Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales, follows a mother and her young child as they immigrate to the United States and begin to make a new life together. Traveling to a new place can be scary and overwhelming, but the pair find many things in their new home that bring them comfort and hope.
As you read the book with 3-9 year olds, use one or more of these activities to explore what it means to dream about and work toward a better future.
Backpack. The family can only bring a small bag of items from their old home with them. Look at the bag of items and ask children: Why do you think the mother chose to bring these things? What type of things would you want to include in your own bag? Why? Give children a tote bag or paper sack and encourage them to fill it with things (or pictures of things) they would want to take to a new home. Share the contents of your bags with each other.
Bridge. The family crosses into the United States over a bridge. Invite children to close their eyes and imagine they are on the bridge too. Ask: Look behind you. What do you see? How do you feel about the things you are leaving behind? Now look forward. What do you see? How do you feel about the things that might happen next?
Books. One day, the mother and child discover a library. The books tell them stories about the world and lead them on amazing adventures. Ask children: What are your favorite storybooks? Invite them to share a favorite story, then act out those stories together.
Safe Spaces. Although there are many confusing things in their new home, the library feels like a safe space. Use this guided meditation to help children connect with their own safe spaces. Say: Close your eyes and sit quietly. Breathe in, (pause) breathe out. Breathe in, (pause) breathe out. (pause) Imagine you are in a place where you feel safe. (pause) Let your body rest in this space. (pause) Breathe in, (pause) breathe out. Breathe in, (pause) breathe out. (pause) When you are ready, open your eyes. Ask: How did your body feel while you were resting in your safe space?
Symbols. The family blends symbolic items from their old and new cultures to make a new life. Look together at the things the mother and child gather around themselves. Ask: What things or events do you think these items remind them of? What items in your (our) home remind you of family stories or special events? What items remind you of your (our) family’s history and culture? Invite children to draw or create a collage depicting these meaningful (symbolic) items.
Dreamers. The word ‘dreamers’ has multiple meanings in immigrant communities. The mother and child call themselves dreamers because they dream about the possibilities of their new life. Ask children: What do you think the mother and child are dreaming about? What are some of your dreams? Invite children to create a drawing of themselves with their dream depicted in a thought bubble. Then encourage them to name (or write around the image) things that would help them achieve their dream.