"Baseball Saved Us"

Multicultural Picture Book

"Baseball Saved Us"

This read aloud is planned for a fifth grade class. Baseball Saved Us is a story from the point of view of a young boy who is sent to an internment camp for Japanese Americans, along with his mother, father, and brother. Feeling discouraged, the prisoners joined together and started a baseball team to lift spirits and pass time.


  • Winner, Parents' Choice Award
  • Winner, Washington State Governor's Writers Award
  • Best Multicultural Title, "Cuffies Award" - Publishers Weekly
  • "Editors' Choice" - San Francisco Chronicle
  • "Choices," Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)
  • "Pick of the Lists," - American Bookseller
  • Washington State Children's Choice Award Finalist

Author and Illustrator

Written by: Ken Mochizuki

Ken Mochizuki was approached by an up and coming publisher, and was asked to write a children's book. After being sent an article about Japanese American's forming baseball teams in the internment camps, he decided to write a historical fiction piece about a boy named "Shorty," that was a hero not only once, but twice in the book! The success of the book jump-started his career as a children's book author.


Illustrated by: Dom Lee

Dom Lee is the illustrator of many children's books. He sometimes collaborates with his wife when illustrating, so some of his work is a combination of ideas and artistic ability. The result of that collaboration is beautiful, as seen in Baseball Saved Us.


Evaluation of Multicultural Elements

This book follows much of the criteria for Multicultural Children's Literature. At the very beginning of the book, on page 2, the character's describe the setting. In doing so, they explain why they are in an internment camp. This not only sets the scene for the book, but it provides in-depth information about an unfortunate time in our history for Japanese Americans. On page 21, the main character is treated poorly by the crowd because he is a minority. This displays the depth of pain that not only our government, but our society caused due to cultural differences. The book is not written to fill a quota and it is not insincere, it was written to tell a short story about an unfortunate part of American history from the point of view of a young boy, in order to share that part of history with children.


During World War II, over 127,000 Americans of Japanese heritage who lived on the Pacific Coast were taken prisoner and sent to concentration camps, because it was believed that they could not be trusted during the war. Starting baseball teams in the camps was one of the ways that the prisoners coped with the hard times. It wasn't until 1988 that America's government finally apologized for the horrible treatment of the Japanese Americans that had their rights taken from them.



Instructional Sequence

1. I will start by giving a bit of background about WWI. Time, what internment camps are, where they were, what the result was.

2. The first question I will ask is "How would you feel if you and your family had to leave your home to live in an uncomfortable camp?" This will get them thinking about how the boy in the book felt.

3. I will also give them the vocabulary words to think about while we read. I will review the words with them using the whiteboard, so they will know what they mean when we get to them in the book.

  • irrigation: is the artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall.
  • barrack: small living space, usually for soldiers

4. I will read the story. After page 8, I will ask "Why did Teddy get upset with his father? Was he upset about their situation?"

5. After page 19, I will ask "Why isn't the boy happy to be home?"

6. After page 21, I will ask "Why is the boy so nervous to play, when he knows he can play well like he did in camp?"

7. At the end of the book, I will ask the final question. "After reading this book, how will you treat people or friends that are different than you?"

8. As a final activity and closure, I will have them write their answer to the final question in a narrative format, and make flashcards for the two vocabulary words.