Booktalks

Dear Miss Breed Booktalk

  • Grades: 6–8

Heroes aren’t always obvious, and compassion, thoughtfulness, caring and friendship can sometimes fight a war more effectively than guns and violence.

In the early 1940's, 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. In fact, in 1941, she invited Tetsuko Hirasaki, his father and his sister to have Thanksgiving dinner with her and her family. Tets was 21, but he’d known Miss Breed since he was little boy. His father worked sixteen hours a day, and the library was safe and warm, and Miss Breed was there to talk to him and look after him.

And over the next few months, American citizens of Japanese descent were treated by the US government the way Jews were treated by the Nazis, except that they were not slaughtered. They were removed from their homes and communities and incarcerated in primitive camps, just because they had the wrong ancestors.

Clara Breed never carried a gun, or a grenade, or received a medal for bravery. She fought with words — letters, books, journal article s— and with acts of kindness and compassion, and she changed the lives of dozens of children, their families, their friends, and their descendents. Can one person make a difference? Read the letters, look at the pictures, and decide for yourself.

  • Subjects:
    Japanese and Japanese American, Social Studies through Literature, World War II
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