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Tar Beach

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  5,222 ratings  ·  267 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 Part autobiographical, part fictional, this allegorical tale sparkles with symbolic and historical references central to African-American culture.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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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
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
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
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
Kayla Davis
This book tells the story of Cassie, an eight-year old African American-Indian Girl, who uses her imagination to fly. Cassie is in love with the Statuesque Bridge that her Father helped build before she was born and with her flying skills it soon becomes her favorite spot to frequent. Cassie asserts that once she flies over something she acquires it forever. Soon Cassie is flying over buildings that under her new ownership will alter her family’s fate for the better. With each new flight Cassie ...more
Lindsay Fischer
Tar Beach is partially an autobiography and a fictional narrative. The story is about a girl who flies through her city. From above, she sees her family and neighbors and all the buildings that surround her home. She claims the buildings are hers if she flies over them. So, she flies over many things in the city as a way to help out her family. Tar Beach is actually the rooftop of a building where her family and friends spend time together on hot nights.
The author, Faith Ringgold, is also the
Natalie Brockmeier
My initial reaction was that this book was underwhelming. I knew it had received the Caldecott award as well as other critical acclamations. So when I skimmed through it the first time, I was a little disappointed. However, after reading through it again, I have seen tons of value in implementing this book in to my classroom. I would read this aloud to a first or second grade classroom. I want to have a diverse representation of literature in my classroom, and this story has all African American ...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:
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.
Week 8 picture book.

I never thought about having a beach on a rooftop. This made me think about how every child can see a situation from a different perspective. I liked this book because it had hidden themes about real-life issues, such as poverty, unemployment, racism, etc. I loved the artwork but I'm not sure students would really understand that this story is about a dream, or be able to see the hidden themes and ideas in this book.
Gabrielle Blockton
Date: October 12th, 2014

Author: Faith Ringgold

Title: Tar Beach

Plot: Cassie Louise Lightfoot is an eight year old girl that loves to fly around her sparkling and beloved city and be around her family.

Setting: New York City

Characters: Cassie Louise Lightfoot, Mr. and Mrs. Lightfoot, Mr. and Mrs Honey, Be Be (brother),

Point-of-View: First-Person

Theme: Segregation, Unity

Style: Narrative, Informational, Non-Fiction

Copyright: 1991

Notes: I really enjoyed this book because it included a lot of non-f
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
It always amazes me to look through the lens of a child's perspective at serious issues of poverty and inequality. That is what you do when you read Faith Ringgold's "Tar Beach". I was captivated by the artwork and mesmerized by the narrative that while fiction, contained insightful details from a child's point of view as to what life was like in 1930's Harlem. In a poignant sequence, 8-year old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, leaves her ghetto neighborhood to fly among the stars, and escape life as sh ...more
La'bria Hannah
Tar Beach is a story about eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot who expresses all of her wishes and dreams. The story takes place in 1939 on the tarred roof of her family's apartment building and she refers to it as a beach. Cassie's imagination allows her to feel self-confident and capable of anything. Through both the inspirational text and illustrations, Ringgold urges that life's circumstances should not be taken at face value. Instead, one's attitude can overcome anything. There are 24 pa ...more
Reading Level: Middle School
Genre: Picture Book, Biography/Fantasy
Review: This Caldecott Medal winner is an adaptation from the author's original story quilt, a unique medium for storytelling. Personally, I thought it might be difficult for this autobiographical story to be understood easily by young children. It's not as though the language or vocabulary is too advanced, but it has a fairly complex message. For that reason, I think this might be most appropriate for older children, who can perh
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
I have always wish that I had grown up in New York City because I feel as though as a kid wondering around in this big city would enrich my imagination, creativity, and immerse myself with culture in this wonderful city. With this book I felt as though I got a small glimpse of that beautiful city.

Before I begin, I have to acknowledge that the illustrations and paintings are absolutely marvelous and I love the texture and it truly felt as though I was in Harlem looking at New York at night. The s
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
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
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
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