Elementary Age:

Stealing Home

Fish for Jimmy: Inspired by One Family’s Experience in a Japanese Interment Camp

Middle School Age:

They Called Us Enemy – George Takei’s graphic novel-style memoir

Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, A Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II

High School and Beyond:

Farewell to Manzanar


National Parks Service: Japanese American Life in Internment Japanese American Relocation

Truman Library: Japanese-American Internment

NBC News: George Takei Remembers Being in an Internment Camp


PBS: Children of The Camp


Japanese Internment Camps


 Between 1942 and 1948, the United States government forced Japanese people from their homes and forced them to live in internment camps around the country. 

These internment camps were a reaction to the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese army (this surprise bombing was later determined to be a war crime). The United States responded to the attack by declaring war with Japan, sparking Germany to declare war with the United States because they were allies to Japan, and the United States officially entered World War II.

During this state of frenzied panic, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order to detain anyone of Japanese descent for fear of espionage – without any proof that this was happening. Most of these people, including five-year-old George Takei of eventual Star Trek fame, were American citizens. George Takei told a story reported to NBC News of his memories of being removed by American military soldiers at gunpoint. 

Two of the internment camps were placed inside Native American reservations, despite the protests of the tribes. 

After the war ended and the last camp closed in 1948, many captives returned to their homes to find they had been destroyed or sold out from under them while they were away. 

It wasn’t until 40 years later that President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988 that anyone saw restitution. And the CLA only gave each survivor $20,000. 

In March of 2022, 16 House Republicans voted against a bill that would create a “Japanese American World War II History Network” within the National Park Service as an educational memorial. It passed anyway.