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Jul 20

YA Reads: Pearl Harbor & WWII

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 4:18 PM by Elizabeth Land

Staff Note: Young Adult Reads is a series of posts reviewing items that are geared toward teens, but are of interest to all York County Public Library readers.

December 7th is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. This year is the 75th anniversary of that fateful day in 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and six other military bases on the island of Oahu. It is important to never forget the attacks, because as the 75th commemoration website notes, the attacks “thrust America into World War II, changing Hawaii and America forever and continues to define their place in the world."

The York County Library has plenty of books — both nonfiction and fiction — that can help readers learn more about Pearl Harbor and America's involvement in WWII.


Our nonfiction list includes titles for adults and teens that focus on the lead-up to the United States' official entrance into World War II.


For those who enjoy reading fiction that includes historical events or people, we have also created a list of books set during WWII. These suggestions are for readers who enjoy young adult historical fiction that focuses on different aspects of that time period, such as the Code Talkers, Allied spies, the Holocaust and persecution of the Jewish people, and military combat. 

  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne — Bored and lonely after his family moves from Berlin to a place called “Out-With” in 1942, Bruno , the son of a Nazi officer, befriends a boy in striped pajamas who lives behind a wire fence.
  • Invasion by Walter Dean MyersInvasion by Walter Dean Myers — Josiah Wedgewood and Marcus Perry are friends in Virginia, but now that they are both involved in the Normandy invasion, the differences in their positions is uncomfortable, for Josiah is a white infantryman and Marcus is a black transport driver, the only role the segregated army will allow him.
  • Code Talker: a novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac —After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.
  • Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse — In 1943 Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, teenage Hanneke—a ‘finder’ of black market goods—is tasked with finding a Jewish girl a customer had been hiding (who has seemingly vanished into thin air), and is pulled into a web of resistance activities and secrets as she attempts to solve the mystery and save the missing girl.
  • Four-Four-Two by Dean Hughes — Forced into an internment camp at the start of World War II, eighteen-year-old Yuki enlists in the Army to fight for the Allies as a member of the “Four-Four-Two,” a segregated Japanese American regiment.
  • Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein — In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, and espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak — Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel—a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.
  • Salt to the Sea: a novel by Ruta Sepetys — As World War II draws to a close, refugees try to escape the war’s final dangers, only to find themselves aboard a ship with a target on its hull.