Tag Archives: history

Learning from history

“Do you think there could ever be concentration camps in the USA?” asked my eighth grade teacher.

Some students answered no. I remembered one of the short stories collected in The Big Book For Peace, about a boy in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. That was the topic my teacher was leading to, the fact that our country once had concentration camps.

We read another short story that day, The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida, who was put in a camp with her family in Nevada. As best as I can remember, this was in English class and we didn’t really cover the topic as part of the history curriculum. In college a Japanese American man visited and spoke about his experiences being interned as a boy. Since two of these experiences (a library book and a lecture) were voluntary, perhaps it isn’t surprising that sometimes even adults have never heard of these internments during World War II.

At the end of 2016, I shared a list of fiction and nonfiction about Japanese American internment. We still own most of those books (and all of them are available through Pinnacle). Some new ones have been published since then, including a title on the list of nominees for the 2020 Rebecca Caudill Award: Fred Korematsu Speaks Up.

So far not many copies of that book have been checked out compared to other nominated titles, but I think now would be a good time to read it. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently referred to the places where migrants are detained as “concentration camps.” Some people were shocked, thinking of how the term is primarily applied to Nazi death camps. Some books, including Uchida’s, use the term to refer to the internment of Japanese Americans. Some do not. There is more than one Library of Congress subject heading, including:

Japanese Americans evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945

and

World War, 1939-1945 — Concentration camps — United States

Here are some of the new books on Japanese American internment:

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Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II by Andrea Warren
A biography of Norman Mineta, from his internment as a child in Heart Mountain Internment Camp during World War II, through his political career including serving in congress for ten terms during which time he was instrumental in getting the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 passed which provided reparations and an apology to those who were interned. Suggested for grades 4-6 or ages 10 and up

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Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi; illustrations by Yutaka Houlette
Fred Korematsu’s life changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps. This included Fred, whose parents had immigrated to the United States from Japan many years before. But Fred refused to go. He knew that what the government was doing was unfair. And when he got put in jail for resisting, he knew he couldn’t give up. Suggested for grades 4-8

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Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin
A nonfiction Sibert Honor Book about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Suggested for ages 12 and up

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Write To Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind by Cynthia Grady; illustrated by Amiko Hirao
This nonfiction picture book includes excerpts from children’s letters held at the Japanese American National Museum. Suggested for ages 4-8 or kindergarten to grade 3.

George Takei will also publish a new graphic memoir for young adults next month.

You can also read about how Japanese Americans who lived in these camps are responding to current events.

Walt Whitman is turning 200

Walt Whitman was born 200 years ago on May 31, 1819. Robert Burleigh, who has written poetry and a number of historical biographies, has a new book to mark the occasion:

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O Captain, My Captain: Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, And the Civil War words by Robert Burleigh; illustrations by Sterling Hundley
Nonfiction picture book recounts how President Abraham Lincoln inspired the poet Walt Whitman during the Civil War.

Most of my memories of Walt Whitman come from high school. When we studied American Literature, our teacher had us all purchase copies of Leaves of Grass. I was surprised to see the poet mentioned on an episode of Beverly Hills 90210, and my dad explained to me that the show’s writers were probably using the reference to hint that a character might be gay.

“I sing the body electric” and “I am large, I contain multitudes” are two familiar phrases that come from Whitman’s poetry. For my generation, the words “O Captain, my Captain” will probably bring to mind this scene from the movie Dead Poets Society.

Several years ago I had a chance to attend the ALSC National Institute, which featured Brian Selznick as a special guest. He spoke very movingly about what it was like for him, as a gay man, to illustrate a biography about this gay icon.

