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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music

Last updated Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Author: Margarita Engle
Illustrator: Rafael López
Date of Publication: 2015
ISBN: 0544102290
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2020

Synopsis: Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule - until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongos. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream. Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you think the girl on the cover dreaming about?


•  conga drums - a tall, conical, Afro-Cuban drum played with the hands
•  bongo drum - one of a pair of small tuned drums, played by beating with the fingers
•  timbales - a pair of single-headed, cylindrical drums joined by a frame and played with drumsticks
•  stilts - pair of upright poles with supports for the feet enabling the user to walk at a distance above the ground
•  rhythm - a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound
•  Cuba - island country 90 miles from Florida
•  whir - moving quickly with a buzzing sound

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What did the girl do to convince others she should be able to play drums?
•  What would have happened if she had given up her dream of playing drums?
•  What instruments are her sisters playing?
•  (On the last page) What is the boy in the clouds doing? (drawing) Do you think this is his dream?
•  Notice the colors on the Cuban flag. What other flags have those same colors?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw your favorite musical instrument or a band.
•  If they have an empty metal tin that previously held cookies or candy around the house they can make a drum
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

Special activities:
•  What items around the house can you drum on? Have kids ask their parents or adult in charge if they can drum on some items around the house, such as upside down plastic, metal or wooden bowl.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!