Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto” as Want to Read:
Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  7,596 ratings  ·  1,166 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendlerthe female Oskar Schindlerwho took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public
...more
Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Gallery Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Irena's Children, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
who the hell is sigmund freud? Fiction and non-fiction are equally engrossing for me. I feel that fiction gives a more personal and emotional feeling as you read it as if you are…moreFiction and non-fiction are equally engrossing for me. I feel that fiction gives a more personal and emotional feeling as you read it as if you are the character. Non-fiction, at least for me, provides a more unapologetic and real tone unmasked by the emotions of the characters. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,596 ratings  ·  1,166 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto
Elyse  Walters
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank You Lisa Vegan!!! Unlike Lisa, I had 'not' heard of Irena Sendler. .....
But..... like Lisa, I've read I've read MANY Holocaust books - fiction and non fiction.

Lisa Vegan's review express exactly how I feel....READ HER REVIEW!!!!

"Irena's Children", is sooooo ENGAGING!!!!!! It's non- fiction. The best 'feeling' comparison I can give about this NON-FICTION....that reads like FICTION .....( you wish it were fiction) ....is "Unbroken", by Laura Hillenbrand.
For those who remember reading,
...more
Angela M
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
" This is history, through a glass darkly, with all the attendant perils of the great darkness that was the Holocaust in Poland both during the Second World War and in the decades of communist rule that followed. I have used in all cases my best judgement as a historian and scholar and then proceeded to get on with telling the story of an astonishing group of men and women who saved from the darkness thousands of children." (Tilar J. Mazzeo in the Afterword of this book.)

I would guess that there
...more
Candi
"Great, heroic acts sometimes come from small beginnings"

The story of Irena Sendler is one that some readers may be familiar with and many more may not. I hope that this incredible womans name will be proclaimed the world over as a true humanitarian, a courageous woman, and an admirable leader. I had first heard her name two years ago, when my son began an assigned reading for school titled Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer. He insisted that I would love the book and
...more
Lisa Vegan
Before reading this book, I had heard of Irena Sendler. Id read two childrens picture books about her: Irena's Jars of Secrets and Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto. Because they were written for children, they were sanitized and did not reveal the worst of the atrocities or many of the details of Irenas life and the lives of her collaborators or the lives of the victims. I did not get even close to a full picture, though Im glad there are books for children about this heroine. ...more
Chrissie
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book moved me, as most holocaust books do. Honestly, I think that is part of what attracts people to them. We tell ourselves we are leaning history, and we are, but it is the emotional involvement that is the attraction.

This book is not just about Irena Sendler but also about the huge number of compatriots that worked alongside her. Although we do meet many individuals a number stand out, so one does not get lost. One feels connection to many. Both the author and Irena emphasize over and
...more
Tara
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
One of the most absorbing nonfiction books I've ever read. This almost impossible story of a woman who saved about 2,500 Jewish children in Poland during WW II will make you feel guilty that you are not doing more for others. Despite threats to her family, her friends, her own life, Irena Sendler triumphs and stays one step ahead of the Gestapo in Warsaw. She even survives capture and torture, never giving away any of the valuable information she had. Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace ...more
Jim
This is the story of Irena Sendler and the extraordinary things she did in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. I am sad to say that I am one of those who had never heard of her prior to reading this book. I have read many books about World War II, both fiction and non-fiction, and it amazes me how people endured and coped in the midst of a living hell.

Irena Sendler was a social worker who was granted access to the walled ghetto section of Warsaw. There she saw first hand the fate that
...more
Karen R
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thank the author for her meticulous research and the extensive hours she must have put in to bring Irena Sendlers incredible story to light. Irena was a passionate and courageous woman who risked her life repeatedly, saving thousands of children by smuggling them out of their Warsaw ghetto right under the noses of the Nazis. This novel is a difficult read because of the atrocities yet amidst the tragedies there is Irena and brave souls who step up to help. A powerful WWII story of bravery and ...more
Cheryl
Author and university professor Tilar Mazzeo has written an unforgettable story of courage, sacrifice, selflessness, honor and survival amidst the horrors and brutality of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Poland.

Irena Sendler had graduated from university with a Masters degree and had just begun a job with Warsaws municipal welfare office when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. She, along with many of her former classmates, became active in the resistance movement. Although she was not Jewish,
...more
Jean
I became interested in learning more about the Warsaw Ghetto after reading Leon Uriss book Milo 18. Mazzeos book is non-fiction and is fascinating.

