Text copyright © 2018 by Juan Felipe Herrera. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Lauren Castillo. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press.

All September Picks

For Elementary Readers


This beautiful free verse memoir invites you to “imagine what you could do.”

Apply in the Classroom

Inspire students to think about their interests and all the things they could do when you read aloud Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera. Help students understand that Imagine is a memoir that tells the author’s own story of growing his courage and creativity to see beyond “what is” to “what can be.” Have students do some self-reflection and create “I Am” poems that depict how they feel and think about themselves. Then, help students give voice to their aspirations by:

  • having them write poems in the style of Imagine that share what they would like to be or do
  • inviting parents, other students, and special guests to hear students read their poems
  • having them share books that have helped them discover their own voices and develop their dreams.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

What experiences have made you who you are today?

What do you imagine your future will look like?

Where is your favorite place to dream and imagine? What does it look like?

How can you make what you imagine come true?

Related Teaching Resources

Juan Felipe Herrera reads “Imagine”

Classroom Bookshelf activities to compare Imagine! and Imagine

Colorin Colorado video interview with Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera author study guide from Lee & Low

More Titles to Try

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

Dreamers by Yuji Morales

Imagine! by Raúl Colón

What If… by Samantha Berger

My Chinatown: One Year in Poems by Kam Mak

The Upside Down Boy/El niño de cabeza by Juan Felipe Herrera