Er träumt von Amerika

Book Title Er träumt von Amerika
(He Dreams About America)
Author(s) Julie Young
Illustrator(s) Robert Matsudaira
Other Contributors Carol Gaab, Brigitte Kahn
Published by Fluency Matters
Publication date 2019
Genre History and Biographies
#Ownvoices N/A
From the author/publisher’s website
Level 1

Total Word Count

Illustrations                    YES 
Glossary                          YES
Guiding Questions       NO  
Context                            YES  

Races, Ethnicities, and Nationalities
white Austrian
white German
white American

Languages spoken

Sex and Genders
Male – main character


Social classes
Working class
Sexual Orientation



Family Structures

Body Type

From the author/publisher’s website 

Philanthropist, businessman, politician, activist, author, filmmaker, Hollywood actor, and international sensation, Arnold Schwarzenegger actually began his extensive career in a different country and in a different arena all together.
Find out where and how Arnie launched his first of many careers. His story is sure to inspire and surprise you!

To what extent do the illustrations present positive and thoughtful representations of identities?

The illustrations reflect Arnold’s goal of becoming the strongest man on earth, depicting his bodybuilding training and competition.  The illustrations show tame depictions of bodybuilding aesthetics.

We understand identities are complex and no single story represents the spectrum of identity-based experiences. Also, a text may address a stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization without relying on it.

Does any stereotype, misrepresentation, or generalization affect any positive and thoughtful representations of identities in the text?

This section is for teachers who are working towards sourcing more texts within the four domains of anti-bias education. We are excited about reading all books and we understand that not all books are written for this specific purpose. 

Does this text work toward goals within any of the four domains of anti-bias education as defined by Teaching Tolerance

This short book tells the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger before he was an international movie star and politician. We learn about his upbringing in Austria, his dream of becoming the strongest man on Earth, and the people who made it possible by supporting him along the way.

There are two versions of the story, both in language suitable for a late level one or a level two language course: one in the present tense and one in the spoken past (das Perfekt). Additionally, at the end of each chapter, there is a short cultural note in German and in English that provide historical and cultural context to the story, from post WWII living conditions in Europe (p. 4) to the mandatory military service of Austrian males (p. 19).  Schwarzenegger enjoys many positive relationships with adult mentors throughout the story, starting from his PE teacher at school, Herr Kraft (p. 8) to his mentor Joe Weider, a famous bodybuilder from the United States who puts Schwarzenegger at ease by allowing him to use “du” with him (p. 32).  Additionally, Schwarzenegger shows great perseverance in pursuit of his bodybuilding goals.  He navigates a negative relationship to his father (p. 6), issues with finding money to pursue his goals (pgs. 2, 18, 22), and the need to build his proficiency in English to thrive in London (p. 27).

Teachers are encouraged to explore with their students Schwarzenegger’s motivations for bodybuilding and wanting large muscles (p. 9), as well as his reasons for idealizing the United States (pgs. 4, 34).  Care may also be taken in dealing with Schwarzenegger’s troubled relationship to his father, who tends to belittle Schwarzenegger and his aspirations (p. 6).

2 thoughts on “Er träumt von Amerika

  1. Bettina Albermann June 8, 2021 — 2:39 pm

    My students and I enjoyed the book. We found the storyline and learning about Schwarzenegger’s childhood very interesting. My students were in level 3 and read the past tense version, but the present tense version should work well for level 2 or even advanced level 1 students. I definitely recommend the book!


    1. I am so happy your students enjoyed the book!


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