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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 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.

40 pages, Library Binding

First published June 8, 2021

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Areli Morales

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 105 reviews
Profile Image for nitya.
363 reviews270 followers
March 25, 2023
Lovely and important story!! The illustrations were my favorite

Content warning: racism
5,870 reviews130 followers
July 30, 2021
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.
39 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Neha Thakkar .
418 reviews10 followers
October 19, 2021
Pair with I Wish You Knew, immigration discussions, sharing circles and morning meetings. Focus: empathy, compassion, communication, and understanding
Profile Image for Sarina-Soren.
873 reviews38 followers
November 8, 2021
I need to know more of Areli’s story! I don’t know much about DACA and I wish this told the story of how she became a DACA recipient and what that means to her, but hopefully that’s a story for another book!

If you enjoy the art, I was excited to learn that this has the same illustrator as Your Name Is a Song, another beautiful and inclusive picture book.
Profile Image for Sasa.
252 reviews117 followers
March 27, 2023
4.5 stars

if i didn't read the author's note at the beginning, i wouldn't have known this was about a DACA recipient. as far as children's books go, it's good but i don't think children will learn what it means to be a DACA recipient nor anything about the experience so having this revolve around that while never touching on it is a moot point. i'm wondering if someone higher up at random house kept this from being more because it wouldn't show the american government in a positive light (as it shouldn't). i would have liked to have a book to show kids that explains what it means to be a DACA recipient and/or trying to become one and the experience. i think that would've been a great way for areli is a dreamer to reach its full potential.
21 reviews
November 20, 2021
“Areli is a Dreamer” is by Areli Morales and it is a true story about her experience as an undocumented immigrant. The story begins with Areli and her brother living in Mexico with their grandmother. Their parents were living and working in the United States. Areli’s brother was born in the United States so he was going to get to leave and live with their parents first. The parents would call every Sunday night to check on the children. Areli loved living in Mexico even after her brother left to live with their parents. Then the day came when a man came to take Areli to the United States to live with her parents. Areli and her family were joined together in New York. At first Areli’s experience in New York was not positive. Students in her school called her illegal, and she didn’t feel like she fit in because she only spoke Spanish. However, she worked hard and soon became proficient in English and loved school. It wasn’t until her class took a field trip to Ellis Island where she learned that living in New York was going to provide her with so many opportunities.

Immigration and the life of families living apart, before being joined together, is a very prominent aspect of the plot line. There are many aspects of this story that can be beneficial for students who come to America undocumented and for their peers in their classes. The whole experience Areli goes through from living in Mexico and not wanting to leave to moving to New York and trying to fit in at school can be a great mirror for some students. There is a part of this story that seems very important when Areli’s mom tries to tell her what illegal means. While the mother gives her a very basic definition, I can see how this part of the story might bring up other questions in the minds of students in similar situations. The part of this story that provides a window is when Areli starts to go to school in New York. This part of the story could bring up valuable discussion points on how Areli is feeling and what students in the current classroom could do to help other students with that similar situation to feel welcome. While this story only shows the side of Areli, I see how it would be a valuable book to use in the classroom. The discussions that can take place about looking at a situation from a different point of view and how to act would be important.
25 reviews1 follower
April 27, 2022
Areli is a Dreamer is a true story where the author Areli recalls her journey from Mexica to New York. As well as what it's like to be a DACA Dreamer in the United States. I thought this book is great and very relevant to the times we live in currently. I think this story does a great job of both explainings how difficult it can be to be a Dreamer or immigrant but also the joys that come along with it. I think one of my favorite aspects was the book never stated that Areli was leaving Mexico because she lived a horrible life. In fact, her life in Mexico was quite normal and something she loved, her parents just believed she would have a better future in the U.S. I think this is great for changing the narrative that most American carry about immigrants.
I think this book should be read to older children. This book is quite long for children's books and covers a lot of heavy topics with heavy emotions. However, I did really love the illustrations and how the book incorporated some Spanish vocab. I love how realistic and raw this book was.
Want to read
February 4, 2022
Text-to Teaching Connection (Writing): Before reading the book I will ask the students: What do you think the book might be about?

Next: These are some questions that my motivated class will explore and discuss after reading this book. What have other people done to make you feel welcome? What did you say or do to make others feel welcome when they were new? What can you do differently to make others feel welcome and accepted? If you are an Immigrant, what similarities and differences do you have with Areli's story?

Finally, using their Chromebook, students will match the words with their meaning. For example, welcoming= treating someone in a friendly way when they are new.
5,096 reviews71 followers
November 28, 2021
Tells the story of a six year old girl who reluctantly leaves all she knows in Mexico to join her immediate family in NYC. She has her fears, faces taunting, and the difficulty of learning a new language. However, over the years she acclimates and learn to love her new country. After a trip to Ellis Island she realizes that she is part of a larger history: as the tour guide says "Almost every one of us has family that came to this country from a foreign land."

Written by a DACA recipient.
Profile Image for Cathy.
360 reviews3 followers
February 9, 2022
Beautiful illustrations guide young readers through the life experience of Areli as a young undocumented immigrant living in New York. It covers family separation, uncertainty, struggles to adapt to her new home and environment, her dedication to overcome obstacles, and the hopes she had for her future. I just wish the story included how Areli went on to become a DACA recipient and the life she leads now (in addition to the brief mention in the Author’s Note).
November 28, 2022
A great example of a biography is Areli Is a Dreamer. This book is about a young girl that explains how she went to America to join her family. Areli has trouble adjusting to America. She does not understand why her classmates call her mean names. I can use this book to teach children how many immigrants have trouble adjusting to life in America. This book is a WOW book because many children many not understand the struggles that immigrant children have.

The author used Areli's perspective to show how she thinks and feels. At first Areli didn't understand why she had to come to America. Then she understood it was for a better future.
Profile Image for Colleen.
796 reviews6 followers
October 1, 2021
A well crafted picture book that shows how powerless children are and how they have to trust the adults in their lives to make the right decisions for them. It also shows how adaptable children are. I think young children will relate to it, especially if paired with other stories about moving.
Profile Image for Amanda Brooke.
924 reviews6 followers
December 22, 2021
Great book for building empathy and giving voice to many children who may be frightened by their citizenship status.
30 reviews
April 30, 2022
This book is wonderful in helping children of similar situations. This book really grasps the concept of adapting to a completely new environment, which lots of children go through.
8 reviews
April 13, 2023
Here is a summary of what happened in the book on Sundays Areli would wait for the phone to ring from her parents in America. Her parents can't go back to Mexico, her parents want to bring her to America. Her brother leaves to go to New York. Areli starts school in Mexico and makes friends and does not want to go to New York. Her Abuela tells Areli her parents send their friend to bring her to New York. Areli and her family hugged for a long time after she arrives to New York. At her new school, her classmates would tease her. She works hard in school to learn English and her school lessons. With time she realizes she can do anything in America. One of the major themes in the book was being resilient and hope as well as discrimination. The main genre of this book is and autobiography. Through reading this book, I learned about discrimination that Areli had to face because she was born in Mexico. I also learned about how hard she had to work to change her Mexican lifestyle to accommodate for an American lifestyle.

Some of the writing craft techniques that the author used in this book were descriptive language of objects and settings. An example of this was when the author uses"her shiny torch" to descriptive the statue of liberties torch. The author portrayed anti-bias perspectives in this book by writing the book about her own personal experiences. This book was about her journey to America as a Mexican and exploring all the possibilities that America has to offer.
3 reviews
September 15, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Earliana.
4 reviews
October 18, 2021
Highly recommended by Booklist Review (2021), "Areli Is A Dreamer" is the true story of a girls' immigration from Mexico to America. The story follows the titular character's journey as a young girl raised in Mexico by her Abuelita due to her Mexican American parents immigrating to America when she was. Morales, whom the story is based on, does a really great job at explaining what immigration is to a younger audience. Recommended for ages 4-8 (by Random House Publishing), Morales makes sure to note that her parents and brother were born in America; however, after her family briefly moves back to Mexico, Areli is born in Mexico. This crucial difference sets her apart from her family and makes it difficult for her to be with her family once both her parents and then her brother find a home in New York. This is where Morales really shines explaining the idea of immigration but doesn't overwhelm the reader with going into what DACA is explicitly. She actually addresses this with a detailed author's note.

The only potentially dicey concept that's illustrated in the book but not really explained is racist stereotyping after a white American classmate states, "Her mom cleans my house. She's our maid!" In the very next sentence the author writes "Areali was ashamed. She had never felt this way before." However, instead of leaning into moment by questioning why the classmate is saying this, Morales kind of avoids the topic with the very next sentence. "No te preoccupes, Areli, (Don't worry Areli)' her friends said. 'No pueden hacerte dan0(They can't hurt you.).'" It just seemed a little odd to dedicate both the text and two pages of illustration to an exchange that isn't really explained. Morales does a wonderful job detailing Areli's immigration (the main storyline) story. So much so that according to the School Library Journal, "This book could be used in a social science class highlighting Areli’s capacity to adapt and thrive as she navigates her new environment...A moving biographical picture book.”
21 reviews
May 2, 2022
"Areli Is a Dreamer" tells the true story of the author, Areli and Areli's immigration to America. Areli struggles with missing her parents who are working in America while she is not there. She leans on her brother and grandmother for support and struggles to understand why Alex, her brother, being born in America is allowed to come and go as he pleases, while she is expected to wait. When Areli finally learns that she is being given to opportunity to go to New York, she becomes scared and doesn't want to leave. Furthermore, Areli struggles with saying her good byes as she doesn't know when or if she will ever be able to see them again. This is a struggle many students face, and they will be able to relate to Areli's journey and her story.