This is a story of World War II, the Warsaw ghetto and the Holocaust. Mazzeo tells the story of the life of Irena Sendlerowa (Sender). The author covers her story from childhood to death but most of the story covers the war years.

In 1939 Irena Sender is a social worker in Warsaw. As the Germans take control they deprive the Polish Jews of everything
...more
Lewis Weinstein
A well written combination of wrenching emotional detail set into clear historical context. What Irena Sendler and those she worked with accomplished in the Warsaw Ghetto was beyond remarkable. The risks they took and the price many of them paid are stunning. The contrast between this human goodness and the utter depravity of the Nazis and those who helped them jumps off every page.

What kind of people murder children? The answer is people who are unable to face up to their own failures (such as
...more
Pamela
Six Million people - annihilated - viciously and systematically wiped off the planet by the Nazi regime as orchestrated by the evil and ruthless dictator - Hitler. Six Million is roughly the equivalent of the combined total population of: Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Delaware. Or the entire state of Maryland or Missouri. Daunting perspective, isn't it?

My first thought when I began reading Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500
...more
Brittany
Tilar J. Mazzeo writes from an extremely educated standpoint when talking about her subject, which in this case are the thousands of Jewish children that Irena Sendler saved from the Warsaw Ghetto. This was a powerfully disturbing but also amazing look from a different historical standpoint about a truly amazing group of people in our history.

Tilar does an amazing job of setting the scene for the reader in bringing the scenes of the book to life as though they still existed before our eyes. She
...more
Harris
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So here's the deal. Irena's personal story and those in her network who risked their lives to save so many is remarkable. However, the book was incredibly boring - my mind kept drifting to other things and it was difficult to stay focused.

Other than being a slow read, I couldn't understand why the author kept referring to Ala or others as "Irena's friend." By page 150 it was abundantly clear that these people were her friends and colleagues. I understand that there were a lot of names and it
...more
Lewis Weinstein
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
a marvelous story about an incredible woman
Carla Johnson-Hicks
Tilar Mazzeo went to Poland and stumbled upon this story when she saw all the lights in the forest. She researched and what she found compelled her to write Irena's story. I read a children's version of Irena Sendler's story Jars of Hope a little while ago. I had not heard of Irena or her heroic efforts to save the children before that. I was very impressed with this woman and when I saw this book I wanted to read it to find out more about this incredible woman. I actually had to put this book ...more
Marialyce
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And to think this woman never received the Nobel Prize!
Booknblues
To understate it, Poland during World War II was a particularly harrowing and horrifying which tested the mettle of all its citizens. There have been many excellent books written about this time, both fiction and nonfiction includingMila 18 and The Zookeeper's Wife, and I have discovered yet another one in Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar Mazzeo.

Irena Sendler was an amazing and heroic woman, who worked as a social
...more
Deborah Pickstone
A story of heroism in the face of the inhumanity of the holocaust. I was much irritated by the author inferring emotions, thoughts etc that she had not access to. That aside, the story speaks for itself and I can only stand in awe of the courage some people have in living up to their own principles. No-one can say that they know for sure how s/he would react in the same shoes; I can only hope I would display some integrity.
Hilary
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hilary by: Lisa Vegan
Deeply moving, harrowing and uplifting story of how a young social worker in Poland with the help of others saved around 2500 jewish children, hiding them, re homing them, and getting them new identities.

The devastation of Warsaw was horrendous, unbelievable that anyone survived such horror. What is truly amazing is that so many people were willing to risk their lives to help others. Irena kept carefully hidden notes on whatever information she had about the children in the hope that one day
...more
Sandy
I had to read this childrens novel after reading Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto which is the adult version of this novel. Written for middle school or older readers, this novel tells the story of Irena Sendler, an extraordinary woman who saved thousands of children in Poland during WWI. Working in the social welfare office, Irena was constantly looking for ways to help the children in this war-torn city. Making up names, she ...more
Ms. B
Oct 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Another World War II story that broke my heart. What makes this one different is it's nonfiction.
LeeAnn
When a book captures my interest I usually finish it in short order. Not so with this Young Readers Edition of Irenas Children. I had to read this one in segments, allowing myself breaks to breathe fresh air and seek sunshine after being immersed in the darkness that shrouded Warsaw, Poland during World War II. Ive read other books about the Nazis horrendous ethnic cleansing campaign, but I think like many readers I chose to picture the victims as adults, suppressing the fact that the children ...more
Krista
I loved Irena Sendler's life story. She is an amazing woman, who meant amazing people that helped save so many lives. I am so inspired and thankful that people like Irena created a resistance during WWII and helped save so many lives, risking their own, as well as, their families lives.

