I have known six people whose families were forced to move into United States government Japanese internment camps. It’s been an honor for me and my family to listen to their stories — though not always easy to hear about or imagine the cruelty they experienced. The internment, a reaction to the war with Japan and called an evacuation by the United States government, began in 1942 and essentially imprisoned more than 117,000 people. Two-thirds of them were born as American citizens and over half were children,
February 19th, the day in 1942 that President Roosevelt signed an executive order known as the internment order, is a Day of Remembrance in many states. Educators and parents can use the day to understand more — and help 21st Century children learn more — about the internment of Japanese families during World War II. Today, as we deal with the challenges of increasing diversity in the United States and recognize our immigrant history, it’s more important than ever to understand what happened and why the United States now recognizes the internment policy as a mistake.
What if our children had instant access to a library with thousands of books from countries all over the world — a place that invited them to drop by, read, and learn about one another (without any driving)? Imagine what they could find out about the world’s cultures, celebrations, languages, differences, and also about what they have in common with all these other people and places!
That just about describes the mission of the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL), a World Wide Web destination hosted at the University of Maryland. The massive website includes digitized books in 61 languages, and it’s the largest online collection of multicultural children’s literature with a mission to the promote the love of reading AND the love of diversity. The books are beautiful filled with colorful and detailed illustrations — you almost feel like you are holding an old-fashioned book!
It’s a privilege for me to write occasional posts for the Teaching Tolerance blog. However, years before I ever wrote a word for the Tolerance website, I used it as a reference and information source to develop my teaching skills and expand my understanding of the world.
You should too.
If you don’t know about Teaching Tolerance, an arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center, or if you don’t visit the website on a regular basis, you are missing an ever-expanding information universe focused on human rights, diversity, anti-racism, community-building, acceptance, tolerance, inclusion, and much more. In the digital age, with information and misinformation moving at lightning speed, we cannot learn too much about these topics.
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