by Yuyi Morales
“Books became our language. Books became our home. Books became our lives. We learned to read, to speak, to write, and to make our voices heard.”
Based on her own life, Yuyi Morales wrote & illustrated this beautiful picture book to tell part of her story of immigrating to the United States. The words & images are rich with meaning and allow the reader to feel the struggles of not understanding the language or customs of a new land but never losing a sense of love and hope. Life expands for Yuyi and her son when they discover the public library. Through books, especially picture books, they dream and learn, including finding the words to speak and write in English all that they thought and felt in Spanish.
Talk About It
- What do you notice about the images on the title page? Who do you think the little girl is that fell asleep drawing?
- Do you know what Adios Corazon means? It means goodbye heart. Talk about why the author chose this phrase. Think about what it might feel like to leave the place you know & love for someplace you’ve never been.
- What is an Someone who moves from their home country to a new country to live for a very long time (permanently).? If you moved to a new country, with a new language, what things would you be curious and excited about? What things would make you feel nervous or afraid?
- Why do you think she was afraid to speak? How do you think it made her feel to be unsure all the time?
- Have you heard the word caminantes? It means walkers. Why do you think they spent so much time walking? Look at the illustrations and notice together all the different things they saw walking around San Francisco.
- What was the place they discovered? Do you remember your first time in a library? (Share with your child what you remember about the experience.) Why do you think she felt so many different emotions?
- What do you think it would feel like to discover a place filled with books? What if you didn’t speak the language but through pictures could find things that were familiar or began to teach you something new?
- In the picture where the librarian is giving them a library card, why do you think the author/illustrator drew a sun beaming out of the backpack?
- What do you think it felt like to begin to learn to write & speak a new language? Why is it important for people to have their voices heard?
- The author describes the characters as being lucha (fighters), resilience (being able to keep going during hard times), and hope. Why do you think she chose those words? How do you think they apply to all immigrants?
- In Yuyi’s story she talks about feeling invisible when she first came to the United States. What would it be like to feel that way? What would it be like for children your age to feel this way?
- What does the author mean when she writes, “One of the most important things I learned at the library is that through books we can find our path and our purpose.”? Have you ever read a book that inspired you…maybe gave you a new idea or changed how you think about something?
- Think about a part of your day where language is important to getting something done. Some ideas include deciding on what to eat for breakfast, choosing a movie to watch together, or asking for help with a project. Now, imagine you are in a new country where you don’t speak the language. In order to experience a bit of what that might feel like take the part of your day you have chosen & attempt to communicate your questions, needs, answers, etc without any words. Afterwards, talk about your thoughts & feelings. Were you successful in being understood or getting the help you needed? What would it be like to have this experience repeatedly as you learn a new language & the rules and ways of life of a new country?
- Based upon the above experience, spend time thinking as a family of ways in which you can help immigrants to this country. Reach out to your local library, or other agencies, to see what services they offer immigrants and if there is a way to get involved. What can you do if you ever have a child in your class who is new to this country? How can you help them feel included, even if you don’t yet speak the same language?
- The back of the book has a list of books that inspire the author; many of which are illustrated within the pages of the story. Go back through the book & see how many you can find. Look at the list and choose some titles to check out from your library.
- The illustrations in the story are full of images important to Mexican The traditions, customs, arts, and achievements of a particular nation or group of people.. Spend some time looking up their meaning. For example, butterflies are believed to represent heroes or people who have died.
- The author invites the reader to tell their story. Spend some time making a book of your story. What would you want other people to learn about you, your family, your heritage? Read the section “How I Made this Book” & see if it inspires how you create the illustrations for your story.