Carmela Full of Wishes

I LOVE this book. It sheds light on an important issue- the impact of family separation. Carmela spends the day with her brother doing chores when she stumbles on a dandelion and learns that she needs to make a wish. She only has one dandelion so she needs to be very thoughtful about her wish- should she wish for her mother's comfort? Should she wish for her father's immigration papers to be "fixed" so he can live with them in America? The study guide with this book (linked below) is so excellent and provides kid-friendly definitions for words that we as educators struggle to define in appropriate and inclusive ways (migrant, immigrant without documentation...).

Social Justice Activities:

  • I strongly suggest reading the Teacher's Guide below and studying pages 1-7. This is an excellent resource for teaching Social Justice.

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Diversity 9. Students will respond to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection.

Diversity 10. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.

Justice 12. Students will recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination).

Justice 14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

Reading Strategies:

Character Analysis:

  • Analyze Carmel's wishes. What do these wishes tells us about her? (She is loving, thinks about others, misses her father, generous

  • Analyze the brother's actions throughout the story. He seems to dislike his sister at the beginning but at the end he helps restore her wellness because he truly loves her.

  • Infer why Carmela takes her bracelets off at the end (she does this as an act of kindness to her brother).

Setting: Analyze the setting and highlight the beautiful diversity of communities.

Irony: Examine Carmela's comment, "It's a free country," against the reality facing her father.

Teacher's Guide:

Book Details:
  • Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Separated family members who do not yet have immigration documents
  • Author's stated heritage: Mexican heritage, raised in California
  • Subject Integration: Art, Science

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain