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A Teacher's Resource for Farewell to Manzanar (curricula)

Creators: Phyllis Goldstein, Facing History and Ourselves, Voices of Love and Freedom


This study guide developed in 1999 by Facing History and Ourselves with Voices of Love and Freedom is part of the "Witness to History" series that examines a literary work confronting the complexity of history particularly around issues of prejudice and discrimination. It is based on the 1973 edition of Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston. In this memoir, Wakatsuki Houston traces her family experiences during World War II, when because of their Japanese ancestry, they are incarcerated at Manzanar, a concentration camp in the California desert.

The guide focuses study on several interrelated ideas including justice, injustice, identity, and loyalty. The central questions explored are: How do our confrontations with justice and injustice help shape our identity? How do those confrontations influence the things we say and do? To prepare the teacher prior to using the text, there are six pages in the "About the Book" section including three pages that provide a historical context, along with the story summary, critical responses to the book, and a short biography of the authors. An overview of the resource outlines the literary analysis (genre, themes, point of view, writing style) and notes the emphasis of perspective taking and social/cultural awareness in the book.

The resource guide divides the book into five sections for study. For each section, the guide suggests various learning activities, discussion prompts, and related readings/viewings. Reproducible worksheets and handouts—many from primary source materials—including excerpts from justices' opinions in Korematsu v. United States and Hirabayashi v. United States , Proclamation 4417 by President Gerald R. Ford, and the apology letter to Japanese American survivors of the incarceration from President George H.W. Bush are also provided. It should be noted that the primary sources are not always adequately cited, for example dates are missing in the Korematsu v. United States excerpt, and the letter to Japanese Americans should be credited to George H. W. Bush, not George W. Bush.

Reading 1: Defining Injustice (pages ix-33)

Reading 2: Questions of Loyalty (pages 34-65)

Reading 3: Free to Go (pages 66-107)

Reading 4: Re-Entry (pages 108-130)

Reading 5: Confronting the Past (pages 131-145)

Other titles featured in the "Witness to History" series:

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Night by Elie Wiesel

Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Voices of Love and Freedom is a collaboration of the Judge Baker Children's Center, Harvard Graduate School of Education, City University of New York Graduate School, and Wheelock College. Founded in 1992, this nonprofit educational organization develops K-12 students' appreciation for literature from around the world, supports them finding their own voice, and promotes the use of the values of love and freedom to live healthy lives.

Facing History and Ourselves is a nonprofit educational organization that works with teachers and students around the world to address racism, prejudice, and antisemitism to promote a more humane and informed citizenry.

Authored by Janet Hayakawa , Densho