We no longer have that beautiful book at this library, but here are a couple of biographies we do own:

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Walt Whitman / by Catherine Reef
Illustrated with old photographs, this biography includes intriguing details like Whitman’s leaving school at age 11 and the time he spent as a Civil War nurse. 0395687055

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Walt Whitman : a biography / Milton Meltzer.
A biography of the nineteenth-century poet, which presents his life in the context of his times, and includes samples of his writing. 0761322728

For an introduction to his poetry, this is an appealing choice for younger listeners:

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When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer by Walt Whitman; illustrated by Loren Long
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You can find more of his writing in these collections:

American Poetry

Americans Who Tell the Truth

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems

A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

April showers bring May flowers

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Tons of Trucks – (Off site)
Bolingbrook Recreation & Aquatic Complex (BRAC) – 200 Lindsey Lane
Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
All ages
Visit the Bookmobile & the Library Express Van at Tons of Trucks, the annual kick-off event to Bolingbrook Park District’s “Week of the Young Child.” Visit our Vendor Fair table inside for giveaways! Drop in.

Roots – Thurgood Marshall and Madame C.J. Walker
Sunday, April 28, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
All ages, preschoolers with an adult
Join Judith and Ernie Davis for books, activities and snacks as we explore the lives of African American heroes. Drop in.

Tween DIY – Brownie in a Mug
Monday, April 29, 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Grades 4–6
Make a microwave mug-sized chocolate brownie from scratch in just minutes. Register.

Minecraft Open Play on Tuesdays in April and May beginning on April 9–May 14, 3 to 5 p.m. each day. This will take place in the 2nd floor computer lab.

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Weather
Wednesday, May 1, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
All ages, preschoolers with an adult
Enjoy stories, songs and crafts all about the weather in this spring preschool special. Drop in.

Let’s Create – May Flowers
Wednesday, May 1, 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Grades K–5
Explore art and create your own masterpiece each month. Drop in.

Panera Bread Milk & Cookies Storytime – (Off site)
Panera Bread – 855 E. Boughton Road
Thursday, May 2, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Ages 2–6 with an adult
Enjoy free milk and a cookie while we read a story and play with puppets, music and movement. Space is limited; registration required. Registration opens two weeks prior.

Arts and Fables – Bugs
Friday, May 3, 9:30-10:15 a.m.
Friday, May 3, 10:30-11:15 a.m.
Ages 2–6 with an adult
Join us for a story, and then make a craft about it! Drop in.

Imagineers Club – Imagine Creating Together
Saturday, May 4, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Grades 2–5
Sign up for a special parent and child program where you will be making spa
products together and take them home. Register.

Make-It Take-It – “Star Wars”
Saturday, May 4, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
All ages, preschoolers with an adult
Join us in Children’s Services to make a great craft to take home and keep! Drop in.

Share bookjoy

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Minecraft Open Play on Tuesdays in April and May beginning on April 9–May 14, 3 to 5 p.m. each day. This will take place in the 2nd floor computer lab.

S’mores Book Club – “Shark Attack!” & Other Shark Books
Wednesday, April 24, 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Grades 3–5
Join us for an after-school snack, talk about books and make your own video book review in Studio 300. Register.

Mini Movin’ and Groovin’
Friday, April 26, 9:30-10:15 a.m.
Friday, April 26, 10:30-11:15 a.m.
Ages 8 months–5 years with an adult
Get your little ones movin’ to music, rhythm, songs and fun! Drop in.

TechnoKids – TV Production Game Show Part 2
Friday, April 26, 4:15-5:15 p.m.
Grades 1–3
Build an exciting project while learning about engineering and electronics in this hour-long workshop. Register.

El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), commonly known as Día, is a nationally recognized celebration that emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. It is a commitment to linking children and their families to the world of books while nurturing cognitive and literacy development in ways that honor and embrace a child’s home language and culture.

Join us on Saturday, April 27 for a day of multicultural crafts, music and fun!

Mini Movin’ and Groovin’
10:30–11:15 a.m.
Ages 8 months–5 years with an adult.
Get your little ones movin’ to music, rhythm, songs and fun!

Make-It Take-It
11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
All ages, preschoolers with an adult

Join us to make great crafts from around the world to take home and keep!

Ballet Folklorico Infinity
​1:30–2:30 p.m.
All ages, preschoolers with an adult
Enjoy a special performance of traditional Mexican dances featuring Bolingbrook’s Ballet Folklorico Infinity!

The Trinity Irish Dancers
3–4 p.m.
All ages, preschoolers with an adult
Join us for an interactive and educational dance show, and then learn some basic Irish dance steps!

