September 2023 Featured Book: Ages 5-6
Areli Is a Dreamer by Areli Morales
Areli Morales shares her personal story of coming to America as a child who was an undocumented immigrant. Born in a small town in Mexico, she lived with her grandparents there until her parents were able to find a way for her to join them in New York City.
- Showing evidence of societal messages affecting how they feel about their self-identity and/or group identity, i.e., evidence of beginnings of internalized superiority (IS) or internalized oppression (IO).
- May choose to play only with children close to his/her gender and racial/cultural identities, but may also reject members of their own racial/cultural group.
- Developing critical thinking skills, and can engage in “social justice” activities on issues that directly touch them, in their classroom, school, or neighborhood.
- How do we find a way to talk to young children about immigration when even grown ups find it overwhelming? It is so many different things to so many different people. We don’t have to cover it all, but we can start with a real story that a child can relate to.
Areli Morales, who is the author of this autobiographical story and now a preschool teacher, suggests the following topics for conversations, depending on the stage of your child:
“Why do people leave their home countries to seek a home elsewhere?”
Explain that immigration is the process of leaving your home country and coming to another country to live. A family must have an important reason to leave their home behind and separate from those they love—such as extreme poverty, or danger, or wanting to be with the rest of their family.
“Who are Dreamers and DACA recipients?”
Like Areli, Dreamers are people who were brought to America as young children, have lived and gone to school here, and identify as Americans. They are called “Dreamers” because of the dreams they have for a better future in this land. DACA stands for ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” and it is a law that allows them to stay—temporarily at least—in the United States.
“Documented and undocumented immigrants”
Documented means that our government has given them papers/documents allowing them to enter the U.S. as tourists, students, or temporary workers. Undocumented means that they have crossed the border without getting permission from the U. S. government, or that they stayed here after their paperwork expired.
“Importance of language: “undocumented immigrant” vs. “illegal alien””
“Illegal alien” is an considered an offensive term because it makes them sound like criminals who are less than human. “Undocumented immigrant” simply means that they are in the U.S. without papers giving them permission to stay. It is helpful when we equip our children with appropriate language to use.
“Creating a welcoming environment for new students”
Does your child know other children, perhaps at their school or preschool, who have immigrated to America? If not, someday they might. What could a child do to include them, to make them feel welcome, like they belong?
These topics are suggested by the author in an interview with Diverse Book Finder. She also shares more about her background, her life today, and photos of herself at the age she was in the book and now. You can find the full interview here.
- Do you have a personal immigration story you could share with your child, about someone in your family, or someone that you know? Children always learn best when they begin with something they know.
- Find an opportunity to take your family to a place where they can experience the variety of cultures that together make our community a better, more colorful place to live—a restaurant, cultural fair, museum, etc. Check our Local Events and In Community sections of the newsletter for ideas.