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Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

Tar Beach (1991)

by Faith Ringgold

Series: Cassie

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Grades: K-3
Theme: Family and imagination
  creykellums | Apr 9, 2016 |
This is a story about a young girl growing up in the Depression in Harlem, New York. Even though the her and her family are enduring the hardships of the Depression era, they still find joys in the every day small things such as, going up the rooftop of their apartment (their Tar Beach) and having a picnic with neighbors and playing cards. While they are having this picnic, Cassie decides to "fly" over New York. She flies over the George Washington Bridge which is her favorite. In her mind (if she was not living in the midst of the Depression) she could possibly own it. She then flies over the Union building, which is not her favorite because they would not let her father join because he is African American. Cassie even lets her brother join her in her flight! With the artwork and the way the story is told through the eyes of a child, it makes the hardships that people had to deal with much more understandable for children.

Personal Reaction:
I thought this was a great multicultural story to read. I really feel that children will be able to relate to certain things while realizing how different today's society is from back then. I also love New York City, so any stories that are based there definitely capture my attention!

Extension Activities:
1. Make Story Quilts. The children can use Faith Ringgold's illustrations as a model to design their own quilt border. Then inside they can either draw or write a story (based on the grade level) about if they could fly anywhere like Cassie, where would they go?
2. STEM Bridges. Use the George Washington Bridge as a model to discuss the various types of bridges that have been designed and built over the years. Give the students straws and other materials, so they can design their own bridges. ( )
  Toods | Mar 22, 2016 |
Summary:Tar beach is a very diverse and multicultural picture book. It starts off with the narration of the little girl and her flying over George Washington Bridge. As she explains the surroundings she “flies” over, she also talks about her family and how her father was unable to join the union because of his race. She tells the readers that because she flys over the bridge and other places, like the ice cream factory, they will be hers. In the end of the book, she lets her brother fly with her, and tells him it is very easy to fly “All you need is somewhere to go that you can’t get to any other way.” And then they fly away.

Personal Reaction: This sweet picture book was very colorful. I enjoyed the narration by the little girl and the 2D illustrations. The artwork looks to be from pastel crayons maybe and the patchwork design at the bottle looks as if it were from a real quilt. This book made me think of how 80 years ago, race was still such a big issue and the one way for children to escape the hatred was their imaginations.

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1) One activity as a whole class would be, after reading the book, have children lie down on mats and close their eyes. Reread the book to them and allow them to use their imagination. After, call upon a student and reread one page to that student and have them write as well as tell what they saw when closing their eyes. Do this with each student. After they write down their answers, have them draw what they see. Bind each page together and create a whole book using the student's imaginations of each page.
2) Another extension activity would be to have students write about their special place where they go to daydream, have them either draw out their special place or draw what they do in their daydream. Where do they go to feel safe and free? For older children they can write this out first and then create a picture of their place. This can be created into a quite as well by binding the papers together. ( )
  Genevieve.Foerster | Mar 21, 2016 |
Tar Beach is about a school aged girl named Cassie. She understood that parts of the world were unfair. Cassie discovered she could fry on night, she assumed by flying over a place she was claiming it. Cassie thought sleeping on Tar Beach was a magical place.

Personal Reaction:
When I was little I learned some things are unfair and sometimes it just gets harder when you are older.

Classroom Extension:
1. After reading this book, it is a good time to explain to the children how things do not always happen as they plan.
2. It teaches that the color of your skin and problems that occur do not always go hand in hand.
  a.houck | Mar 16, 2016 |
this book is a CALDECOTT HONOR BOOK and so endearing to me as I was given a story quilt when I was a child, a way to hand down heritage and family air looms with in a quilt that told a story of your family history. Faith Ringgold uses hers in the illustrations of the boarder in each page along with painted pictures, this is used to tell a story of a girl and her family and how she dreams someday of flying to freedom and going anywhere she wants to and buying factories for her father, a dream to be free of prejudice. Faith preludes to this in the book when she mentions her father cannot join the steel workers’ union because he is half black and half native American. The family lives in Harlem and spends many of evening upon the tar roof with her parents and their friends eating and playing cars while she lies on the story quilt, stares at the stars and dream of flying and owning the city ( )
  Malynda2 | Mar 13, 2016 |
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First words
"I will always remember when the stars fell down around me and lifted me up above the George Washington Bridge."
Last words
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0517885441, Paperback)

Illus. in full color. "Ringgold recounts the dream adventure of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies above her apartment-building rooftop, the 'tar beach' of the title, looking down on 1939 Harlem. Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture. The spectacular artwork resonates with color and texture. Children will delight in the universal dream of mastering one's world by flying over it. A practical and stunningly beautiful book."--(starred) Horn Book.  

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family. Based on the author's quilt painting of the same name.

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