Great Literature Inspires Great Writing: The House on Mango Street & My Name

By Ivy Waite

As a student teacher one of my mentor teachers gave me the book The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I have since used this short, incredible piece innumerable times in my humanities classroom with students from grades seven to twelve. This book found it’s way into grade nine humanities classrooms this year when I introduced it to my teaching partner Jaime…

We decided to begin our Identity unit with a lesson involving Mango Street that I have used multiple times, with great success. In the lesson My Name, students read Sandra Cisneros’ exemplary vignette exploring her name from Mango Street to inspire them to consider the nature of their own names, and write their own vignettes. In the past I have simply read the story and then set students loose to “go research” their own names. This year, Jaime suggested that we use this assignment as an opportunity to review the inquiry process and have students write 10 strong inquiry questions to guide their explorations. I must admit that this step made a HUGE difference in terms of the depth that the students went to…

Listen to Sandra Cisneros tell the story behind her incredible piece, and pick up the 25th Anniversary edition with a new introduction from the author. (Hard to believe it is already nearing it’s 28th anniversary!)

If you have not read “The House on Mango Street”, run and read it today! The rich description, figurative language, attention to detail, and strong emotions make it an invaluable work in any humanities classroom…


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