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Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient

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In the first picture book written by a DACA dreamer, Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story. When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family--and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too. Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Satu In the first picture book written by a DACA dreamer, Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story. When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family--and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too. Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela's house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli's limited English came out wrong, and schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But time passed, and Areli slowly became a New Yorker--although not an American citizen. I could do anything here, Areli says one day to the city sky. Someday, I will. This is a moving story--one that resonates with millions of immigrants who make up the fabric of our country--about one girl living in two worlds, a girl whose DACA application was eventually approved and who is now living her American dream.


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In the first picture book written by a DACA dreamer, Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story. When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family--and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too. Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Satu In the first picture book written by a DACA dreamer, Areli Morales tells her own powerful and vibrant immigration story. When Areli was just a baby, her mama and papa moved from Mexico to New York with her brother, Alex, to make a better life for the family--and when she was in kindergarten, they sent for her, too. Everything in New York was different. Gone were the Saturdays at Abuela's house, filled with cousins and sunshine. Instead, things were busy and fast and noisy. Areli's limited English came out wrong, and schoolmates accused her of being illegal. But time passed, and Areli slowly became a New Yorker--although not an American citizen. I could do anything here, Areli says one day to the city sky. Someday, I will. This is a moving story--one that resonates with millions of immigrants who make up the fabric of our country--about one girl living in two worlds, a girl whose DACA application was eventually approved and who is now living her American dream.

30 review for Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient is a children's picture book written by Areli Morales and illustrated by Luisa Uribe. A Dreamer recalls her journey from Mexico to New York and the subsequent reality of living as an undocumented immigrant. Areli Morales Romero was born in Puebla, Mexico, but was raised in New York City. She is a DACA recipient. A graduate of CUNY-Brooklyn College with a bachelor's degree in childhood bilingual education, she currently works as a Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient is a children's picture book written by Areli Morales and illustrated by Luisa Uribe. A Dreamer recalls her journey from Mexico to New York and the subsequent reality of living as an undocumented immigrant. Areli Morales Romero was born in Puebla, Mexico, but was raised in New York City. She is a DACA recipient. A graduate of CUNY-Brooklyn College with a bachelor's degree in childhood bilingual education, she currently works as a substitute teacher. Morales' text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. Morales, a DACA recipient, spins an admirable third-person memoir that deeply resonates thanks to keen details that conjure moods with a few choice words. Backmatter includes an author’s note and glossary. Uribe's colorful yet muted artwork depicts the young Dreamer’s voyage from Abuela’s house to America with a lovely sense of restrained appreciation. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. Areli's tale begins at Abuela's house and calls from Mamá and Papá from America. It’s an idyllic life, but it is undercut when Areli's big brother, Alex, born in America, returns to Nueva York, leaving Areli behind. Though Mamá and Papá work hard for a better life, the days pass with Areli separated from her family. Then one day Areli must leave Mexico and head to New York with a family friend. It’s a time of difficult goodbyes for Areli, and in the span of a few wordless pages, Areli's in the midst of the bigger and faster and noisier bustle of New York, reunited with her family. All in all, Areli Is a Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient is a powerful in its clear-eyed optimism about an undocumented immigrant.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Osmar Piza

    Growing up a Latin X reader it was always amazing to find books that depicted people that looked and sounded/spoke the same language as me. But this book goes above and beyond and giving you the real-life story of Arieli. There's very few punches that are pulled, but something that I could relate to personally is not going to Abuela's house anymore. And not seeing my cousins every day like how I was used to. The isolation you feel when you have to leave your home in search of a better life is de Growing up a Latin X reader it was always amazing to find books that depicted people that looked and sounded/spoke the same language as me. But this book goes above and beyond and giving you the real-life story of Arieli. There's very few punches that are pulled, but something that I could relate to personally is not going to Abuela's house anymore. And not seeing my cousins every day like how I was used to. The isolation you feel when you have to leave your home in search of a better life is devastating. So a book like this is essential to have especially in a classroom setting so that kids just like Areli know that they're not alone.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Delia Ruiz