The book continues to follow Areli's journey as she goes to America and she is hurt by students calling her "illegal" and other mean names. She begins to feel ashamed of her culture, a way she had never felt before. Areli asked her mom what children meant when they called her "illegal", a conversation many students have with their parents, and this book shows a positive facilitation of the conversation. This made Areli afraid she would be sent back and so she kept quiet about who she was and where she was from.

This book can open up a lot of discussion between students and their teacher about what immigration is and what it means to be an immigrant. There is also a lot of opportunities for students to learn about and discuss Latinx culture as well.
Profile Image for Delia Ruiz.
Author 5 books3 followers
June 24, 2021
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
Profile Image for Amanda.
3,654 reviews30 followers
August 21, 2021
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.

Profile Image for Linda .
3,703 reviews42 followers
August 30, 2021
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!
20 reviews
December 12, 2021
The book Areli Is A Dreamer: A True Story by Areli Morales, a DACA Recipient is a biography written by Areli Morales. This story is about a young girl name Areli who moves from Mexico to America. Her parents had moved to America before her and when she was in kindergarten they had her move to America as well. This book is intended for children ages four to eight. I rated this book 4 stars because as I compared the length of the book and the amount of information I feel that the intended age group should be older. Overall, the illustrations in this book further supported the text of the biography. The use of language for older children is appropriate and the plot and characters in the book are done in an organized format. This book would be appealing to young readers because of the subject and the ability to learn more about others. This book would be great to use to further explain that not everyone is from America and some people have come from other countries. It is also great to see that this book talks about the emotions behind moving to a new country and what can come from it.
227 reviews
March 28, 2022
This book has a powerful message and really makes you think about the plight of Dreamers. I thought the author's choice to tell the story from a child's perspective was very effective to communicate this. I read the English ebook version and I also listened to the Spanish audiobook version. The audiobook didn't have any illustrations (which might sound strange, but children's books often do have both sound and illustrations). The illustrations are beautiful, and I missed them in the audiobook, as they help to show the emotions of the characters and emphasize the differences between the characters' lives in Mexico versus New York City. For that reason, I'd recommend the hard copy or ebook over the audiobook. However, for someone who is learning Spanish, it is really nice to have both options.
Profile Image for Diane.
6,760 reviews
March 31, 2022
"Alex was born in America, so he can come and go. You were born here, so it's harder for you."

Areli's parents call every Sunday from the United States because Areli and her brother, Alex, live in Mexico with their abuela. Her parents have been away for so long that they sometimes feel like strangers to Areli. Alex goes to New York first. Then, one day, her parents send someone to bring Areli to the states, but she is sad to leave her abuela, her friends and the only home she has ever known. "... there is no future for you in Mexico. You don't understand now, but someday you will."

She has a joyous reunion with her family, but things aren't quite so good at her new school. But with hard work and true friends, Areli begins to understand why her parents wanted her to group up in America.

Profile Image for DC Canada Education Publishing.
22 reviews1 follower
January 31, 2023
Alright, I’m not going to lie: this one had me in tears. If you’re searching for a children’s book that addresses the hybridity of identity, the struggles of immigration, and the familial love that knows no boundaries, look no further than Areli Is a Dreamer, a true story by Areli Morales.

From the protagonist’s childhood in Mexico, waiting for her once-a-week call from her parents who live in the U.S., to her gradual integration into the hustle and bustle of New York, this book has it all. Morales perfectly captures the immigrant experience and, through her main character, asks important questions like Why can’t her parents come back to Mexico? What does citizenship give you? How can a human being be illegal?

Read the full review here: https://www.dc-canada.ca/blog/review-...
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,799 followers
March 19, 2023
I've been meaning to read Areli is a Dreamer for such a long time. I'm glad that I finally got the chance to pick it up. The picture book follows Areli as she leaves Mexico to reunite with her parents and brother in New York. When she arrives, she has trouble adjusting to the changes in the city as well as in her new school. The only thing that I wish was explored a little more is what is means to be a DACA recipient and how Areli became a DACA experience. I think that younger readers could have benefited from more information related to that whether it was woven into the text or simply added as backmatter. The artwork by Luia Uribe were absolutely beautiful. I adored the contrasting artwork that readers see when Areli is in Mexico compared to when she moves to New York. The detail and liveliness of the artwork compliments the story so well.
Profile Image for Laura.
350 reviews7 followers
June 22, 2021
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.
1 review
June 30, 2021
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.
Profile Image for Brooke.
281 reviews32 followers
July 28, 2021
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.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 105 reviews

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