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The House on Mango Street



Last updated Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Author: Sandra Cisneros
Illustrator: Sandra Cisneros
Date of Publication: 1991
ISBN: 0833568523
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2005

Synopsis: (from the publisher) Here is Sandra Cisnero's greatly admired and best-selling novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children and their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics even as it depicts a new American landscape. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn't want to belong - not to her run-down neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza's story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become. The San Francisco Chronicle has called The House on Mango Street "marvelous... spare yet luminous. The subtle power of Cisnero's storytelling is evident. She communicates all the rapture and rage of growing up in a modern world." It is an extraordinary achievement that will live on for years to come.

Note to readers:
•  This is a chapter book that you won?t be able to finish. Aim to read through page 57 (no need to read the introduction), and tell the children that the book will be placed into their library if they would like to check it out and read the rest. Alternately, plan to intersperse your reading with discussion, pausing as appropriate after one or two vignettes to inquire about the childrens' understanding. This is a very rich and complex book, so be sure to save plenty of time for discussion.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you like your name? Why? Does it have any special meaning?
•  What is your neighborhood like?
•  Who lives with you? Do you have a pet? Who are your friends that live close to you? What are they like?
•  What?s the difference between a metaphor and a simile?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  When asked about whether this book was fiction or biographical, the author said that "you [the reader] are Esperanza." What did she mean? Do you think the stories would have been different if Esperanza were a boy?
•  How are you different or the same as Esperanza? The other characters of the other stories?
•  Do you sometimes feel like Esperanza does? When? What do you do?
•  What is the American Dream? Is it different to different people? How?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a collage or picture of "The house on [your] street." Describe life with your family and neighbors.
•  Write a letter to Esperanza or a short story about life on your street.
•  Draw your name and put into pictures what your name means to you.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!