Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto

Written by Susan Goldman Rubin

Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

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A moving account of a woman compelled to help. This heroic story of a young woman who smuggled Jewish children out of World War II Warsaw was not known until after 1989 when Poland became a democratic republic. Irena worked as a Catholic social worker when the Nazis invaded Poland. When Jews were targeted, she worried about her Jewish friends especially when they were forced to go to a ghetto with horrible living conditions and build a wall. Irena disguised herself as a nurse to gain access to the neighborhood. She organized help on the outside and, with a secret network, began to help children escape. It was dangerous and Irena had to constantly change her escape routes to avoid being caught. She couldn’t guarantee a child’s safety or even that the child would survive, but Irena promised to do her best. Even if a child escaped, people would turn in the child to authorities for money. Irena dreamed of someday reuniting parents and children, but keeping records was risky. She managed to devise a system that survived her capture without being discovered. She was taken to prison, tortured and scheduled to be executed, but her friends helped her as she had helped so many others. When the war was finally over, Irena turned her records over to the Jewish Committee, an organization that located orphans and reunited families.

A thrilling class read aloud for older grades, this book could be used with either a heroes or a biography unit. One suggested literacy activity is for students to write a timeline of the dramatic events of Irena’s life and compare it to the events in Poland during World War II. An impressive bibliography and notes section is included along with an index. An educator’s guide is available on the publisher’s website:

  • Irena SendlerTITLE: Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto
  • AUTHOR: Susan Goldman Rubin
  • ILLUSTRATOR: Bill Farnsworth
  • PUBLISHER: Holiday House, 2011
  • REVIEWER: Risa Brown
  • EDITION: Hardcover, 40 p.
  • ISBN: 978-0-8234-2251-7
  • Lexile: 1150

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