What Will You Be? Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Career Opportunities
by Yamile Saied Mendez: A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to explore the power of listening to your inner voice and the difference we can make when we open ourselves up to generosity and a beautiful vision of a better world.


When adults ask children what they want to be when they grow up, children often don't know a career direction yet. They may name careers or aspirations based on the role models they see. This book explores the question "What Will You Be?" with generous, curious, and loving role models rather than those who hold specific jobs. The book and discussion help readers follow their inner voice and envision a bountiful and beautiful world.

Core Philanthropy Theme: Volunteerism and service action are more meaningful and fun when they are related to personal interests and talents. Trust your inner voice to increase self-awareness and guide you to learn more about your community.  

Before Reading

Connect: When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, where do you get your ideas?  

Show: Look at the details on the cover. Describe the feelings and relationships of the story. Why are the child and Abuela pointing up in the sky? What do you think they are talking about?

Ask: What do you think young people need to learn about themselves or the world before deciding what they will be?

During Reading

Show: Show the page on which the child is thinking about being an astronaut, unicorn, and clown. Are these typical things people grow up to be? What do these answers tell you about the child?

Ask: Why do you think the other children don't believe that answer and say, "What will you really be"? Do you believe those things are what the child really wants? Why do you think that?

Connect: Talk about the way Abuela tells the child to listen and closes her eyes. What is Abuela trying to do? Try this method and listen to your own quiet voice as you ask, "What will I be?" What thoughts and feelings come up? The word abuela is Spanish for grandma. What names do you call your grandparents? Where did the names come from?

After Reading

Show: Look closely at the different worlds the child creates with words and pictures. What do you think of that vision?

Ask: What will you be? What skills, talents, and actions will you contribute to a better world? What do you mean when you say, "I will be me"?

Connect: What can each of us do to make a world like the child imagines? Abuela says, "Many hands can work miracles." Imagine your hands are part of that. 


  1. Describe in words, pictures, poetry, song, or drama what you would like to do or be in your future. What things do you love that will make up being you? Is it books and gardens? Knowledge and peace? What does it mean to be you today and in the future?
  2. Draw a colorful and beautiful world with people working together on the things you value. 
  3. Paint colorful skies with stars and add your favorite things.
  4. Create a journal or digital album of photos, drawings, and words that describe "being you." Share it with friends, family, and teachers to talk about and expand.
  5. Meet with others who have descriptions of who they will be. Talk about what we need to be and do together to make a better world. 
  6. Find different ways to volunteer to get a sense of what you like to do and what needs you like to address. (Add your volunteering observations to your journal.)