Celebrating 25 Books From 25 Years: Baseball Saved Us

Lee_Low_25th_Anniversary_Poster_2_LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.

Featured title: Baseball Saved Us

Author: Ken Mockizuki

Illustrator: Dom Lee

Synopsis: Shorty, a Japanese-American boy, learns to play baseball when he and his family are forced to live in an internment camp during World War II. Shorty quickly learns that he is playing not only to win, but to gain dignity and self-respect as well. Read The New York Times review and article.

Awards and honors:

  • 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)
  • Not Just for Children Anymore Selections, Children’s Book Council (CBC)
  • Parents’ Choice Gold Award
  • “Pick of the List,” American Booksellers Association
  • Washington State Governor’s Writers Award
  • “Choices,” Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)
  • “Close the Book on Hate” Reading List, The Anti-Defamation League
  • “Editors’ Choice,” San Francisco Chronicle
  • Washington State Children’s Choice Award Finalist
  • Best Multicultural Title, “Cuffies Award,” Publishers Weekly

The story behind the story:

“During August 1991, I received my first phone call from Philip Lee, who tells me he has founded a children’s picture book company called Lee & Low Books in New York City. He was searching across the country for authors and illustrators to launch his first set of books, and got my name through his wife Karen Chinn, a former Seattleite and colleague of mine at the International Examiner newspaper. Up to that point, I had never authored anything in the field of children’s literature, but would I be interested in writing a children’s picture book? I remained open to the idea, and Philip sent me an article from an East Coast magazine about Japanese Americans forming baseball teams and playing the sport within the American incarceration camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. A non-fiction story about this subject? he suggested. I decided I wanted to make it historical fiction, and create a young hero who hits not only one home run during a clutch situation, but two!

With good reviews – particularly a write-up in The New York Times Book Review – and over a half million copies of this book later sold, my career began as a children’s book author and presenter.”

Ken Mochizuki, author of Baseball Saved Us

Resources for teaching with Baseball Saved Us:

  • Teacher’s Guide from LEE & LOW BOOKS
  • Explore a reading guide and learning activities for Baseball Saved Us from OurStory, a website created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to encourage adults and children in grades K–4 to read historical fiction and biography together.
  • For ideas on how to teach World War II and the roles children can play in solving national problems, check out the NEH lesson series, On the Home Front, featuring Baseball Saved Us from EDSITEment, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) website for K–12 teachers, school librarians, and students.
  • Learn about the experiences of children and teens in World War II interment camps with “The Japanese American Internment: How Young People Saw It,” a set of four lesson plans divided into grade bands featuring Baseball Saved Us, produced by the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies.

Book activity:

Have students imagine they are Shorty in the story. Encourage them to write as Shorty a letter to a friend outside the internment camp or a diary entry describing how they feel about being in the camp and what life is like there.

How have you used Baseball Saved Us? Let us know!

25 years (1)Celebrate with us! Check out our 25 Years Anniversary Collection.

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