13 children's books about Japanese-American girls interned during WWII.
For most people, the idea of rounding people up into camps is decidedly un-American, the sort of thing that we associate with tyrants and dictatorships. And yet, that's exactly what happened after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII — over 100,000 Japanese Americans, the majority of whom were native born U.S. citizens, were forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated in the name of "national security." Any person of Japanese ancestry could be suspect, the government at the time reasoned, and therefore all of them should be treated as such. In fact, the federal government admitted decades later that the policy has been based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."
This is not a comfortable part of American history, and often, people avoid talking to children and teens about it. And yet, especially in the current climate, when executive orders are once again targeting individuals based on their associations with countries deemed enemies, it is more important than ever to talk about the realities of what Japanese-American citizens faced when fear overwhelmed concerns about justice and compassion.
With the help of thoughtful children's literature, it is easier to explain this shameful chapter in American history. With that in mind, we've showcased 13 books for children and teens about the experience of Japanese-American girls both during their time in internment camps and as they worked to rebuild their lives after being released. These books will help kids understand more about the realities of this historic period, the injustices that the Japanese-American community experienced, and why it's critical that we never allow such policies to be put in place again. Continue reading