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Suggested Reading

GRADES K-3

Suggested reading for grades K- 3:


The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida

Emi is given a golden bracelet by a friend as she and her family are forced to leave their home. Emi loses the bracelet but learns that sometimes all you can carry are the memories in your heart.

Hello Maggie by Shigeru Yabu

In this delightful children’s story, Shigeru Yabu tells how, as a young boy living in the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, he befriended a magpie, named it Maggie and trained it to talk.

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

This is a story about how baseball pulled together a community while enduring the injustice of the Japanese American confinement of WWII.

So Far from the Sea by Eve Bunting

Laura Iwasaki is moving across the country. Before she goes, she and her family are visiting Laura’s grandfather’s grave at Manzanar for what will probably the last time. How will she say goodbye?


GRADES 3-5

Suggested reading for grades 3- 5 includes the above books. In addition, those listed below are also recommended:


A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua

At the onset of WWII, nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in concentration camps. Inspired by Shigeru Yabu’s youthful camp experiences, A Boy of Heart Mountain is a poignant coming-of-age story and a celebration of the human spirit under duress.

Check out the reading guide:

Interactive History Adventure Books:

Everything in these books happened to real people. And YOU CHOOSE what side you’re on and what you do next. The choices you make could lead you to survival or to death. In the You Choose Books set, only YOU can CHOOSE which path you take through history. What will it be? Get ready for an adventure.


GRADES 6-9

Suggested reading for grades 6 – 9 includes A Boy of Heart Mountain. In addition, those listed below are also recommended:


Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son: His Diary, Letters & Story from an American Concentration Camp to Battlefield, 1942 – 1945 annotated by Joanne Oppenheim

The “whole mess” as Stan put it, began on December 7, 1942, when Japan Attacked the United States Pacific Fleet in Hawaii. Stanley Hayami’s diary serves as witness to a dark time in our history and is told through the eyes of a teenager who will soon be expected to take up the responsibility of a man.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

Actor and activist George Takei of Star Trek fame recounts his childhood experiences in the Rohwer and Tule Lake Relocation Centers in this graphic novel. Takei recalls the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s tested faith in democracy, and how those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

Check out the reading guide:


GRADES 9-12

Suggested reading for grades 9 – 12 includes the above. In addition, those listed below are also recommended:


Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

The true story of one spirited Japanese American family’s attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.

Free to Die For their Country by Eric Muller

In the spring of 1942, the federal government forced West Coast Japanese Americans into detainment camps on suspicion of disloyalty. Two years later, the government demanded even more, drafting them into the same military that had been guarding them as subversives. Most of these Americans complied, but Free to Die for Their Country is the first book to tell the powerful story of those who refused. Based on years of research and personal interviews, Eric L. Muller re-creates the emotions and events that followed the arrival of those draft notices, revealing a dark and complex chapter of America’s history.

Letters from the 442 by Minoru Masuda, Hana Masuda and Dianne Bridgman

This is the first collection of letters by a member of the legendary 442nd Combat Team, which served in Italy and France during World War II. Written to his wife by a medic serving with the segregated Japanese American unit, the letters describe a soldier’s daily life.

On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

A story of a Chinese boy who grows into a man during WWII and how he tried to live by his beliefs after befriending a Japanese American girl. (Fiction)

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

In 1954 a fisherman is found drowned near San Piedro Island and a Japanese American named Kubuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. (Fiction)

Displacement by Kiki Hughes

Kiku, a modern-day Japanese American, is visiting her late grandmother’s house in San Francisco when she is suddenly pulled back in time to 1940s California. Faced with the challenges of forced relocation and imprisonment, Kiku not only witnesses how Japanese Americans managed to create community and commit acts of resistance but gains a deeper understanding of her grandmother. (Fiction)

Read more about Displacement in this interview with author Kiki Hughes.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Fourteen Japanese American teenagers find their lives turned upside down when they are removed from their homes and forced into incarceration camps. In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart. (Fiction)

Check out the reading guide:


OTHER GREAT BOOKS FOR ADULTS

Heart Mountain History:


Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American Incarceration by Shirley Ann Higuchi

Navigating the complicated terrain of the Japanese American experience, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation’s board chair Shirley Ann Higuchi patched together her mother Setsuko’s story and came to understand the forces and generational trauma that shaped her own life. Moving seamlessly between family and communal history, Setsuko’s Secret offers a clear window into the “camp life” that was rarely revealed to the children of the incarcerated. This volume powerfully insists that we reckon with the pain in our collective American past.

Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II edited by Eric L. Muller with photographs by Bill Manbo

In 1942, Bill Manbo (1908 -1992) and his family were forced from their Hollywood home into the Japanese American internment camp at Heart Mountain in Wyoming. While there, Manbo documented both the bleakness and beauty of his surroundings, using Kodachrome film, a technology then just seven years old, to capture community celebrations and to record his family’s struggle to maintain a normal life under the harsh conditions of racial imprisonment. Colors of Confinement showcases sixty-five stunning images from this extremely rare collection of color photographs, presented along with three interpretive essays by leading scholars and a reflective, personal essay by a former Heart Mountain incarceree.

The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America by Bradford Pearson

In the fall of 1943, the Heart Mountain high school football team, the Eagles, finished an undefeated season, crushing the competition from nearby, predominantly white high schools. Amid all this excitement, American politics continued to disrupt their lives as the federal government drafted men from the camps for the front lines—including some of the Eagles.

Moving Walls: The Barracks of America’s Concentration Camps by Sharon Yamato, Photographs by Stan Honda

In 1994, a group of volunteers arrived at Heart Mountain to deconstruct and ship two Heart Mountain barracks to the new Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Yamoto explores the dual identities of the Heart Mountain barracks, used first as housing by incarcerated Japanese Americans at the Heart Mountain confinement center during World War II and subsequently turned into homes and farm buildings for post-war homesteaders in the area.

General History of Japanese American Incarceration:


Personal Justice Denied, Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians

In 1980, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians was established to investigate WWII Japanese American incarceration. The Commission’s report provides a summary of the events surrounding wartime relocation and a strong indictment of the policies that led to them. The report and its recommendations were instrumental in the success of the Japanese American Redress Movement, resulting in a formal apology from the president and restitution for survivors.

Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II by Roger Daniels

A concise introduction to a shameful chapter in American history: the incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America by Greg Robinson

An overview of the confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II, revealing the extent of the American government’s surveillance of Japanese communities leading up to the war and considering the aftermath of confinement.