Subscribe to SLJ
Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Top Teen Title #10

#10 Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Scholastic nonfiction, 2005. ISBN:  9780439353793, 176 pp.

Publisher’s Description: “I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world.” –Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933 By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany’s young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.

Online reviews: Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari.

Awards: Newbery Honor (2006), Sibert Honor (2006), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006),  ALA Notable Children’s Book (2006), A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book (2005) BCCB Blue Ribbon Book (2005) School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2005), Orbis Pictus Honor, Parent’s Gold Choice Award, Sydney Taylor Notable, Pennsylvania Carolyn Field Award, Junior Library Guild selection, IRA Notable Book for a Global Society, NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book, Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year, Kirkus Editors’ Choice, Book List Editor’s Choice, Horn Book Fanfare, VOYA Nonfiction Honor.

Diane’s note: SURPRISE, SURPRISE! A nonfiction title snuck into the top ten titles for teens. A history book no less! Are you surprised? I think the youth vote on this title surpassed the librarians vote. I won’t be surprised if suddenly you run out and purchase all of Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s historical titles.

Why do I think Hitler Youth appeared on this list? Because it makes history relevant to teenagers. Through Bartoletti’s following twelve teenagers into the Hitler Youth, or into the opposition, we learn more about teen feelings and reactions to Hitler. It doesn’t focus on Hitler as much as it does the teen’s and their choices. While a few students knew of the Holocaust, none of them knew about Hitler’s solution to disabled people’s consumption of resources. Without preaching, Bartoletti enables readers to form opinions and consider what they would do when faced with similar choices.

Quotes from Readers: Why did this title appeal to teens? I asked my students when votes started to come in last year and these are the comments they made:

“The title of this book shocked my parents and they were afraid I was becoming a neo-Nazi. If you really read it, you might not join some of the other gangs around here, either.”

“I wanted to choose the football series, but since I could only pick one title as #1, I took this one. It makes kids think and their folks should read it too.”

“I watched this on the display shelf and I was afraid to read it, but then my teacher said I’d get extra credit for the Holocaust unit, and then it was really okay after all so everyone should have the chance to read it. (And tell their teachers to give them more credit, too.)”

“The library has three copies, but they were never in so I had to read it at the public library. I think every school and public library should have this and they should display it because we like to read true stuff, not just textbooks and those fat books.”

“People are always saying if you don’t learn from history, you repeat the mistakes from the past, but nobody ever took it down to me so I could see how hard it is to do something else instead of what everyone is doing. I wouldn’t tell <my teacher> but reading this book was probably the best thing in eighth grade.”

” I picked this because it was good. Why not?”