Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki – Teaching Literary Skills with Picture Books

I am sharing a book a day for the next 30+ days. Picture books that can be used to teach literary skills to middle or high school students. Just because they are in the older grades doesn’t mean that picture books can’t be a great resource on its own or as a paired passage. Here is #8

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki


Description from Amazon:

Shorty and his family, along with thousands of Japanese Americans, are sent to an internment camp after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fighting the heat and dust of the desert, Shorty and his father decide to build a baseball diamond and form a league in order to boost the spirits of the internees. Shorty quickly learns that he is playing not only to win, but to gain dignity and self-respect as well.

Baseball Saved Us is the ultimate rite of passage story. It will appeal again and again to readers who enjoy cheering for the underdog.

Literary Skills that can be taught with the book Baseball Saved Us, a Parents Choice Award Book?

Discussion (theme)
– Wartime mistakes and Peacetime apologies


–  What do you think the story is about based on the cover and title?

–  How does reading the Author’s Note change your predictions of this story?

Cause and Effect

–  What happened to cause those in the story to be placed in a camp?

–  Why did the father feel they needed baseball?

Compare and Contrast

– Compare the camp game with the school game of baseball?

–  The celebrations afterward (is one more important than the other?)


–  Why did the father decide to build a baseball field?

–  What can you infer from the guard giving the boy a thumbs up after his homerun?

–  What can you infer from the way in which the word “Jap” is used by the other school children?

Writing Activities

–  Pretend that you are Shorty. Write a diary entry telling how you felt when you hit your first homerun. Discuss your feelings about the guard who wore sunglasses. (Option: each student writes different diary entry and create a collective diary)

–  Write a newspaper article about Shorty’s home run in the Camp. Include a description of the baseball field, and explain why the teams are playing baseball in the desert.

–  Imagine that you are living in a camp like the one Shorty lived in. Write a letter to a friend, telling about life in the Camp and how you feel about being sent to live there.

–  Write a brief book review about Baseball Saved Us. Explain what the story is about and how you felt about the characters and events in the book. Be sure to include the title and the author in your review. If you would recommend the book to your classmates, give reasons for your recommendation.

–  Write about a time when you felt determined to complete something against the odds.

Paired Passages

–  “The Bracelet” by Yoshiko Uchida (Available on Amazon)

–  Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Available on Amazon)

–  Articles on WWII (U.S. History)


Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki can be found on Amazon click HERE

Want more? There is more and can be found on the resource at TpT.

Follow this blog and my TpT store for more great picture books to teach to secondary students.

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