As we approach the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I am thinking about not only that event but also a recent statement from Carl Higbie referring to the internment of Japanese Americans after the attack as “precedent.” His interviewer reacted with shock and a rejection of the idea. Shortly afterwards I read a statement by actor George Takei, who spent part of his childhood in an internment camp. He has been using theater to tell the story of Japanese American internment in the show Allegiance (which will be coming to movie theaters December 13 for a one-day event). Children’s author Yoshiko Uchida has written about her internment experience, as well. You can find biographies, history books, historical fiction, and picture books in our collection to help understand this moment in history.
Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss
A picture book biography of of Kenichi Zenimura, who played professional baseball before internment in the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona, where he built a baseball field.
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
A Japanese American boy learns to play baseball when he and his family are forced to live in an internment camp during World War II, and his ability to play helps him after the war is over.
Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt
Fourteen-year-old Louise keeps a scrapbook detailing the events in her life after her best friend, a Japanese-American girl, and her family are sent to a relocation camp during World War II.
The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida
Emi, a Japanese American in the second grade, is sent with her family to an internment camp during World War II, but the loss of the bracelet her best friend has given her proves that she does not need a physical reminder of that friendship. You can find the author’s autobiography, An Invisible Thread, further down on the list.
Dash by Kirby Larson
When her family is forced into an internment camp, Mitsi Kashino is separated from her home, her classmates, and her beloved dog Dash; and as her family begins to come apart around her, Mitsi clings to her one connection to the outer world–the letters from the kindly neighbor who is caring for Dash. This title is also available as a Playaway audiobook. Duke and Liberty are two other books Kirby Larson has written about dogs in World War II.
A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, thirteen-year-old Tetsu and his family are sent to the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona where a fellow prisoner starts a baseball team, but when Tetsu’s sister becomes ill and he feels responsible, he stops playing. This title can also be downloaded through eRead Illinois.
Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
The American-born author describes her family’s experience and impressions when they were forced to relocate in a camp for the Japanese in Owens Valley, California, during World War II. This title can also be downloaded through eRead Illinois.
The Fences Between Us: The Diary of Piper Davis by Kirby Larson
Thirteen-year-old Piper Davis records in her diary her experiences beginning in December 1941 when her brother joins the Navy, the United States goes to war, she attempts to document her life through photography, and her father–the pastor for a Japanese Baptist Church in Seattle–follows his congregants to an Idaho internment camp, taking her along with him. Includes historical notes. This title is also available as a Playaway audiobook and can be downloaded through eRead Illinois.
Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler
Drawing from interviews and oral histories, chronicles the history of Japanese American survivors of internment camps.
The Invisible Thread: An Autobiography by Yoshiko Uchida
Children’s author, Yoshiko Uchida, describes growing up in Berkeley, California, as a Nisei, second generation Japanese American, and her family’s internment in a Nevada concentration camp during World War II.
Painting the Rainbow by Amy Gordon
During Holly and Ivy’s annual month-long visit at the family’s New Hampshire lake house in 1965, the distance that seems to be growing between the thirteen-year-old cousins fades when they accidentally uncover hints of a family secret dating back to World War II.
Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban
Near the start of World War II, young Manami, her parents, and Grandfather are evacuated from their home and sent to Manzanar, an ugly, dreary internment camp in the desert for Japanese-American citizens. This title can also be downloaded through eRead Illinois.
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
Sabaku Ni Saita Himawari by Amy Lee-Tai
While she and her family are interned at Topaz Relocation Center during World War II, Mari gradually adjusts as she enrolls in an art class, makes a friend, plants sunflowers and waits for them to grow. This picture book is in English and Japanese.
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas
After Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese, twelve-year-old Tomi and her Japanese-American family are split up and forced to leave their California home to live in internment camps in New Mexico and Colorado. This title can also be downloaded through eRead Illinois.
Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp by Michael L. Cooper
Uses firsthand accounts, oral histories, and essays from school newspapers and yearbooks to tell the story of the Japanese Americans who were sent to live in government-run internment camps during World War II.