June 3, 2014

One of the often repeated stories that Sansei who grew up the ’50s and ’60s tell is of learning about the wartime removal and incarceration of their families during World War II in college or through reading a book or seeing a documentary film—and not by hearing about it from parents or other family members. Perhaps as a result, many of us have redoubled efforts to tell this story to children, whether our own or to groups of children in schools or on field trips. One of the tools we have to do this are books for children and young adults. Once few in number, we have seen a tremendous upsurge in titles on the incarceration, such that even those of us who pay attention to this subject can lose track.

Over the past year or so, Jan Kamiya, a young adult librarian here in Honolulu, has been reading the dozens of new and old children’s books on some aspect of the incarceration story and has produced an excellent encyclopedia article on these books: Children’s and young adults’ books on incarceration. In addition to the narrative overview in the article, she has also worked to create as comprehensive a list of children’s/young adult books as possible, divided into several categories. (There is one category of books that is missing, at least for now: the many that are published outside of mainstream publishing houses, a group Jan is calling the independent/e-book/self-published category. We’ll be adding list of these books to the article later on.)
If you are at all interested in these books, take a look at the article and list. Are there any other books you know about that are missing? Jan will be adding separate articles that include more information on many of these books in the weeks to come.
Other newly added articles address other legacies of the camps, starting with one of the most popular fictional accounts of the incarceration, Jamie Ford’s novel The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund is an organization formed by Nisei who were able to leave camp and go to college with the help of many good samaritans and who have chosen to honor their benefactors by helping young people today. Adding to his contributions on key postwar legal cases, Greg Robinson writes about Oyama v. California, the Supreme Court case that effectively ended the power of the alien land laws. Finally, we’ve added two new articles by UC Berkeley Ph.D. student Jeffrey Yamashita on Fort Snelling, the second home of the Military Intelligence Service Language School, and on Frank “Foo” Fujita, a Nisei soldier who was a prisoner of war of the Japanese Imperial Army.