donna Jo Napoli

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    When you think of World War II, you probably think of Europe, Hitler, and the Holocaust. But this book tackles another side of the war — Japan. Simona and Carolina are Italians living in Japan with their Papà when World War II breaks out. Now seen as the enemy, the girls get separated from Papà and sent to an internment camp. With themes of survival, courage, and family, this book is a fantastic next-read after White Bird.

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