I know I'm not supposed to pick favorites, but if I did, this book would definitely be on the list. Dreamers is about a mother and her child, immigrating from Mexico to the United States and the feelings they experience. Most of the story is told through art and includes elements, like theme, inferring and metaphors, which make it perfect for all grade levels. For example, author, illustrator, Yuyi Morales, explains (in the videos below) that on one of the pages there's a backpack with many things inside. That backpack is symbolic of all the beautiful traits a person carries inside of them; they are regalos (gifts) for others and are the only "things" a person needs to take with them as they move through the world. 
I went overboard and included several videos of Yuyi talking about the book because hearing her explain her art is so impactful and you will experience the book on a whole new level. Part of what I love about this book is that it reminds me of my mother. I've heard her describe experiences that Yuyi illustrates and it makes me proud of my mom. I admire Yuyi's resilience- bringing her child to another country and through adversity, teaching herself a new language and creating beautiful treasures for all our children to learn from. -Dena

Social Justice Activities:

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Identity 1: Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society. 

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

Reading Strategies:

Inference: Readers infer that the main character teaches herself to read by using library books. We also learn from the videos below that reading picture books inspired Yuyi to later become an author/illustrator. 

Compare & Contrast: Compare and contrast this text (fiction) with an information text about monarch butterflies or bats (see video).

Story Elements: Plot, Setting, Problem Solution

Metaphors: The monarch butterfly is a metaphor for immigration.Yuyi Morales brought her hopes, her passion, her strength, and her stories with her, when she came to the United States in 1994 with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn't come empty-handed.

Book Details:
  • Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Immigrant, English Learner, Mother
  • Author's stated heritage: Mexican
  • Subject Integration: Art, Science

Learn from the Author

The entire video is worth watching but here are the parts that are particular helpful when teaching the book:

Explains symbolism behind the artwork and how her culture and language influences her art.
7:36-11:52- Symbolism of the skirt made of paper.

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain