We are fortunate to have so many resources that make history come alive. Here are some of our family’s favorite resources for learning about World War II.
1. The Hiding Place is an encouraging story of ordinary heroes in a dark time. Based on the inspirational story of Corrie Ten Boom, the Focus on the Family audio drama is a riveting story. The multi voice dramatization and sound effects, some of which were recorded in the Ten Boom’s actual family home, made us feel like we were in the story with Corrie and her family. Due to the nature and themes of the story, the audio drama is recommended for ages 12+. My 11 and 13 year old boys enjoyed the drama, even though some scenes were too intense for my 11 year old. To purchase or learn more, click here. If you prefer Corrie ten Boom’s original story, you can read her book: The Hiding Place.
2. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Based on the true story of Chinese missionary, Gladys Aylward, the 1958 film stars Ingrid Bergman as Aylward. In the years before World War II, the British maid raised money in order to fulfill her calling as a missionary. Even though, Aylward is told that she is not “fit” to be a missionary, she preserves until she secures a ticket on the Trans-Siberian railway to Yang Cheng, where she becomes an assistant to veteran missionary, Jeannie Lawson (Athene Seyler). The film chronicles Aylward’s journey as she helps to run an inn with Lawson, providing a hot meal and Bible stories. After Lawson’s death, Aylward takes over the management of the inn. Over time, Aylward becomes a local hero as she eradicates foot binding in the area, diverts a prison revolt, and adopts several Chinese orphans. Meanwhile, as China is being invaded by Japan, Aylward finds herself in charge of over 100 Chinese orphans. As the Japanese prepare to march into the town, Aylward must find a way to transport the orphans all the way to the next province where they will be taken to a safer place. This classic movie enthralled my children as they learned about life in China as well as the Second Sino Japanese War. We found the movie at our library, you can check your local library or pick up a copy here. In addition to the movie, the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series has a book about Aylward entitled Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime by Janet and Geoff Benge.
3. The Imagination Station: Escape to the Hiding Place by Marianne Hering and Marshal Younger In this beginning chapter book, cousins Patrick and Beth travel to Holland during the time of World War II where they have to smuggle a baby to a watch shop in Haarlem. In this fast paced book, readers learn about Corrie ten Boom, the Danish resistance and anti-Semitism during WWII. To learn more about this book or to purchase your own copy, click here. (The one we read (pictured below) was from our local library.)
4. Normandy: A Graphic History of D-Day written and illustrated by: Wayne Vanshat The graphic novel is packed with facts and pictures that detail the beginning of the end of World War II. The comic book format appeals to reluctant readers. To learn more or purchase your own copy click here.
5. Sound of Music This 1965 class is by far my favorite musical of all times. I was so excited to introduce the journey of the Von Trapp family to my boys. The Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic is set in Austria, as Hitler’s regime is gaining power. Eventually, as depicted in the movie, the Anschluss takes place, as Austria is annexed into the Third Reich. My boys enjoyed the movie but probably not as much as I did. However, after watching the bonus features on our 40th anniversary edition, my oldest is ready to visit the Von Trap family lodge in Vermont. To learn more or purchase your own copy, click here.