When I Grow Up by Ken Krimstein

What a powerful read. That this book exists is a miracle: originally written for a contest in 1930s Eastern Europe (in what is now Poland and Lithuania), these six essays were among hundreds hidden from the Nazis multiple times and eventually discovered in a church in 2017. In When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers (2021), cartoonist Ken Krimstein shares and illustrates these slice-of-life stories from teenagers encouraged to be truthful in their anonymous entries for a 1932 contest. It shows the universality of growing up and introduces readers to a new piece of history. And the reader knows what these writers do not: the looming horrors of the Holocaust and World War II.

Read this book and these beautiful stories. If you enjoy hidden histories or the work of Ruta Sepetys, try When I Grow Up. If Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman spoke to you, try this book.