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Dream Something Big

Last updated Friday, May 11, 2012

Author: Dianna Aston
Illustrator: Susan Roth
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 0803732457
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2012

Synopsis: Between 1921 and 1955, Italian immigrant Simon Rodia transformed broken glass, seashells, pottery, and a dream to "do something big" into a U.S. National Landmark. Readers watch the towers rise from his little plot of land in Watts, California, through the eyes of a fictional girl as she grows and raises her own children. Chronicled in a stunningly detailed collage that mimics Rodia's found-object art, this thirty-four-year journey becomes a mesmerizing testament to perseverance and possibility. A final, innovative "build-your-own-tower" activity makes this multicultural, intergenerational tribute a classroom natural and a perfect gift-sure to encourage kids to follow their own big dreams.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you or someone you know built anything recently?
•  Do you have any interesting neighbors?
•  Have you ever visited the Watts Towers? Did you know they are close by?

•  Aroma: smell
•  Transform: change
•  Mortar: bowl where things are crushed
•  Batter: mixture
•  Flitting: moving quickly
•  Spotlight: center of attention
•  Weaving: to connect threads or strands
•  Deed: a document

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What did Uncle Sam use to build his towers?
•  How did people's views of Uncle Sam change? What do you think of him?

Craft ideas:
•  Create Your Own Watts Tower: Use pipe cleaners as the towers and decorate them using pieces of contruction paper, beads, buttons, and other materials. Example in the back of the book.

*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!