Dinner Table Talks create the opportunity for families to have important conversations centered around books. These discussions will build our capacity for talking about race and define our roles in fighting against both every day and systemic racism.
In Julián is a Mermaid, it’s a hot summer in the city, and Julián and his abuela are going for a swim. While walking down the street, Julián notices three people dressed as mermaids, and he quietly whispers to his abuela that he, too, is a mermaid. Upon returning home and with the image of the three mermaids still in his mind, Julián decides to become the lovely mermaid that he knows he is, but when his abuela walks in to find him, he wonders what she is thinking. Filled with vibrant, radiant imagery and a heartfelt message that reminds readers that there is beauty in everyone and that beauty should always be valued by others, this is a picture book that readers of all ages will love.
Love is everywhere, and love is beautiful in the sequel to Julián is a Mermaid. Excited to attend and be part of a wedding, Julián and his abuela are elegantly dressed and fit perfectly with the soft, floral décor of the wedding. Julián later meets another child that is part of the wedding party, Marisol, who is also beautifully dressed. The two, with a sweet pup in tow, embark on a magical adventure, that leads to slight changes in wardrobe but does not change the heart of the story….That love is joyful, beautiful, and always to be celebrated.
Guidelines for Discussion
Be open and honest--even when it's hard.
Understand your own prejudice and bias.
Embrace other cultures or races by reading books, watching movies and going to community events.
Celebrate yourself and your own cultural identity.
Don't shy away from conversations about race. Talking is how you build capacity for anti-racism.
Acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them.
It's okay not to know the answer. Look for it together.
What was your favorite illustration or favorite part of the stories?
What happens in Julián’s mermaid dream?
Abuela means “grandmother” in Spanish. Julián and his grandmother have a special relationship.Can you share something about your relationship with your grandmother (or someone who is like a grandmother to you)?
Julián says that he is a mermaid. Have you ever wanted to be a mermaid, a dragon, a unicorn or something else entirely?
Why do you think that some people feel that boys can’t be mermaids and girls can’t be knights?
Have you ever been to or been in a wedding? What was your favorite part of the experience?
If you could dress up for a special party right now, what would you wear? Would you want to wear a flowered headband like Julián or fairy wings like Marisol?
“A wedding is a party for love.” Look back through both books. Where do you see love?
Older Children (3rd Grade & Older)
Looking at both books, do you have a favorite character, image or moment in the stories?
What words would you use to describe Julián’s mermaid dream? How do you think he feels in the dream?
Black and Latinx mermaids are not often characters in children’s books. Why do you think they are left out? How do you think Julián felt seeing mermaids that look like him?
Have you ever seen or gotten to take part in an event like the mermaid parade? What was the event? How did you feel seeing or taking part in it?
What are your favorite clothes to wear? What makes those clothes your favorites?
In each story, there is a moment where Julián checks in with his grandmother to see how she will react. How does she react and how do you think that impacts Julián?
Do you think it’s hard to dress in a way that’s different? Do you think that people make judgments and perhaps, even comments? What could you do when you hear someone making a negative comment about how someone dresses or chooses to express themselves?
If you're feeling inspired by Julián and his abuela, create your own fabulous mermaid outfits. And what look would be complete without a Mermaid Crown (courtesy of thealohahut.com)?
Want to continue the conversation? Need more resources about race?
Take a look at the following booklist for more great books to share: