Fred Korematsu Speaks Up

The first book in the Fighting for Justice series

Winner, Carter G. Woodson Book Award

Winner, New-York Historical Society Children’s Book Prize

Winner, Social Justice Literature Award

Honor Title, Jane Addams Children’s Book Award

Finalist, 2017 Cybils Awards

Nominee, Georgia Children’s Book Award

Nominee, Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award

Nominee, South Carolina Junior Book Award

Kirkus Best Book of the Year

An ACL Outstanding Title

Fred Korematsu liked listening to music on the radio, playing tennis, and hanging around with his friends—just like lots of other Americans. But everything changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the West Coast and move to distant prison camps. This included Fred, whose parents had immigrated to the United States from Japan many years before. But Fred refused to go. He knew that what the government was doing was unfair. And when he got put in jail for resisting, he knew he couldn’t give up.

Inspired by the award-winning book for adults Wherever There’s a Fight, the Fighting for Justice series introduces young readers to real-life heroes and heroines of social progress. The story of Fred Korematsu’s fight against discrimination explores the life of one courageous person who made the United States a fairer place for all Americans, and it encourages all of us to speak up for justice.


“Atkins and Yogi raise good questions…that will inspire a new generation of activists. This first book in the Fighting for Justice series is a must-read for all civics classrooms.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


“An invaluable profile of a civil rights hero whose story deserves greater attention. Middle schoolers will take to the superb writing and original format.”—Laura Simeon, School Library Journal (starred review)


“Its appeal and user-friendly presentation are undeniable....Honors the legacy of an oft-forgotten champion of human rights in America.”—Booklist


“A new book about civil rights icon Fred Korematsu's fight against Japanese American incarceration wants to teach young readers to 'stand up for what is right.'”—Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, NBC News


“This timely history...describes the case and much more, serving admirably as a tutorial on civil rights, an introductory civics lesson, and a clarion call to action.”—Susan Faust, San Francisco Chronicle


“The relevance of the themes in Fred Korematsu Speaks Up in today's world is unmistakable.... This book gives young readers, their parents, and their teachers a suitable way to create a meaningful discussion of these important public policies that affect us all. Best of all, young readers might even be inspired by this book to take action to change public policy. Korematsu's is an important story and should be part of our national educational curriculum.”—Eileen Kurahashi, Los Angeles Review of Books


“Now’s the perfect moment for a civil rights refresher, which makes Fred Korematsu Speaks Up...right on time. Korematsu, an Oakland-born Japanese American who resisted internment during WWII, is given powerful treatment by authors Laura Atkins...and Stan Yogi and compelling images by Oakland illustrator Yutaka Houlette. Read it with a young revolutionary by your side.”—Linda Lenhoff, San Francisco Magazine


“Questions aim at getting kids to look at their own lives, and an activist spread gives kids tips about how they can get involved. ... The current political climate seems ripe for Korematsu's story.”—Marta Yamamoto, East Bay Times


“This story should be in every classroom.”—Rethinking Schools


“To the reader who is an immigrant, this is an empowering story. To the one who is not, this is the bridge to help him understand what it took for his neighbor, classmate, or friend to enjoy the same freedom today.”—Nathalie Mvondo, Multiculturalism Rocks


“We don’t inherit democracy; we create it. Fred Korematsu Speaks Up shows us how.”—Suzanne Enzerink, Public Books


“A rare gift for young readers and parents of young activists-in-the-making.”—Tamiko Nimura, International Examiner


“Quite delectable.... The book not only pays homage to Korematsu the man, but underlines the particular importance of his story.”—Greg Robinson, Nichi Bei Weekly


“Brilliant.”—Elizabeth Partridge, award-winning author of Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary


“A powerful, nuanced book about a man who has had a profound impact on American civil liberties.”—Patricia Wakida, coeditor of Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience


Fred Korematsu Speaks Up has it all: a compelling storyline with an appealing hero, thorough and accurate background information that places his story in different contexts both historical and contemporary, and an inviting design that uses many visuals even those familiar with the story will not have seen. Easily one of the best nonfiction children’s books on any aspect of Asian American history.”—Brian Niiya, content editor for Densho


“This is a book for all the young people who deserve to feel the joy and power of making a difference in this world—and for the educators, parents, and grandparents who love them. How wonderful to see that no one is alone!”—Jane Kurtz, cofounder of Ethiopia Reads


“Korematsu's fight against discrimination is one of perseverance and a valuable lesson for us all.”—Adoria Williams, librarian at Jefferson School


“The authors and illustrator have given a gift to the world with their telling of this story, one which instead of needing to be ‘required reading’ will simply be devoured by young and old alike.”—Craig Wiesner, cofounder of Reach and Teach

About the Authors

Laura Atkins

Laura Atkins is an author, teacher, and independent children’s book editor with over twenty years of editorial experience. She worked at Children’s Book Press, Orchard Books, and Lee and Low Books, helping to produce winners of the Coretta Scott King Award and American Library Association Notable Book selections, among others. She taught creative writing at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) in London, where she also received her M.A. in children’s literature, and she completed her M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2016. In addition to cowriting Fred Korematsu Speaks UpLaura is the author of the lighthearted picture book Sled Dog Dachshund (Minted Prose Press). Passionate about diversity and equity in children’s books, Laura is based in Berkeley, California, where she lives with her daughter. Find out more at

Stan Yogi

Stan Yogi is the coauthor, with Elaine Elinson, of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, and, with Laura Atkins, of the children's book Fred Korematsu Speaks Up. He managed development programs for the ACLU of Northern California for fourteen years and is the coeditor of two books, Highway 99: A Literary Journey through California's Great Central Valley and Asian American Literature: An Annotated Bibliography. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, MELUS, Los Angeles Daily Journal, and several anthologies. He is married to nonprofit administrator David Carroll and lives in Los Angeles.

Photo by Michael Woolsey