When Milo gets anxious, he imagines stories about the people around him. He studies their faces and conjures up images of what their lives must be like. Milo captures his imagination by drawing his visions in his sketchpad.
But could he be making correct judgements about the people he sees? Milo begins to change his thinking when he realizes one of his stories is wrong. He wonders about the quick judgments he’s made and considers different possibilities.
Milo questions what people might think of him. Can they see that he is a poet and his aunt takes good care of him? Do they know that his mother loves him very much and is incarcerated?
Milo Imagines the World is a beautiful story that opens up a conversation about bias and empathy. Illustrator Christian Robinson based Milo’s story on his own life. When Robinson felt overwhelmed as a child, drawing gave him a sense of control. His imagination opened up a world of possibilities while living in a small space without his mom.
Author Matt de la Peña does an incredible job unfolding Milo’s story. Readers first see Milo waiting for a subway train. The words describing the approaching train help readers see, feel, and hear the train as it comes to a stop. Text clues help the reader learn more about Milo as he travels. We get a full understanding of Milo by the end of the story where we read how he feels while hugging his family.
AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.2: Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by reflecting and questioning assumptions and possible misconceptions.
When looking at the cover of Milo Imagines the World, what do you suppose the story is about? I thought we would learn about a boy who aspires to be an engineer. I made this assumption because of the cityscape drawings and the pencil behind Milo’s ear. Reading Milo’s story made me realize how wrong I was with my first impression.
I fell into the same trap that Milo did in the story. I made a quick judgement about Milo just by looking at the cover of the book. Matt de la Peña wrote this book to help people like me learn to question first impressions. He wants readers to consider different possibilities with the people we see.
This lesson activity will help readers to question their first assumptions of Milo after reading Milo Imagines the World.
Begin the lesson by showing learners the cover of the book. Ask learners to share what the illustrator wants us to know about Milo. Record responses on chart paper.
Tell readers that while you read, their job is to notice new information about Milo. Learners can infer how he feels and discover his living situation. Record new information on the chart paper.
At the end of the story, learners will know more about Milo. Invite learners to reflect on how their thinking changed about Milo from the beginning of the story to the end. Discuss how Milo questioned his assumptions and considered different possibilities. Ask why it’s important to practice this reflection process when meeting new people.
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