Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Stealing Home Book Review: Japanese Internment in Canada

Non-fiction history graphic novel for learning the history of Japanese internment during World War II in Canada

Tough topics aren’t always fun to teach. It’s not fun to talk about the Holocaust, or Japanese internment, or concentration camps, or Holodomor.

But we must know history.

We must know the truth about what happened, or we risk repeating history’s horrors. We must not shy away from difficult periods of the past. We must learn from them, and then remain vocal and vigilant so such tragedies will not be repeated on our watch.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary copy of Stealing Home from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

In the graphic novel Stealing Home, author J. Torres and illustrator David Namisato tackle the reality of Japanese internment during World War II.

While many of us may be familiar with the history of Japanese internment camps in the United States, this travesty wasn’t just confined to the US; Stealing Home is set in Vancouver, Canada.

I can’t reform school districts’ reading lists or overhaul the entire educational system, but I can make sure that these important stories are told in our own home. I have a responsibility to make sure my own kids grow up knowing truth, even when that truth is unpleasant to face.

Stealing Home is written as a slice-of-life memoir, set in a few years’ span beginning in the summer of 1941. While the main character is fictional, the events are not. Throughout the pages of this novel, Sandy deals with increasingly aggressive anti-Japanese racism, forced relocation to an internment camp, and his complicated relationship with his physician father, from whom he was temporarily separated in the camps.

Sports-loving kids who are reluctant to read might find this book particularly intriguing as well. Sandy loves baseball and looks up to the Asahi, a team of Japanese-Canadian baseball players based in Vancouver, Canada.

“Baseball is about finding your way home. It’s a metaphor for life. It was the one thing they took from us that we were able to steal back. Baseball did not discriminate against us. It did not impose any limits on us. It helped us forget everything that was wrong in the world, even if just for one moment in time.”

-Stealing Home, by J. Torres and David Namisato

Timberdoodle recommends this book for sixth grade — here’s the sixth grade curriculum kit — but I think Stealing Home is also appropriate for even younger ages, perhaps fourth grade and up. It’s a gentle, yet truthful, account.

The Stealing Home graphic novel is a great way to launch into an even deeper study of World War II, Canadian history, and the topic of Japanese internment.

Aveline pointed out Stealing Home ends on a cliffhanger; she’s right. Since the book concludes while the main character is still in the internment camp, I highly recommend following this book with a little bit of an additional lesson, so kids don’t come away from the book leaving Sandy Saito forever in the camp.

Thankfully, the book includes an afterword by Susan Aihoshi with additional information and historical context (the Asahi were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003!) The afterword also offers suggestions for further research — including a short list of books recommended by the authors.

As you study history with your kids, Stealing Home is a gentle way to introduce a difficult topic. Learning such realities is never easy, but history is such a crucially necessary part of education.

Here are some more non-fiction history graphic novels you can use in your homeschool

These non-fiction graphic novels aren’t specifically about Japanese internment, but are a great option for history enrichment, especially for reluctant readers.

I also highly recommend Farewell to Manzanar, Japanese-American author Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s memoir about being imprisoned in an internment camp in California. It’s not a graphic novel, but it will fill in a lot of missing details, especially for upper elementary / middle school readers — or even adults!

Dear readers, keep fighting the good fight. Keep teaching your kids the truth. Know your history. It matters, perhaps more now than ever.

Add Stealing Home to your homeschool library.

The NEW Timberdoodle homeschool catalog will be released in late April 2023! Are you on the mailing list?

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4 thoughts on “Stealing Home Book Review: Japanese Internment in Canada”

  1. Hello!
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    Since you are a Sonlight expert, I have a question for you!
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    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great! Thank you so much for your response! I will definitely chat with them!
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        Liked by 1 person

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