    DACA stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program started in 2012 under the Obama administration allowing young people (without citizenship/residency status) to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study, and obtain driver's licenses. The DACA application is a lengthy one with background checks, school enrollment verification, and submission of a variety of evidence paperwork. DACA recipients are also referred to as DREAMERS. Despite DACA stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program started in 2012 under the Obama administration allowing young people (without citizenship/residency status) to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study, and obtain driver's licenses. The DACA application is a lengthy one with background checks, school enrollment verification, and submission of a variety of evidence paperwork. DACA recipients are also referred to as DREAMERS. Despite the legal status, DREAMERS also call the U.S. home. 💖In Areli is a Dreamer, we are introduced to Areli's life in the mountains. Both Areli and her brother Alex live with their Abuelita in Puebla, MX while their parents work in the United States. On Sundays Areli and her brother chat with their parents who remind them that they'll be reunited soon. That day soon comes for Alex who leaves for New York first. Areli soon joins the journey to the U.S. with a family friend parting a sad goodbye with her Abuelita and life in Mexico. Life in the U.S. is a culture shock with the bustle of a lively New York city plus a whole new language to learn. Through Areli's memoir we see an adjustment to a new life but also a story of hope for other young Dreamers. “I hope undocumented kids reading my story feel inspired to continue to work hard for their dreams. I want them to know that they are not alone in their journey and that so many people want to see them succeed,” -Areli Morales

