Tar Beach
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Tar Beach

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  4,524 ratings  ·  234 reviews
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 Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture.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 a...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published December 3rd 1996 by Dragonfly Books (first published 1991)
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African American Picture Books
16th out of 141 books — 59 voters
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Multicultural Children's Lit
5th out of 269 books — 39 voters

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I have actually seen this book on an episode of “Reading Rainbow” and I thought that this book was great! “Tar Beach” is a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book by Faith Ringgold that is about a young girl named Cassie Louise Lightfoot who tells the audience about how she flies in the sky over the city and relates her tale to the audience. “Tar Beach” is certainly a memorable book that children will love to read!

After reading this book, I started taking an interest in the art of...more
Tar Beach is the story of a young girl named Cassie Lightfoot and her unique perspective of Harlem in the 1930’s. Cassie flies above her black tar rooftop and has a bird’s eye view of her city in which she recounts some of the different things she sees such as her most prized possession, the George Washington Bridge, and her father’s workplace at a union building where he is a construction worker.

The book has a very positive message about the need to dream and flourish while still containing und...more
L-Crystal Wlodek
Summary: This picture book, illustrated in a quilt-like fashion, is intended for readers 4-8 years of age and is a Caldecott Honor book. This book is about the universal wish of freedom. It delightfully balances dreams of a young girl and the injustices of the adult world. One night, as Cassie Lightfoot lays on “tar beach” which is the rooftop of her apartment building, the stars lift her up, allowing her to fly all round the city. While flying, she claims all of the buildings her own so her fam...more
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
I read this when it first came out. And I read it again a few years ago, and now I just read it for the 3rd+++++ time. However, I think I am finally understanding it at a deeper level.
Alicia Ard
"Tar Beach" is a journey through the mind of Cassie Louise Lightfoot. Cassie is an eight-year-old African-American girl whose lower-class family lives in New York. The story originated as a very colorful story quilt and later evolved into book form.

Tar Beach is the name Cassie has given the rooftop of the apartment complex in which she resides. It is a nice gathering place for families to spend hot summer nights.

Cassie tells us that when she visits Tar Beach, she can fly anywhere she pleases. Th...more
Jan 01, 2012 Hazel marked it as recommended-for-meredith
I've been reading some articles on development during the pre-teen years and found this quote. If I remember correctly, Ringgold is an artist. I didn't know that she wrote as well.

I will always remember when the stars fell down around me and lifted me up above the George Washington Bridge...Lying on the roof in the night, with the stars and skyscraper buildings all around me made me feel rich, like I owned all that I could see. The bridge was my most prized possession...

Me, Cassie Louise Lightfo
Ch_beth Rice
This Caldecott Honor book earned it's award with it's beautiful depiction of how powerful imagination can be. I love the way Faith Ringgold shows the hardships that Cassie's family faces, and how Cassie does what she can to help her family through the power of her imagination. I also love how Ringgold shows that although her family has many challenges they also find joy in simple things such as picnics on their roof. A wonderful book to show a different way of life to young children and explore...more
Angela Moorer
This book is beautiful and I believe it is great to be shared for the historical aspect it conatins. Reading it at first, I didnt really understand the title. The understanding didnt come until reading it many more times and understanding that the "beach" can be anywhere where relaxation and enjoyment occurs. This book had awesome illustrations and students are sure to be able to appreciate them. This would definitely be a read aloud and we would research some of the historical aspects offered.
I liked the border of colored squares along the bottom pages of the book. I also enjoyed the imaginative mind of the little girl. I did enjoy looking at the illustrations, but I didn't think they were beyond spectacular or anything. I liked the story, but it just didn't click as much as I would have liked, otherwise it would have gotten a higher rating.

*Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2008...
Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach is an amazing story that utilizes her art work as the illustration. Tar Beach, although Ringgold's first book, won critical acclaim as well as a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, and it continues to be a favorite among children and adults alike. The story is about a girl that fly over her neighborhood to claim the George Washington Bridge. It is a story that I would use in grade 3-5.
Briana Nelson
This book reminded me of my childhood. My mom would read me this story before bed, and I really enjoyed looking at the pictures. Reading this book now gives me a different perspective because I was able to see underlying themes. Reading it when I was young, I only thought it was about a family living on a roof and a girl could fly. Now, I am able to understand that this book is about socioeconomics and and following your dreams. A young girl- who's family is oppressed- finally gets a chance to e...more
Amanda Denter
Tar Beach is a book about a part Indian family that never gets to meet their dreams because they are not part of a union. The young girl wants to make things happen for her family so she creates the ability to fly to make things her own. She flies over the golden gate bridge describing the lights as her necklace or flies over the building her dad works at to make it his. At the end of the story she takes her brother so he does not tell. The moral of the story is you can do anything you set your...more
Genre: Multicultural, Picture Book and Autobiography
Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 2
Grade Level Equivalent: 2.9
Lexile: 790L
Award: Coretta Scott King

Main characters: Cassie, her father, her brother
Point of view: from Cassie
Setting: New York/her rooftop apartment

I enjoyed Tar Beach because it addresses heavy concepts such as exclusion based on race, the yearning to be free, identity, and family. Tar Beach is actually the roof top of Cassie Louise's apartment, where her parents and neig...more
Tar Beach is an adaptation of artist Faith Ringgold’s own work. The original art piece is a story quilt, one of five actually, depicting a similar tale. Many of the elements from the quilt, the borders around each page and the image used for the cover are taken from the story quilt. An image of the original, which hangs in the Guggenheim Museum, is featured in the back of the book alongside information about Ringgold, her series of quilts and the inspiration for the story they told. A major them...more
Dani K.
Tar Beach is told from the perspective of Cassie Louise Lightfoot, a young girl living in New York City in view of the George Washington Bridge. In the evenings, while Cassie’s parents play cards with the next door neighbors, Cassie and her brother, Be Be, lay on mattresses on one corner of Tar Beach (the roof top of their tenement building). During these unsupervised moments, Cassie flies away from Tar Beach to claim the city for her own. The very act of flying over a building or bridge makes i...more
Israel Graves
I used this as my picture story book..And I just love,love,loved the illustrations in this book! I can completely agree that this book deserved to win a Caldecott Award that it recieved! First of all I must say that my favorite part of the illustrations in this book were the quilt patterns that were at the bottom of each page! The patterns are so unique and this is a first that I have seen in a children's picture book. They are very small so they are not distracting from the other illustrations...more
Grade/interest level: Primary (1st-3rd grade)
Reading level: 1st grade
Genre: Fantasy, Autobiography
Main Characters: Cassie Lightfoot, Daddy, Be Be, Mommy
Setting: CAssie Lighfoot's rooftop, Tar Beach (New York)
Author: Faith Ringgold
POV: from Cassie Lightfoot

