A Letter From Peter H. Reynolds
To my fellow happy dreamers!
I wrote Happy Dreamer for kids — and grown-up kids — like me.
This really is my story — a peek inside my brain. Perhaps you will recognize the boy in this book. A boy with lots of energy, a daydreamer, a free spirit with a wandering mind, wild and wonderful. He might remind you of a child in your life, or a student . . . or even yourself.
With Happy Dreamer, I want to send out a message of hope to kids that they will succeed because of their wonderful, unique brain — not in spite of it. Dreamers have a gift. Their minds are very special — capable of being flexible, generous, nimble, and inventive. I want to remind readers that this kind of thinking is to be nurtured, accommodated, and CELEBRATED!
Growing up, I was a dreamer. I had a supercharged imagination that kept my brain very, very busy. SO many ideas — which was probably the impetus for me grabbing a pencil and starting to capture these thoughts and images on paper with words and art.
Outside of school, it really wasn’t a problem. I grew up in a big family of seven, and while all of us roamed the house with chores and hobbies, we always came together at the table to eat and share stories. Being a family of immigrants with our extended families far, far away, we also formed our own extended family-ish, and friends streamed through the house as well. It was noisy and I loved it that way. All that energy and buzz fueled our home.
In school, however, it was a different story. I found it a bit of a shock to stay still — in one chair for most of the day. Learning to focus on the lessons was sometimes a big challenge for me. I was not encouraged to capture any of my racing thoughts on paper. I was, in fact, discouraged from doing it. I did my best to comply and control my buzzy-brain. It was not always easy.
Every so often, I found a teacher or an activity that tapped into that special brain of mine — and WHOA! It was magic. I was in my element. It was an AMAZING, DELIGHTFUL feeling. I was HAPPY. A HAPPY DREAMER. My Dreamer Brain was “doing its thing”—and I was ME.
I hope this book speaks to you, your family and friends. May it reassure you that good things are ahead for all us dreamers. We dreamers may, in fact, be the ones who will solve some of the planet’s biggest problems with our inventive, flexible minds. And, in fact, I do believe that if we are to — we can’t keep trying the same solutions. And if this book encourages you, my readers, to simply be happy with your amazing, delightful, happy dreamer selves, then I’ll sleep — and dream — happily at night.
About the Book
Happy Dreamer is a poetic and lyrical tribute to individuality, celebrating the different ways we all think, learn, and dream, presented honestly and tenderly through the brilliant words and art of Peter H. Reynolds. Reynolds offers readers an intimate window into one active, highly imaginative child’s adventure along the path of creativity. In this universal celebration of expression, our happy dreamer soars to great heights, surviving the bumps along the way, and discovers new ways to share his inner feelings and follow his happiest dreams.
This empowering picture book reminds children of how much their dreams matter and encourages readers to stay true to who they are, to tap into their most creative inner selves, and to never ever forget to dream big.
About the Author
Peter H. Reynolds is the award-winning author and illustrator of The Dot and Ish. He is also the illustrator of many bestselling books, including Someday by Alison McGhee, the bestselling Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald, and Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Reynolds is the founder of FableVision Learning, an educational media company creating creativity tools to inspire students to imagine, write, and create. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he also started his own independent bookstore over a decade ago called The Blue Bunny. For more information on Peter, visit him at www.peterhreynolds.com.
Activites for the Classroom and Beyond
Be Free to Be You
In Happy Dreamer, many of Peter Reynolds's affirmative statements begin with the word, "Be..."
- Be you x 2.
- Be just a bit braver than you were planning to be.
- Be compassionate.
As a class, brainstorm positive adjectives or phrases that describe desirable behaviors in a person. Create a chart listing these behaviors as an acrostice using the alphabet.
- affectionate, astounding
- bright, bubbly, bouncy
- clever, creative
When the brainstorming activity is finished, ask each student to select five adjectives from the list that are meaningful to them, or create their own, and use them to decorate either a real t-shirt they can wear or pages with a t-shirt outline (which can be cut out and displayed as if the shirts are hanging on a clothesline). CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.1.8; L.1.1.J; L.1.1.F; L.1.6
Show the World Who You Are
After reading Happy Dreamer, use the poster on the reverse to make connections between the book and your students. Ask each student to write their name on sticker and place it closest to the dreamer that they identify with at that moment. Explain that there is no right or wrong answer, just a feeling about right now.
Ask the students questions that require them to look at their sticker placement as data. "How many people voted today?" "How many students chose each type of dreamer?" Ask them to count the number of students who identified as two dreamer types and to use those two numbers to write an addition problem. As a group, compare and contrast the kinds of dreamers. (e.g. How might a "daydreamer" and a "peaceful dreamer" be the same? How would they be different?)
Repeat the same poster activity the following day. Ask the students, "Did you put your sticker in the same place? Why? Did you choose a different dreamer? Why? Have the results changed? How?" Encourage further math problems (addition or subtractio) to show the change in results. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.1.7; L.1.5.D; CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.OA.A.1
Write About Your Dreams
Collaborate with your students to create a "Happy Dreamer" classroom corner. Brainstorm a list of reasons to have such a space and items that would be appropriate to have there. Supplies that you can suggest or offer as a teacher might be the Happy Dreamer poster and book, pillows, clipboards, and writing and drawing supplies. Additional classroom corner items might be:
- A Happy Dreamer journal for each dreamer in the class
- Writing prompts inspired by Happy Dreamer (e.g. "A colorful dreamer might draw..." "A quiet dreamer might hear..." "What do you think 'creative chaos' looks like?" "This is my list of treaures...")
- Speech bubbles and quote bubbles printed out on paper for the students to write and share some of their thoughts about happiness and dreaming
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.2; W.1.1; L.1.2.D and E; RI.1.10; CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.1.G.A.2 and 3; 2.G.A.3
Share Your Dream
Introduce the book Happy Dreamer by showwing the wraparound cover and reading the title. Ask students to brainstorm what they think the book might be about. What is a dreamer? Why might he be happy? Read Happy Dreamer out loud. After the story has been read, follow up by asking students to decide what kind of dreamer they are today. They can choose one or a few examples! Introduce the activity page where they can draw and write about the kind of dreamer they are. Post the completed worksheets on a bulletin board (possibly before parent/teacher conferences) or turn them into a classroom book. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.2; L.1.2.E; L.1.6
Good Things Ahead
Make copies of the Happy Dreamer fortune-teller on the printable and provide one copy to each student. Students can work in pairs to create a fortune teller. Each one of the "fortunes" in this activity can be found in the text of Happy Dreamer. This activity integrates math, reading, and a social component as students work in pairs to reveal each other's fortunes. As an independent activity, students can create additional fortune-tellers with their own affirming and positive messages.