April 24, 2017 8:30 am

Louellen Coker

I learned about Leslie Zimmerman’s book, Dream Big, while I was reading George W. Bush’s Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.

Dream Big by Leslie Zimmerman inspires children to dream of what they can achieve while living in the moment.

Zimmerman, an Army Sergeant, served as a medic in Kuwait and later in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She returned home with PTS and depression and was spotlighted in the former president’s book.

I was instantly intrigued due to the title alone as “Dream Big” is my personal mantra. I decided to follow the rabbit trail that led me to the book for two reasons. I’m always looking for good, inspirational books to give my nieces, nephews, and my husband’s goddaughter and this was a great contender for Easter baskets. And, it was a great opportunity to check off  the “book that’s been mentioned in another book” category of POPSUGAR’s 2017 Reading Challenge I took on this year.

I have to say, this is a lovely book. Leslie Zimmerman, who fought in Iraq, comes from a family of artists, teachers, and adventurers, creates a teachable moment for Tim Turtle when his teacher asks, “What would you like to become someday?”

Young readers are instantly taken on a flight through a whole host of professions that one may become with the cute and colorful illustrations by Paige Briscoe, Zimmerman’s sister. Professions range from a GI, fashion designer, veterinarian, baker, beekeeper and more. Children are told “The possibilities are endless, because I’m fearless.”

Dream Big is a great little book to get children thinking about what they might want to do when they grow up without forcing them to make a decision about what that might be. Zimmerman encourages them to explore and play with the professions in their dreams. Children experience a nice gentle landing from their flight of fantasy with the gentle reminder that they don’t have to make an immediate decision because, after all, they’re still just a kid. And that, in itself, is a pretty big job.

I purchased this book with my husband’s goddaughter in mind, so I’ll admit that my eyebrow was raised a bit at the more masculine end of the gender-neutral cover artwork and the male main character. Zimmerman and Briscoe do an excellent job of taking gender issues out of the way. I love that this book encourages all children to dream and explore any and all possibilities whether those possibilities fall into a typically male or female profession. And in doing so, promotes the freedom to do what one loves rather than what one should do based on societal pressures coming from any direction.

Leslie Zimmerman’s Dream Big is a fabulous book to have on your child’s bookshelf. Reading it together allows you to start the important conversation about what your child might want to be when he or she grows up in a non-pressured way. It’s a great opportunity to lay the ground work for making good grades and planting the seeds for whatever further learning may be required for whatever the child wants to do.

Have you had a chance to read the book? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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