This book is about a third grade girl named Cassie Lightfoot. Born to a working class family she takes the readers through the city as she flies over the George Washington Bridge and over her home. Cassie’s family did not have much, but lying...more
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold is an amazing children's book. Cassie Louise Lightfoot, a young African American girl living in Harlem, is eating dinner with her family on the roof of their apartment, which she calls "Tar Beach." Surrounded by the stars, Cassie feels like she's living on top of the world, flying over the city of Harlem. The beautiful illustrations pair up with the magical feeling of the story. Despite the happiness projected throughout the story, Cassie also manages to show us the d...more
Meghan Porter
Tar Beach is a very moving book. It is about and African American girl, Cassie, who uses her imagination to fly over the George Washington Bridge. She sees the world through the eyes of a child and is able to think differently than her parents and friends. She uses her imagination to think of a world where her life, and the lives of her family are better. She wants to give the Daddy the Union Office so that he would always have job and be happy. This would also make her Mommy happy because she...more
Rebecca Hipps
The first time I read “Tar Beach,” many years ago, I did not like it. I remember thinking the illustrations were amateur and didn’t think the story was interesting. I began my most recent reading of this book, by reading the information and author biography provided in the back of the picturebook. As I learned about Faith Ringgold’s heritage and experiences and came to understand that “Tar Beach” is actually a story quilt, I read the book from a whole different perspective. The story, told from...more
I really enjoyed reading this story. First and foremost the illustrations caught my eye, which were very colorful and highly detailed. It was a story about a little girl who lived with her family in the city and, they were always associating with their neighbors on the rooftop. She would believe that she was flying around the city and would do many things she wished she could do to make life better for her family. Her father was always out looking for work and would sometimes be gone for months...more
Melissa Fordonski
As you begin reading Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, the dedication page gives the reader insight that the title Tar Beach came from memories the author has from spending time with friends and family on the roof of her childhood apartment building. In the beginning, we are introduced to the main character, Cassie, as she is soaring though the New York City sky on both the title page and in the first few pages of the story. She wants to own all parts of the city, especially those parts that are spec...more
The illustrations in this story are absolutely mesmerizing. I love the thick, acrylic paintings and quilt border that outlines the bottom of each page. The illustrations are simple and child-like, which mirrors the way the narrator (a young girl) sees the world. Not only are the pictures interesting, but the message this story communicates is one that many young and old people can relate to. Cassie, the main character and narrator, shares her hopes for a better life for her family and depicts th...more
Jessica Berry
Eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot flies up in the sky with the stars at night. She flies over the George Washington Bridge, the Union Building, the ice cream factory, and tar beach, which is her rooftop, and discusses some of these things. At the end of the story, when she flies back over tar beach while her parents are having dinner with their neighbors, Cassie flies back up in the stars and brings her younger brother, Be Be, with her. I was surprised by how observant Cassie is throughout...more
Alex Alfaro
On the hot summer nights, Cassie’s family gathers on the rooftop to eat while Cassie dreams of her adventures of flying through the city. Flying is Cassie’s escape, and she allows the reader to come with her on her journeys to the George Washington Bridge, the Ice Cream Factory, and more. However, the reader is quickly brought back down to earth and made aware of the realities in Cassie’s life. Despite the magical, lighthearted aspects of the story, Tar Beach is a realistic story of the struggle...more
Necole Penn
Tar Beach sounds like a book that would be about a beach that maybe had tar, but I didn't think about having a beach on a rooftop. It was a great idea to come up with this book and show other fun ways of spending time with loved ones and friends. It gave me ideas of how children would love to see the view not even on a rooftop but maybe in the park or close to tar. Tar would be a little to much for young children if the sun is out. If it was winter time and we had a tar basketball court or anyth...more
Jessica Sheaffer
Tar Beach, is historical fiction based on real events from Faith Ringgold’s Childhood. Faith Ringgold wrote and illustrated this book that takes place in New York City around 1940. During this whimsical and poignant narrative, Cassie Louise Lightfoot (the main character), has the power to fly, and with that ability she can overcome any obstacle and create a better life for herself and her family during a time in which African-Americans and other people of color, were not given the same opportuni...more
CH - Marvin Childress
Author/Illustrator: Faith Ringgold; (Print,) Age: 6-10; Award: Caldecott Honor.

Tar Beach is a brief look into the summer nights, dreams, and hopes Cassie Louise Lightfoot, an eight year old third grader, from what appears to be Brooklyn (the bridge.) Cassie and her family spend time on top of their apartment roof, which is covered in tar, and they call it Tar Beach. Cassie wants to own the bridge, among other things, so that her hard-working father won't have to worry about NOT being in union be...more
Ariana Thomas
Grade/Interest Level: Primary K-2
Guided Reading Level: P
Genre: Multicultural, Modern Fantasy

Main Characters: Cassie Louise Lightfoot, Mom and Dad (Cassie's parents), Mr. and Mrs. Honey (neighbors), Bebe (Cassie's brother)
Setting: Cassie's home and neighborhood in Harlem
POV: from Cassie

This is a great story about an 8 year old, 3rd grade girl named Cassie Louise Lightfoot who has longed for the freedom to go wherever she wants. One night while on the rooftop of her home in Harlem along with her...more
Staphany Ramirez
While I was reading this book, I really enjoyed it. I honestly love the artistic and detailed pictures the illustrator chose for this book. I think this book is mainly about a girl who uses her imagination to step away from her tragedies for a while. I believe that that technique should be used by other children, it's a good method to use. You accept that life isn't going so well, yet you don't let that affect you and be optimistic about it, instead. She first begins by lifting herself and flyin...more
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