by Li-Young Lee
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
- Amy Tan
In “Fish Cheeks,” which is about a Chinese American girl who feels embarrassed by her family during dinner, Tan explores how culture can be essential to a person’s identity.Pair “Fish Cheeks” with “I Ask My Mother To Sing” and ask students to further discuss the experiences of children whose parents immigrated. Why might the narrators feel differently about their family’s traditions in each text? How do they relate differently to their backgrounds?
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
- Langston Hughes
The speaker in this famous Langston Hughes poem uses symbolism to explain the connection they feel between their ancestry and identity.Pair “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” with “I Ask My Mother to Sing” and ask students to discuss how one’s ancestral history is a part of their identity. How are the speakers impacted by the history of their family and ancestors? Why does this affect each speaker’s identity?
- Nikki Giovanni
In Nikki Giovanni’s “Legacies,” a girl’s grandmother wants to teach her a recipe.Pair “I Ask My Mother To Sing” with “Legacies” and ask students to discuss how both poems depict how tradition and knowledge are passed down in families. What is the significance of passing ideas down to younger generations? How do the young characters in both poems respond to this tradition?
- Lisa Papademetriou
In Lisa Papademetriou’s short story “Blue-Sky Home” a girl’s struggles to get her grandfather to accept that she identifies as an American.Pair “I Ask My Mother to Sing” with “Blue-Sky Home” and ask students to discuss how the speakers feel about their family’s home countries. Why might Li-Young Lee and Phoebe not feel as connected to China and Greece as their older relatives? How do students think this impacts their identity?
- Kim Roberts
In “Vilna,” a speaker grapples with the intergenerational pain rooted in their grandparents’ birthplace: a city that was home to a vibrant Jewish community World War II.Pair “Vilna” with “I Ask My Mother to Sing” and ask students to compare how the speakers in the two poems engage with their own family histories. How have family elders communicated their experiences and memories to the speakers? What role does the imagination play in the descriptions of Vilna and Beijing?