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Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference
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Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  316 ratings  ·  64 reviews
A chronicle of the incredible correspondence between California librarian Clara Breed and young Japanese American internees during World War II.

In the early 1940s, Clara Breed was the children's librarian at the San Diego Public Library. But she was also friend to dozens of Japanese American children and teens when war broke out in December of 1941. The story of what happe
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Scholastic Nonfiction
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  316 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Oct 28, 2011 marked it as to-read
This sounds wonderful; I am an advocate of more being known about this dark mark in American history. The librarian and letters intrigued me right away but this is also a historical event I am interested in. I remember being so horrified when I first learned of the atrocity of Japanese internment, but this episode in history became even more poignant and real for me when, as an adult, I met some of my grandfather's friends at his new church group; Japanese-Americans who were life-long residents ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
I didn't know about the internment camps that Japanese Americans were forced to live in after the bombing of Pearl Harbor until I entered my twenties. I was mad that this important part of our country's history was never taught to me in school. Why would the bad things the US have done be taught, of course?

This book is about a Caucasian woman who really truly loved the children who would enter her library. Many of them were Japanese American children. She kept in touch with as many of them as sh
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Clara Breed was a children's librarian in San Diego during WWII. When her young Japanese-American patrons were interned at Santa Anita Racetrack in 1942, she did not turn her back on them. She wrote all her Japanese American patrons, and sent them books along with other items that they and their families needed. A number of Japanese American artists sent Miss Breed art objects in thanks for the art supplies she sent them. Author Joanne Oppenheim discovered Miss Breed when she was attempting to l ...more
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an important book with lessons for us today. I've read other accounts about the treatment of
Japanese Americans during World- War II, but this used many primary source documents; primarily letters from children to depict life inside the camps. It was well worth the read. Thank goodness for people like Miss Breed who did what was right in the face of extreme prejudice.
Dana Berglund
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book narrates the years of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II through the lens of one librarian's friendship with many children (and their families) who were relocated from (in this case) San Diego to concentration camps away from the coast (in this case, first at the Santa Anita assembly center, then Poston, Arizona). It is built upon the surviving letters -- more than 200 of them -- between Miss Breed and the children, who ranged from kindergarten-aged to recent h ...more

Today’s Non-fiction post is on “Dear Miss Breed” by Joanne Oppenheim. It is 287 including photo credits, an index, a bibliography, notes and an appendix. It is published by Scholastic Nonfiction. The story is told in unusual way as the author speaks to the reader with her thoughts about the letters and the events that happen in the book. The cover is like an envelope with a stamp in the right hand corner that has Miss Breed’s face on it. It also has a picture of a young Japanese American boy rea
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
There's only so much you can cram into a book. I don't remember any of the history I was taught in school, but if I did remember, I expect it would be about presidents and wars and inventions and discoveries. Columbus discovered America-- how exciting is that? Well...not exactly America. The West Indies (which he thought were the East Indies) and the coast of Central America. Nowadays I think history textbooks try a little harder, but they still seem to be telling the tale, not showing.

If I were
Melissa Kelley-Windisch
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rll539
Joanne Oppenheim has done a wonderful job of bringing the stories of the Japanese American students who corresponded with their beloved librarian, Clara Breed, to life in this book that combines a plethora of background information, pictures and the real content from letters sent to Miss Breed over the time of the internment camps during WWII. The book begins with a page of photos introducing us to many of the students that touched Miss Breed’s life and made an impact on her. I was amazed to hea ...more
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I highly reccomend this book to those who are looking for more information about what was going on here in the US during World War II. Sadly, the Nazis weren't the only group inprisoning people because of their race. It happened right here to the Japanese! I know my History classes in school glossed over this period of History, which is just horrible! I know we haven't always been "The Land of the Free" but I never thought our own government would give into the fear and slander of certin groups, ...more
Jan 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Thus far, super interesting, lots of letters and cool primary-source-type-stuff, but I'm not crazy about the writing...

