Browse Content     The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

A collection of autobiographical short stories about a boy whose family moves from America to Mexico where they become migrant workers.

Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.

7th Grade Memoir 790L
America and I
Anzia Yezierska 1923
Passage Summary:

Anzia Yezierska (1880-1970) was a Jewish-American immigrant and novelist known for her writing on immigration, assimilation, and Jewish-American lives. "America and I" is Yezierska's short essay about her struggles adapting to her new country.

When and How to Pair: Have students read this memoir after finishing the chapter “Inside Out.” Have students compare and contrast the experiences of Anzia and Panchito as new immigrants. What are their views on America before arriving there? How does it contrast to the treatment they receive as non-native English speakers once they arrive? How is Anzia experiences with the Americans she meets different to Panchito’s experiences with Americans?
8th Grade Poem
Grace Chua 2003
Passage Summary:

“ICU” is a poem that explores the difficulty of understanding the loss of a loved one.

When and How to Pair: Have students read this text after they have completed the chapter “Miracle in Tent City,” to explore how setting can influence character. Ask students to compare the speaker in Chua’s poem to Panchito’s reactions in tent city. Both texts express an emotional reaction to a loved one. ICU is set at a hospital whereas Panchito only sees his ill brother at tent city. How do these different settings affect the way illness is viewed and treated?
8th Grade Poem
On Broadway
Claude McKay 1922
Passage Summary:

Claude McKay was a civil rights activist and Jamaican American writer. In “On Broadway” (1922), a speaker longingly looks at a bright city scene from which he feels isolated.

When and How to Pair: Have students read this poem after finishing the chapter “El Angel De Oro,” in order to generate a discussion on how isolation can be illustrated in different ways. Ask students to compare the surroundings and different feelings of the speaker in the poem to how Panchito feels at the end of “El Angel De Oro.” Francisco is alone with the fish by the end of the chapter, but the speaker in “On Broadway” appears to be surrounded by people and movement. Ask students to compare these different versions of loneliness.
5th Grade Short Story 910L
Sandra Cisneros 1991
Passage Summary:

In Sandra Cisneros’s “Eleven,” a girl is forced to wear a sweater that doesn’t belong to her on her birthday.

When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have finished the chapter “Cotton Sack,” in order for them to analyze what it means to grow up. Panchito wants to prove he’s strong and mature enough to work as much as Roberto, whereas Rachel expects to suddenly feel more mature on the day of her birth. How are ideas of age challenged by Panchito and Rachel, and how are they trying to prove or disprove their maturity?
8th Grade Speech 1000L
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
Angela Lee Duckworth 2013
Passage Summary:

In the TED Talk “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Angela Lee Duckworth discusses the role that grit plays in success.

When and How to Pair: Have students read this speech after they have read up to the chapter “To Have and to Hold.” In this and the previous chapters “The Circuit” and “Learning the Game,” Panchito displays the passion and perseverance that Duckworth describes in her talk. Have students decide which Panchito best exemplifies grit (working with Mr. Lema in the classroom, standing up to Carlos and his work in the librito) using quotes from both Duckworth and the previous three chapters to support their views.
7th Grade Informational Text 1100L
Mexican Migrant Workers in the 20th Century
Jessica McBirney 2016
Passage Summary:

This informational text describes the hard lives of Mexican-Americans and immigrants who became migrant workers throughout the 20th century in the United States.

When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have completed “The Circuit,” in order to provide them with context on the experience and culture that created and sustains migrant workers. Ask the students to pick one statement from the article and find an example in the Circuit that highlights that statement. Have students write about why the passage from “The Circuit” is tied to the article.