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Trying to find a future through the cost of giving up everything? Leaving your family, your home, your country, your language, and risking everything for this? Areli Morales did not choose to do this; her family chose this for her in hopes of a brighter future. She left behind her favorite foods, playing hide-and-seek with her cousins, memories of the sun shining on the mountains, and her hardest of all to leave, her Abuela. Instead, when she arrived, Areli heard the ugliness of children who cal Trying to find a future through the cost of giving up everything? Leaving your family, your home, your country, your language, and risking everything for this? Areli Morales did not choose to do this; her family chose this for her in hopes of a brighter future. She left behind her favorite foods, playing hide-and-seek with her cousins, memories of the sun shining on the mountains, and her hardest of all to leave, her Abuela. Instead, when she arrived, Areli heard the ugliness of children who called her "illegal" and made her feel ashamed because she could not yet read English. (She had learned to write the alphabet in kindergarten back in Mexico.) Areli learned to fear that she would be separated from her family and sent away. So she worked hard to learn her lessons in English. She wanted to become part of something bigger and help other children who too had come to Nueva York. Areli Morales is a DACA recipient who has stepped out to tell her story. Sometimes the story lingers on a moment; sometimes the story jumps a bit. I'm glad though that she has told this story. The illustrations are absolutely lovely and really add heart to the telling.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    It's good to learn other's stories and special to tell your story, too. This time, for all but especially for younger readers' understanding, Areli Morales writes her own story and what it means to be a DACA. Her parents were already in New York City while she and her brother stayed with their abuela. Her brother left after a while because he was born in the US, thus is a citizen. It took longer to have Areli join them. Then she was torn, wanting to be with her family but not wanting to miss he It's good to learn other's stories and special to tell your story, too. This time, for all but especially for younger readers' understanding, Areli Morales writes her own story and what it means to be a DACA. Her parents were already in New York City while she and her brother stayed with their abuela. Her brother left after a while because he was born in the US, thus is a citizen. It took longer to have Areli join them. Then she was torn, wanting to be with her family but not wanting to miss her abuela and all that was "home" to her then. As her time in NYC moves along, she learns English and begins to love that city, too. You'll see that the change is bittersweet and now Arelia remains in limbo, though President Obama created the DACA program, it remains in contention. With good explanations by Morales and terrific illustrations of scenes and people showing the extremes of emotions by Luisa Uribe, it's a story everyone should know. I'm grateful that Areli Morales has written it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    The artwork has gorgeous colors and switches between one and two page spreads. The text is a bit small, but is nicely placed. The pacing is a bit odd - spending longer on some moments than others. But the reason it works out well is that although this is an immigration story, it's not focused on the trauma of the actual crossing. This book doesn't focus on checkpoints, or hot deserts, or other horrors that are witnessed by those seeking a better life. Instead, the reader is invited to think about The artwork has gorgeous colors and switches between one and two page spreads. The text is a bit small, but is nicely placed. The pacing is a bit odd - spending longer on some moments than others. But the reason it works out well is that although this is an immigration story, it's not focused on the trauma of the actual crossing. This book doesn't focus on checkpoints, or hot deserts, or other horrors that are witnessed by those seeking a better life. Instead, the reader is invited to think about the personal losses immigrants face when trying to create a better life for themselves - even if those who are affected are young and don't always realize it at first.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This book was mesmerizing to me, an adult, as to how it captured the real-life childhood immigration experience of the author. The illustrations were very captivating and detailed and helped tell the story, contrasting life in Mexico and in New York City. It hit upon topics such as bullying and xenophobia in a way that is easy to understand for children. Now-a-days it is important for immigrants, especially DREAMERs to be open about their status to raise awareness to the cause. This book does th This book was mesmerizing to me, an adult, as to how it captured the real-life childhood immigration experience of the author. The illustrations were very captivating and detailed and helped tell the story, contrasting life in Mexico and in New York City. It hit upon topics such as bullying and xenophobia in a way that is easy to understand for children. Now-a-days it is important for immigrants, especially DREAMERs to be open about their status to raise awareness to the cause. This book does that and I can't wait for other kids to read it and be aware of peers who may be experiencing a similar situation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    Areli tells her truth simply and beautifully in this children's book, opening a conversation for all ages on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and immigrants. The color and illustrations are beautiful. The Spanish words have English translations in the back of the book. I love the way Areli tells her story - some moments get a longer spread than others, the same way some memories stand out bigger and more influential than others. The story stops soon after a grade school visit to Ellis Areli tells her truth simply and beautifully in this children's book, opening a conversation for all ages on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and immigrants. The color and illustrations are beautiful. The Spanish words have English translations in the back of the book. I love the way Areli tells her story - some moments get a longer spread than others, the same way some memories stand out bigger and more influential than others. The story stops soon after a grade school visit to Ellis Island, making it a good starting point instead of a story with a firm ending, just like real life - the end of a chapter, not the end of the story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Areli Es Una Dreamer by Areli Morales is a picture book about a young girl who's parents are living and working in the United States. Areli lives with her older brother and grandmother. This book describes Areli's life in Mexico and what it is like for her to not have her parents. She finds out that her brother will be leaving to stay with their parents. This book is written extremely well and it does a great job of describing Areli's experience with the United States. I read the Spanish transla Areli Es Una Dreamer by Areli Morales is a picture book about a young girl who's parents are living and working in the United States. Areli lives with her older brother and grandmother. This book describes Areli's life in Mexico and what it is like for her to not have her parents. She finds out that her brother will be leaving to stay with their parents. This book is written extremely well and it does a great job of describing Areli's experience with the United States. I read the Spanish translation which makes this book more powerful than what an English translation could. I definitely recommend this book for 3rd grade and up.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Keeley

    This book serves as a window into a life in Mexico for kindergartener Areli. There is Spanish vocabulary throughout the text as well as references to traditional Mexican dishes and games. The plot includes some big emotions for such a young girl relating to immigration and family. This is a true story that includes coping with moving away, encountering bullying, growing into two cultures, and feeling comfortable with one's self. The only thing I did not like about this book was that twice the au This book serves as a window into a life in Mexico for kindergartener Areli. There is Spanish vocabulary throughout the text as well as references to traditional Mexican dishes and games. The plot includes some big emotions for such a young girl relating to immigration and family. This is a true story that includes coping with moving away, encountering bullying, growing into two cultures, and feeling comfortable with one's self. The only thing I did not like about this book was that twice the author mentions that there is "no future" for our main character in Mexico. I feel that this put an unnecessary bad light on Mexico.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dina

