Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Love. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press

All June Picks

For Elementary Readers

Julián Is a Mermaid

After seeing three women spectacularly dressed up as mermaids, Julián makes his own mermaid costume from Abuela’s curtain and potted fern. What will she think of the mess—and of Julián the mermaid?

Apply in the Classroom

The joy of pretend and dress up activates imaginations and exercises language skills. When kids pretend to be other people, they are experimenting with new ideas and behaviors and exploring the elements of identify.

This can be a strong lesson in empathy. Have students talk about the expression “walking in someone else’s shoes.” Ask students to think about how they can use their imaginations to learn about and understand the experiences of others. Have them generate a list of “shoes to walk in,” research a related issue, and come up with ways they can communicate their new understanding.  

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

How would you describe yourself? What makes you you?

What makes you happy: What do you do? Who are you with? How do you feel?

How do you like to or want to express yourself?

Does what other people say about how you express yourself affect how you express yourself?

How do you feel when you make your own choices without wondering what others will say?

Do you have a special friend who you feel comfortable just ‘being yourself’ around? What

are some of the things you like to do together?

How do you describe yourself? How do your friends and family describe you?

Related Teaching Resources

Jessica Love on The Children’s Book Podcast

I Can Do Anything lesson plan from Scholastic

Identity Self-Portraits activity from Teaching Tolerance

Our Selves, Our Classroom, Our Families video from the Teaching Channel

Reading Is Fundamental support materials

What I Am from Sesame Street and Will.I.Am

More Titles to Try

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Hat by Paul Hoppe

Sparkle Boy by Lesléa Newman

Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza

Jamela’s Dress by Niki Daly

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon

Bee-Wigged by Cece Bell

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina by Monica Brown

My Colors, My World / Mis colores, mi mundo by Maya Christina Gonzalez


Books to Support Nonbinary and Transgender Youth

Join NEA President Lily Eskelsen García and Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David Jazz as they read Read Across America recommended books Julian is a  Mermaid and I am Jazz to celebrate the Jazz and Friends National Day of School and Community Reading.

Watch now