Be sure to join us next week for one of these special events:

Tons of Trucks – (Off site)
Bolingbrook Recreation & Aquatic Complex (BRAC) – 200 Lindsey Lane
Sunday, April 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
All ages
Visit the Bookmobile & the Library Express Van at Tons of Trucks, the annual kick-off event to Bolingbrook Park District’s “Week of the Young Child.” Visit our Vendor Fair table inside for giveaways! Drop in.

Roots – Thurgood Marshall and Madame C.J. Walker
Sunday, April 28, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
All ages, preschoolers with an adult
Join Judith and Ernie Davis for books, activities and snacks as we explore the lives of African American heroes. Drop in.shaqrk

New Nonfiction Audiobooks

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Finding the Edge: My Life on the Ice by Karen Chen with Natalie England
Now, for the first time, figure skater Karen Chen shares the story of how she got where she is today, where she’s going next, and what it takes to achieve the impossible.

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Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth illustrated by Ekua Holmes
I’ve heard it argued that the best way to enjoy poetry is to hear it read aloud. You might want to pick up a copy of the original book in this case, though, because the beautiful artwork earned the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. The poetry, by the author of The Crossover and two other poets, is inspired by famous poets from around the world.

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To the Moon! The True Story of the American Heroes on the Apollo 8 Spaceship by Jeffrey Kluger with Ruby Shamir
The exciting and inspiring true story of Apollo 8, the first manned American spaceship to break free of the Earth’s orbit and reach the moon, by the best-selling author of Apollo 13.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

If you are trying to help children learn about a difficult topic, it’s always helpful to have access to good materials and expert advice. Since today is Holocaust Remembrance Day I thought I would share some of the resources that I found for a patron who was about to start talking about this history with her son.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has excellent online information including a section of the website for with advice for teachers. There are lots of helpful suggestions, and even online training for teachers who are addressing the topic for the first time.

These are a few titles I suggested as having introductory information about the Holocaust and being short enough to read aloud to a class:

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Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived World War II by Marisabina Russo
Photos and documents in a scrapbook help tell a family’s story.

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Benno and the Night of Broken Glass by Meg Wiviott
The events of Kristallnacht are told from the perspective of a cat.

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The Feather-bed Journey by Paula Kurzband Feder
A grandmother tells the story behind a feather pillow–once a feather bed– that is the only possession left from her childhood in Poland.

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The Secret Seder by Doreen Rappaport
A boy and his father passing as gentiles in occupied France secretly join others for Passover.

For a longer read, these are some newer books that come highly recommended:

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Adam and Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld
Adam and Thomas is the story of two nine-year-old Jewish boys who survive World War II by banding together in the forest.

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Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport
Doreen Rappaport illuminates the defiance of tens of thousands of Jews across eleven Nazi-occupied countries during World War II.

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Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier
A grandmother shares the story of her experiences in WWII with her grandchild in this graphic novel for young readers.

March Madness

You don’t have to be college-aged to be interested in college basketball!

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Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy
Agnes Morley led her team to victory in the first-ever intercollegiate women’s basketball game– back when women played basketball in bloomers.

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Basketball: From Tip-off to Slam Dunk–The Essential Guide by Clive Gifford

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Basketball: Girls Rocking It by Barry Mableton and Elizabeth Gettelman

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Basketballogy: Supercool Facts You Never Knew by Kevin Sylvester

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Game Changer: John Mclendon and the Secret Game by John Coy
In 1944, in segregated North Carolina, Coach John McLendon of the North Carolina College of Negroes invited the Duke University Medical School basketball team for a secret and illegal game.

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Great Teams in College Basketball History by Luke DeCock

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Greatest Comebacks in Sports by Dustin Long

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The Illinois Fighting Illini by Mark Stewart

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The Mighty Macs
A sports movie about a women’s basketball team at a small Catholic college in the 1970s, and the coach who brought them all the way to a national championship.

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NCAA Basketball Championship by Annalise Bekkering

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Strong Inside: The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line by Andrew Maraniss
A biography of the student athlete who courageously integrated the Southeastern Conference.