Dear Miss Breed

Title:   Dear Miss Breed

Author:  Joanne Oppenheim

Publisher: Scholastic Nonfiction: Scholastic, 2006

ISBN: 0439569923

About the author:  from

Joanne Oppenheim is the author of more than fifty books for and about children. In addition, she is the president and cofounder of Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Inc. One of the country’s most highly regarded child development experts, Oppenheim is seen regularly on NBC’s Today show, where she is a contributor.

Her latest book, Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference, came about when Joanne was planning her high school reunion and began searching for Ellen Yukawa, a Japanese American friend. Through her search she discovered the website of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles and the letters to Miss Breed. With the National Museum’s help, Joanne eventually found her friend and discovered that Ellen had spent the war years at Poston, the internment camp in Arizona from where the letters to Miss Breed were sent. Eager to write about and share these stories, for three years Joanne Oppenheim worked on this book, locating and interviewing many of Miss Breed’s “children.” Joanne hopes that her readers view this story, not as an isolated event of the past, but rather as an event to keep in our collective memory to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Joanne Oppenheim lives in New York City with her husband and is the mother of three grown children and the grandmother of seven.

 Plot: Clara Breed was a children’s librarian for the San Diego Public Library. In 1942, her young Japanese-American patrons were sent to interment camps. During this time, she sent books and other treats through care packages to these scared and uncertain children.

Critical Evaluation: This book describes the experiences of children in Japanese internement camp. This book contains the moving correspondence of these children to Miss Breed. The emotionally intense letters of these children show how  optimistic and hopeful these kids were in spite of their circumstances. Clara Breed was a great champion for these kids and brought attention to their plight.

Reader’s Annotation: Clara Breed was an advocate for children. These pages are filled with correspondence from children in interment camps.

Genre: non-fiction

Curriculum Ties: history

Booktalking Ideas: Pass out some of the letter the children wrote to Miss Breed. Talk about them.

Reading Level: 12+

Interest Age: 12+

Challenge Issues: racism, internment of children

Challenge Resources: 

  • Library Selection Policy
  • Rationale explaining why the item was chosen for the collection
  • Active listening skills
  • Awards
  • Reconsideration form (as a last resort)
  • National Council of Teachers of English “Right to Read”
  • Positive and negative reviews: expert, parent, student
  • ALA Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials
  • ALA Bill of Rights on Intellectual Freedom
  • Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  • Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

Why did you pick this for your collection?  

  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Young Adult Nonfiction: 2007
  • Carter G. Woodson Book Awards: Secondary Level