However, the writing itself of Irena's story was hard to get through. The author has a textbook style kind of writing that, for myself, was extremely boring. I wish her story would have been written more vibrant,
...more
Marilyn
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recieved a complimentary copy of Irena's Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo from the publisher through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I must admit that I am more than upset and embarrassed with myself that it took me so long to read Irena's story. I have read many stories about the Holocaust but this one should be read by all. Irena's fearless courage to save thousand of Jewish children was relentless even though she lived with the constant fear of discovery and ...more
Magdelanye
This is a remarkable harrowing true account of a Polish woman whose strength of character propelled her to make a huge and mostly hidden difference in the resistance to the Nazi regime in Warsaw particularly.
This is not the first book Ive read on the subject, but it remains unbelievable. The horror is too vast. TJM has found the right perspective and tone to bring the reader right into the chaos of the time.
Debbie Carnes
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A part of history few know about. People have heard of Schindler and all that he did to help during WW2, This is about Irena Sendler a courageous young woman and others who helped save the lives of more then two thousand Jewish children.
This is one of the best books I've read in a very long time.
Thank goodness there were and still are people in this world that care so much about others that they put their own lives on the line.
Hermien
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have great admiration for people who were willing to make huge sacrifices to do the right thing.
Dov Zeller
Poland was hit hard during WWII. They were brutalized by Germany.

Poland was, on one hand, a victim of Germany.

And yet, they were also extreme perpetrators of violence. Their cooperation (and often initiation) in killing Jews during the war is chilling.

It is estimated that over 90% of Poland's Jews died during World War II. There were about three million and four hundred thousand Jews in Poland before the war. Only about 300,000 survived.

Nearly 400,000 thousand Jews lived in Warsaw. Only
...more
Jolene
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I have read lots of Holocaust books and it never ceases to amaze me the atrocities done by the Nazis to the Jews and those that tried to help them. The story of Irena in Warsaw, Poland was one of selflessness and courage. Irena and her group of friends helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children to safety during World War 2. Parents were so desperate to save their children they would throw their babies over the ghetto wall not knowing if anyone caught them and took them to safety. Children would live in ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Irena's Children - Tilar J. Mazzeo 4.5/5 6 27 Apr 22, 2018 04:37PM  
Jewish Book Club: Irena's Children; 3.5 Stars 3 16 Mar 22, 2018 01:38PM  
Play Book Tag: Irena's Children; 3.5 Stars 4 16 Mar 16, 2018 11:08AM  
Around the Year i...: Irena's Children, by Tilar J. Mazzeo 1 10 Mar 05, 2017 07:55PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Littler Women: A Modern Retelling
  • Modern Madness: An Owner's Manual
  • The Pink Steering Wheel Chronicles
  • The Secret of Goldenrod
  • Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen
  • Blue Daisy
  • Fugitives of the Forest: The Heroic Story of Jewish Resistance and Survival During the Second World War
  • The du Mauriers
  • Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless with Kids in America
  • The Book of Lost Friends
  • Up Ghost River: A Chief's Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History
  • When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew: A Memoir
  • The Horse's Mouth (DI Tremayne Thriller Series Book 9)
  • Beyond Possible: One Soldier, Fourteen Peaks — My Life In The Death Zone
  • Pollyanna
  • Somewhere There Is Still a Sun: A Memoir of the Holocaust
  • A Dog Like Daisy
See similar books…
189 followers
Tilar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian, biographer, and passionate student of wine and food culture. She divides her time among the California wine country, New York City, and Maine, where she is a professor of English at Colby College.

(from the author's website)

News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
47 likes · 19 comments
“From "Irena's Children, Young Reader's Edition" by Mary Cronk Farrell: I am delighted and honored to bring her story to life in this edition for young readers. Irene's choice of lifesaving resistance to the power and evil of Naziism proves to me that we humans have great potential to put aside self-interest, to rise above hatred and fear, and to act with compassion...Some parts of the story are so terrible I don't want to write them, and they might be sad and painful for you to read. But if we don't know about the Nazis' brutality, we can't begin to understand Irena's bravery.” 1 likes
“Gandhi, who once said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Such were Irena and all her friends, and this is their story. Afterword Author’s Note on the Story of Irena’s Children” 0 likes
More quotes…