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In Me (Moth), Moth has a strong emotional connection with her deceased grandfather, who engaged in Hoodoo or Rootwork, a spiritual practice which highlights the strength and power of ancestors. In taking their road trip, Moth and Sani hope to reconnect with the ghosts of their Black and Native American ancestors.
Get students thinking about their own ancestors—whether real, imagined, or from chosen families—and how they have shaped who they are today. Have students think about what they would do if faced with their ancestors. What would they want to talk about with them? What would they want to know? Ask students to write about the values, traditions, and culture, handed down to them by previous generations and how this heritage impacts their identity. Then have students use what they’ve written to connect their identity with their ancestral roots by having them design a tattoo that represents both.
Sani has a tattoo of five finger grass. Moth tells him “in Hoodoo five finger grass tempts others to do your bidding.” Ask students what they think the tattoo represents to Sani. Talk about what students think about tattoos and how the images can have powerful symbolic meaning that also represents the wearer’s identity. Ask students to spend some time thinking about symbols or drawings that represent the things that they wrote about their ancestors. How will they incorporate those symbols into their tattoo design? Students can draw their tattoos or use existing images to create them. When sharing their tattoo design, have them describe the significance behind each symbol.
Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing
- What did you think of Amber McBride’s decision to write Me (Moth) in verse? What did her poetic style bring to the story?
- Why is it important to find someone who will see you? Why do both Moth and Sani feel disconnected from everyone around them? How are they able to connect to each other? Does their connection seem unlikely? Who did you feel more of a connection with, Moth or Sani?
- Moth and Sani take a road trip. What are they each looking for on this trip? How do their metaphorical journeys compare to their literal one?
- How did you feel about how the book ended?
Me (Moth) Resources for Educators developed by Amber McBride
Finding Your Roots from PBS LearningMedia
Nine Brilliant Student Essays on Honoring Your Roots from YES! for Teachers
Self-Identity Through Tattoo Design from The smARTteacher