A Book Review & an Activity Suggestion:
In her memoir, The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros poetically writes about her life growing up in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago. Sandra writes with such rhythm and beauty. She chooses little details about her life, neighborhood, family, materialistic items and she takes the microscope to that idea and writes a vignette. We are studying the world along with Sandra through her writing.
The students can relate to Sandra’s story when the text is broken down and discussed with them. We have talked about the chapters “Those Who Don’t” and “There Was an Old Woman She Had So Many Children She Didn’t Know What to Do,” because many students can see their families or neighborhood in Cisneros’s words.
I also like to have the students read “My Name,” and we talk about what a name means to people. I will help the students research their name and the meaning and then I have the students write a poem about who they are and how their name represents them. It is very similar to the “Where I’m From” poem. The students must describe themselves with a balancing of showing and telling. I don’t want them to just tell me what their name means, but I want them to talk about little known facts of details about them that we may not know. This is great for students that have worked on the other pieces that ask them to search inside themselves. They have to look at themselves with a critical eye and think about how they can transfer what then see in their mind on to their papers.
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