One of the first books I reviewed for this blog was Front Desk by Kelly Yang. I was thrilled to receive an advance reader’s copy of Room to Dream in the mail from Scholastic Press. This is the third book about Mia Tang and I hope there will be many more. Mia is an activist, a reporter, and a true friend to adults and children alike. Her story inspires young activists and writers around the world and it is an essential text for elementary libraries and classrooms.
In Room to Dream, Mia’s family returns to China for the first time since they immigrated to the United States and purchased the Calivista Motel with diverse members of their local community. Mia discovers that in China, just like in the United States, discrimination and economic inequality continue to play a role. However, with help from old and new friends, Mia discovers that many challenges are not insurmountable.
She brings this knowledge back to the United States and needs to use it when a large corporation tries to buy the Calivista. Money and power are no match for Mia’s creativity. However, that creativity does cause Mia some heartache in Room to Dream. When her friends learn that she has been writing about them in columns for a Chinese newspaper, they are less than impressed.
In Mia, Kelly Yang has given readers a character who is strong and wise, but also imperfect. She is learning that sometimes her greatest strengths are weaknesses when used in the wrong ways. What makes these books truly joyful is that Mia is surrounded by friends and family who love her and will always be there for her. These books are a testament to the power of community at its best. Filled with love, but constantly seeking ways to improve for the good of all its people.
Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards:
Identity 1: I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and describe our various group identities.
Diversity 10: I know that the way groups of people are treated today, and the way they have been treated in the past, is a part of what makes them who they are.
Action 17: I know it’s important for me to stand up for myself and for others, and I know how to get help if I need ideas on how to do this.