Milo Imagines the World
I try to choose books that I believe are truly works of art and this book easily fits that description. Milo imagines the lives of the people around him as he sits on a bus on his way to an unknown location. He draws pictures about their lives, creating stories informed by his biases about identity. He realizes, after imagining a boy his age has an amazing life, that the boy is going to the same place he is going...(spoiler coming, stop reading if you don't want to know the ending). They both arrive at prison to visit their mothers. Matt De La Pena is a masterful writer and this book is an excellent conversation starter for teaching about bias. How do visible characteristics incorrectly inform our biases and create barriers for relationship building?
It warms my heart to think about all the children who are facing this experience and will feel seen as a result of this book.
Social Justice Activities:
The Teacher's Guide Below is excellent; I strongly suggest you read it first. Some additional activities:
Explore Bias. What are quick judgements people have made about you and how has that made you feel? Explore how identity characteristics can be pieces of us but they don’t define us and we are each uniquely ourselves.
Analyze how race and gender informed Milo's biases.
How do we connect in meaningful ways with people who are different from us? How do our similarities and differences impact the relationships we have with people inside and outside our own identity groups?
Create a community mural that celebrates beautiful pieces of our identities. Include character strengths as these are important attributes that make up who we are.
Relevant Social Justice Standards:
Identity 1. Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society.
Identity 2. Students will develop language and historical and cultural knowledge that affirm and accurately describe their membership in multiple identity groups.
Identity 3. Students will recognize that people’s multiple identities interact and create unique and complex individuals.
Identity 4. Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.
Diversity 6. Students will express comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people.
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 11. Students will recognize stereotypes and relate to people as individuals rather than representatives of groups.
Justice 13. Students will analyze the harmful impact of bias and injustice on the world, historically and today.
Please review the entire Teacher's Guide. It is excellent.
Theme: What is the author trying to teach us about bias and stereotypes?
Author's craft: Analyze how the author uses dialogue, metaphors and description to give us clues about the challenges Milo is experiencing because his mother is in prison (sister distracted, bedtime story over the phone, living at his aunt's).
Story Elements: Sequencing, Setting
- Fiction, All Ages
- Perspectives: Child of parent who is incarcerated
- Author's stated heritage: Mexican heritage, raised in California
- Subject Integration: Art