OK, now what I think after finishing the book: NOT a fan of the writing at all. However, I probably would have stuck with it even if I didn't have to read it for class. I really learned nothing about Japanese Internment Camps (really, Japanese Concentration Camps) in school. Only a brief mention that it happened. That thousands of people, mostly citizens and largely children, w
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended for gr. 4-up. The book is aimed for the gr. 7-10 age group, but younger readers who are not intimidated by the size will learn from it, and it is a great introduction to the subject of Japanese-American incarceration during WWII for older students and adults. The book is essentially a collection of letters written by children and young adults to Clara Breed, the children's librarian at the San Diego library. Miss Breed corresponded with her young friends after they had been taken to ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Librarians should read this one. Miss Breed was a children's librarian who befriended the Japanese American children in her neighborhood and sent them books while they were being held in various concentration camps during World War II. She's a model for what the idea of librarian stands for!
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the reading options I gave on Japanese Internment and I've been impressed by how many students have opted to read this hefty book over shorter selections like Farewell to Manzanar or When the Emperor Was Divine. This is a valuable text -- it carries us through the progression of Pearl-Harbor-deepened anxiety and fear manifested in race-hate and discrimination to internment and lingering ruptures in democracy while raising up specific voices from the many interned. It's remarkable ...more
As the subtitle states, Dear Miss Breed is the story of one San Diego children's librarian who went the extra mile (and beyond!) to serve young people incarcerated in the Japanese American incarceration camps during WWII. Clara Breed was young herself, very newly graduated from the Masters of Library and Information Science program when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. As the only children's librarian in her county, and stationed at a branch in the primarily Japanese neighborhood of San Dieg ...more
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of WW2 children's experiences, and lesser-known American history stories
This was a moving, informative, and heart-felt story: exactly what I look for in non-fiction.

It is the story of a children's librarian, named Miss Breed, in San Diego, who a large percentage of the children that come to the library are Japanese. When Pearl Harbor happens, and the Japanese-Americans are put into camps in the desert, she stays in contact with them, and sends them books, supplies, and hope over the years they are kept in the camps. The story takes place through all the letters the
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful and bittersweet book.  Dear Miss Breed tells the true story of a young librarian named Miss Breed who worked at the San Diego Public Library in the 1940's and her relationship with the Japanese American children who lived nearby who were amongst her most devoted readers. After Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor, these children were suddenly considered "enemy aliens"and were forced to leave behind most of their belongings and evacuate the West Coast to live in relocation camps scatt ...more
Scarlett Sims
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans, many of them citizens of the United States, were shipped off to what were essentially concentration camps, where they would no longer pose a threat to the U.S. Government. Many of these citizens were just children and for some of them, a woman named Clara Breed made a huge difference in their lives by sending them books and other items during this troubled time in our history's past. This is an interesting story, ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Main Character/s: Clara Breed, Japanese-American internees
Setting: During World War II
POV: Switches between Clara Breed and the internees

Summary: This is a book told through a series of letters by Clara Breed and several Japanese-American internees. On December 7, 1941 the United States government began imprisoning Japanese-Americans because of their Japanese ancestry. The Japanese-Americans were stripped of their freedom, security, and home, and were forced to stay in internment camps with no
Karen Mcintyre
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
A remarkable account which neither demonizes or glorifies the Japanese who were forced into intermnet camps during WWII.

It is the stark narrative in the letters exchanged by the San Diego Children's Librarian, Clara Breed, and her children who are now inhabitants of horse stalls and subjected to dehumanizing conditions that speak with such clarity about the injustice of the system.

It is especially important for young students of American History to learn that we are not heros --- we never have b
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Very insightful book covers a dark chapter in American history with a detailed primary source-laden account of the daily life in Japanese-American concentration camps from the 1940s. It drives you mad to imagine the United States allowing such an institutional racist act to fester for as long as it did and with so little regard for the Japanese Americans who were imprisoned there. The book is written with a slight bent toward the young readers (many of the last sentences of a chapter end with ex ...more
West Region,
Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of Japanese American Incarceration during World War II and the Librarian Who Made a Difference by Joanne Oppenheim.

What would you do if you were told that you had to leave your home, your school, and your friends and go live somewhere far away and very different than anything you’ve ever known? What if you were also told that you were now considered an “enemy” of the country, of the country you were born in?

During the Second World War, the President of the United S
April Hochstrasser
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
A book about a librarian who was a hero to the Japanese youngsters in San Diego who were shipped off to a "Relocation Camp" in 1941 because of Pearl Harbor. This librarian didn't forget the Japanese children who frequented her library. She wrote to them, visited, sent them books and other necessary items that they couldn't get in the camps. The book was about the camps and the ridiculous position the government took that they were "protecting" the Japanese citizens by removing them from their ho ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book shows the best and worst of America. The best is the firsthand testimonies of the children who tried to make the best of being uprooted from their communities and sent to primitive concentration camps in the middle of the harsh wilderness. It is Miss Breed's love for, and support and defense of "her children," neither because of nor in spite of their ancestry, but simply because they were American children who loved and needed books. It is Eleanor Roosevelt's insightful comments on ra ...more
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
I almost cried while reading this book, more than once.

And again, this illustrates the problem I have with how history is taught in the United States. I learned a lot about Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and even Mao. But when it comes to WW2, this period in American History is simply not taught.

In Germany, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. There is no such Federal Law here. I learned about it on my own, because I read a lot as a kid which exposed me to the Japanese Internment Camps. I get so a
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I stumbled onto this book as it went across my desk at the library from someone who was compiling information on this event in US history for a paper. This book just grabbed me. From the cover to the book's layout, it covers the theme of the Japanese internment in a layered effect, from background facts to the presentation of the actual letters of the young people who lived this event. I tremble to think of the propaganda that we believe today toward others who are not of our "kind". How far wil ...more
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a juvenile book that tells from personal experiences of children of Japanese heritage who were forced from their homes to camps at the beginning of WWII. I am glad to see that the incident is being told so that young people know what happened. I didn't hear of these camps until I was an adult. I am also proud of the librarian who kept in touch with some of the children and wrote articles about them in magazines. It was a shameful part of our history--one everyone should know of. Still, i ...more
Connie T.
This remarkable book sheds a great deal of light on the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Miss Breed, a children's librarian in San Diego, feels compassionately when her patrons are forced to relocate. In an effort to provide some hope to these children, she sends letters, books, and small gifts. In turn, the children write to her, telling of their days and life in the camps. Miss Breed kept all those letters and they now serve as the basis for this book. Beginning with background in ...more
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"That looks too Japanese." my mom said with a small frown. So, I chose something else.

I never realized how I picked up somewhat subconsciously that some cultures, like the Japanese or Italians, were to be avoided. We didn't cover our furniture with plastic like the Italians, or put purple and red together....

When I met my Japanese-American coworker who was proud of her heritage and shared it with all of us, I was puzzled in the back of my mind. Proud of being Japanese....hmmm.

Reading this book h
Kristin Nelson
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This sat on my to-read pile for too long. I renewed it 4 times (yes, I had it 15 weeks!) and still hadn't read it. When I couldn't renew it online anymore, I took it back to the library and decided to check it out one more time and actually read it. I'm glad I did. I didn't know about the internment of Japanese Americans until I was an adult, and after reading this I know even more. The book was laid-out in a style that was easy to read. Joanne Oppenheim interspersed the children's letters with ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Powerful and at the same time charming. I picked up this book when I recently visited Manzanar, a former WWII concentration camp in California for Japanese Americans (citizens!). The history preserved there is eye-opening and important for us all to learn about. This book shares stories of those who were rounded up and sent to a different camp (Poston) in Arizona - yet their experiences sound quite similar to those who suffered in Manzanar. It was a time of fear and shameful words and actions by ...more
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