When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can't erase what you know. You can't forget who you are.


This short and powerful novel written by Sandra Cisneros is one of those books that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Written as a series of vignettes, these eloquently-written stories transport you to the world of a young girl growing up in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago. The young girl is Esperanza Cordero and her neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn't want to belong—not to her rundown 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.

This four-week class will examine the importance of The House on Mango Street in the canon of American literature and in the context of the social and cultural concerns of the time. We'll discuss concepts such as the power of language, self-identity, burgeoning sexuality, and the role of women in this society.

Students will engage in lively discussion surrounding the plot points, literary devices, and reflections on the readings for each week. Students will be expected to comment thoughtfully and respectfully on responses written by other students.

Our last week will tie together what students have learned about The House on Mango Street into a larger writing project of 500-1000 words. Here, students get to leap into the pool of literary analysis, connecting their own dots and sharing their interpretations of what they've read.

IMPORTANT: To stay in sync with the pace of the class, students should read at least half of the novel before class begins.

The House on Mango Street is an accessible, lyrical love letter to a neighborhood the narrator must leave in order to grow. Amid vivid character sketches and poetic imagery, it touches on themes of violence, abuse, and sexual assault. None of these issues are depicted in graphic detail, but we invite parents to pre-read this book in order to determine if this story is right for their family and to be prepared to discuss sensitive topics with teens.

For more information about how the classes are run, please read about online classes.

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.

Class Structure Description

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.