They Called Us Enemy by George Takei is a graphic memoir about George Takei’s childhood years living in one of the “relocation centers” in the United States during World War Two.
This one is required reading in my own home which is why I chose this title for my kid’s graphic novel online book club in 2023. This period in history is often neglected in history books and this is a great way to include it in your homeschool history class.
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Genre: Memoir (Graphic Novel)
Length: 208 pages
First Published: 2019
Publisher’s Description: Long Distance
“Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.
They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.”
My Goodreads Review
In his graphic memoir, George Takei records his childhood years growing up in a “relocation center” in the USA during WW2. His family was living in California in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that every person of Japanese descent on the West Coast should be shipped to one of ten “relocation centers.” George Takei was only four years old and this memoir is his story of those years, creatively interspersed with stories of his life at the present.
This is such an important graphic novel about a tragic, difficult part of US History that is rarely taught in schools. In my personal opinion, this should be required reading in high schools across the USA. It certainly is required in my homeschool for my children.
Because this story is told through George’s eyes as a child, the book remains appropriate for tweens and teens to read. He often reminds the reader that his childhood memories don’t include the harsh reality that his parents were very aware of. I appreciated his honesty when he shared about the anger he felt toward his father in his teen/young adult years and the understanding and compassion he gained about his father’s decisions as an adult.
The way he weaves important details about his present life and encouragement for the future into the story was well done. I loved this book and highly recommend it as reading for middle and high school students and beyond.
My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
They Called Us Enemy: Discussion Questions for Your Homeschool Study
1. The story-telling occasionally shifts from George’s childhood to the present time and how the past impacted it. Did you enjoy the shifts? Do you think they were an important part of the story?
2. What did you learn by reading George Takei’s memoir? Why is it important for people to read this story? What can they learn?
3. The graphics in this story are drawn in black and white. How did you like this style? Why do you think they chose it for this story?
4. On page 165, the image is drawn very faded. Why is this? How does this graphic help tell the story of what is going on with this image?
Homeschooling With Graphic Novels: Discussion Questions To Help You Get Started
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