As we approach Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January, we give pause to think about this year’s theme ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’, a theme that resonates across faiths, across cultures, across nations. We were reminded this week by young poet Amanda Gorman, who delivered her message so eloquently at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, that each of us must take responsibility to be that light.

There is always light,

If only we are brave enough to see it,

If only we are brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman, Inuagural Poet, 2021

A bringer of light must be a truth-teller and bear witness to the injustices of history and the injustices of our time. Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to, not only honour the stories of those who did not survive to tell them, but also to acknowledge that the line between light and dark is fragile. The light must be kindled and tended to protect it from the insinuating wind and the blustering tempest that seek to extinguish it by stealth or by force.

So this year, for Holocaust Memorial Day we consider ‘ the depths that humanity can sink to but also the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after the genocide’.

To find out more about the theme for this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day visit the website

Stories are one of ways in which we can kindle the light in young readers and there are many good books that we can turn to. We’ve put together some suggestions that you might want to read at any time of the year

A beautiful picture-book adaptation of Thomas Harding’s Costa-shortlisted biography for adults, exquisitely illustrated by Britta Teckentrup. On the outskirts of Berlin, a wooden cottage stands on the shore of a lake. Over the course of a century, this little house played host to a loving Jewish family, a renowned Nazi composer, wartime refugees and a Stasi informant; in that time, a world war came and went, and the Berlin Wall was built a stone’s throw from the cottage’s back door.

Just Imagine review

Nikki Gamble interviews Thomas Harding for #InTheReadingCorner podcast.

Nikki Gamble’s teachers notes for Walker Books

This is the true story of Michael Rosen’s search for his relatives who “went missing” during the Second World War – told through prose, poetry, maps and pictures. When Michael was growing up, stories often hung in the air about his great-uncles: one was a clock-mender and the other a dentist.

They were there before the war, his dad would say, and weren’t after. Over many years, Michael tried to find out exactly what happened: he interviewed family members, scoured the internet, pored over books and travelled to America and France. The story he uncovered was one of terrible persecution – and it has inspired his poetry for years since.

Just Imagine review written by Ben Harris @onetoread

Nikki Gamble interviews Michael Rosen for #InTheReadingCorner podcast.

Nikki Gamble’s teachers’ notes written for Walker Books

Summer 1945. The Second World War is finally over and Yossi, Leo and Mordecai are among three hundred children who arrive in the English Lake District. Having survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, they’ve finally reached a place of safety and peace, where they can hopefully begin to recover.

But Yossi is haunted by thoughts of his missing father and disturbed by terrible nightmares. As he waits desperately for news from home, he fears that Mordecai and Leo – the closest thing to family he has left – will move on without him. Will life by the beautiful Lake Windermere be enough to bring hope back into all their lives?

Tom Palmer taked to Nikki Gamble for #InTheReadingCorner podcast.

Teaching notes from Tom Palmer’s website

Two sides. One memory. Vienna.

1936. Three young friends – Leo, Elsa and Max – spend a perfect day together, unaware that around them Europe is descending into a growing darkness, and that events soon mean that they will be cruelly ripped apart from each other. With their lives taking them across Europe – to Germany, England, Prague and Poland – will they ever find their way back to each other? Will they want to? Inspired by a true story, WHEN THE WORLD WAS OURS is an extraordinary novel that is as powerful as it is heartbreaking, and shows how the bonds of love, family and friendship allow glimmers of hope to flourish, even in the most hopeless of times.

Liz Kessler talks to Nikki Gamble for #InTheReadingCorner podcast.