    An autobiography, so rare to find one written for children! This book surprised me, the simple language and straightforward approach in what life is like for a dreamer--from the family being separated, one child at a time arriving in the United States, having to learn a new language, her experiences of being made fun of, to finally understanding why her family wanted to come to the United States to live. Very well done! Two thumbs up!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Renee (LazyDayLit)

    Written by a DACA Recipient, this beautifully illustrated picture book memoir is the true story of Areli Morales, who was born in Mexico but whose parents and older brother are American citizens. Areli lives with her grandmother in Mexico but is eventually take to America to live with her family in New York where she learns English and becomes as American as the people around her. A beautiful story!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jj

    I wish this had been told in first-person narrative instead of the third-person, because that made it feel... detached. This one would be great in a classroom as a conversation-starter about immigration and would work very well with many other accessible and relatable books about the subject that have been published in recent years.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Beautifully shares an important perspective on immigration and the lives of Dreamers and their families. Afternoon Summer Sara read of a new treasure trove of picturebooks purchased from an indie bookstore on our recent anniversary trip—part 2. This time I added it to my to do list!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

    A true, moving story of a Mexican family trying to find a better life in America. I think this book will shock some of my students, learning that sometimes parents and children are separated for many years, and the difficulties of traveling to the US. A timely and important book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    I love that Morales doesn't feel the need to take her story "all the way" to now. It opens up a conversation about DACA and people without documents while still showing Areli as a child just like any child who would be reading the book. I love that Morales doesn't feel the need to take her story "all the way" to now. It opens up a conversation about DACA and people without documents while still showing Areli as a child just like any child who would be reading the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    Beautiful illustrations, and the author’s note at the beginning of the book gives a brief description of the DACA program and what it has meant for her. There is also a glossary at the back of the book with translations of the Spanish phrases found sprinkled throughout the book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    S

    If you need to have a gentle conversation about the mire of American immigration issues with someone who is young, this book will do you. It's the true account of Areli Morales' journey to America. Definitely a good add to collections - and good for 'in the news' displays. If you need to have a gentle conversation about the mire of American immigration issues with someone who is young, this book will do you. It's the true account of Areli Morales' journey to America. Definitely a good add to collections - and good for 'in the news' displays.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Such an important book for everyone to read to serve as a window into a DACA recipient's life. Beautiful story by Areli Morales. I think this would be a great classroom read aloud to elementary and up, and a good story for families to share, too. Such an important book for everyone to read to serve as a window into a DACA recipient's life. Beautiful story by Areli Morales. I think this would be a great classroom read aloud to elementary and up, and a good story for families to share, too.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nessa

    Ages: 5+ Topics: Immigrating to a new county, leaving family behind This was such a great story about a young girl leaving Mexico to be reunited with her family in America. It is a bit longer but is great for kids in K/1st grade - 2nd.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    An important and powerful book through the eyes of a child immigrating to the United States from Mexico without legal papers. The book is mild in that the journey is not described in detail but the uncertainty and fear are present. The ending is undetailed and hopeful,

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan Dunn

    I hear Areli speak at ALA. Such a powerful story. This would make a great discussion book for all ages.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Undocumented immigrants face many challenges, and this book does a great job of showing the emotions and experiences of an undocumented child in a kid-friendly and appropriate way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    4 stars for this fictionalized account of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Incredibly touching.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alejandra Bran (BlueMind)

    Oh man that abuela part made cry! Loved it

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Caufman

    The story of a little girl in Mexico who waits for her time to unite with her family in New York and her dreams for her life in her new country.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    powerful!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Linda Atkinson

    biography, dreamer, conversation starter

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Jacobs

    Beautiful illustrations and a good introductory book to DACA and immigration.

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