Monday, January 22, 2007
Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference
Oppenheim, Joanne. 2006. DEAR MISS BREED: TRUE STORIES OF THE JAPANESE AMERICAN INCARCERATION DURING WORLD WAR II AND A LIBRARIAN WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439569923 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]
In the days following Pearl Harbor, Miss Breed, a children’s librarian in San Diego, became concerned for her Japanese-American patrons. Having served the community for years, she knew what few would acknowledge: they were loyal to America. Their ethnicity did not make them the enemy. She began writing essays in support of their cause and opposing the national position of the time. But perhaps her greatest gift was that of continued friendship. As the Japanese-Americans in San Diego were being shipped to various internment camps, she said goodbye at the train station and gave each one a postcard. She corresponded with many on a regular basis. She sent books and other small treats as well. These acts of kindness may seem small, but they made a world of difference to her children.
After Pearl Harbor, it was acceptable to discriminate against Japanese Americans. Popular opinion held that they were the enemy and we tried to dehumanize them. Going against popular sentiment, Miss Breed took an openly defensive stand. What lessons can be learned from her attitude and actions?
In the introduction, a connection is made between Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001. We boast as a nation that we have outgrown our prejudices, but have we? Discuss the dangers and implications of racial profiling. Can injustice in the name of patriotism ever be right?
Books about the Japanese-American experience during World War II:
Cooper, Michael. FIGHTING FOR HONOR. 0395913756
Stanley, Jerry. I AM AN AMERICAN. ISBN 0517885514
Tunnell, Michael. THE CHILDREN OF TOPAZ. ISBN 0823412393
By Becky Laney