Examining the Historical Representation of the Holocaust within Trade Books


  • John Holden Bickford Eastern Illinois University
  • Lieren N. Schuette Eastern Illinois University
  • Cynthia W. Rich Eastern Illinois University


Holocaust, Trade books, Primary Sources, Common Core


State and national education initiatives provide students with opportunities to engage in close readings of complex texts from diverse perspectives as they actively construct complicated understandings as they explore complex texts.  Opportunities for interdisciplinary units emerge as the role of non-fiction in English/language arts and informational texts in history/social studies increase dramatically.  Trade books are a logical curricular link between these two curricula.  The initiatives, however, do not prescribe specific curricular materials so teachers rely on their own discretion when selecting available trade books.  Scholarship indicates that historical misrepresentations emerge within trade books to varying degrees, yet only a few empirical studies have been conducted.  We empirically evaluated trade books centered on the Holocaust, a curricular topic that appears in U.S. history, world history, and English/language arts.  We report various misrepresentations within the trade books regarding the Holocaust’s origins, targeted victims, victim totals, contributors, and recognition of other genocidal acts.  We provide ancillary primary sources for teachers interested in addressing or balancing the historical misrepresentations.   

Author Biographies

John Holden Bickford, Eastern Illinois University

Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Middle Level Education

Lieren N. Schuette, Eastern Illinois University

Graduate Research Assistant

Cynthia W. Rich, Eastern Illinois University

Director, Teaching with Primary Sources/Library of Congress