Monday, May 09, 2016

Faith Ringgold- We Came to America

26108941Ringgold, Faith. We Came to America
May 10th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Copy received from the publisher 

With a refrain of "We came to America, every color, race, and religion, from every country in the world", Ringgold uses bright backgrounds to frame her folk art illustrations of a variety of immigrants throughout US history. She also includes that fact that "some of us were here already " with illustrations of Native Americans. The text mentions vaguely reasons that people left their own countries, and addresses the contributions of others cultures and concludes with the sentiment that no matter what our differences are, "We are ALL Americans". 

The illustration style is very vibrant, and the text of the book lyrical, since the refrains make it sound like a song. This would be a good book to use to introduce a unit on immigration to elementary school students. 

I am always looking for informative picture books for my middle school students, and this doesn't quite fit the bill for that, since there isn't very much information; it's just an introduction to the concept of immigration. I'm not sure if the illustrations are culturally accurate, and no particular culture is assigned to any of the pictures. 

My only objection to the book is the use of "America". From what I understand, citizens from SOUTH America and Canada often take umbrage when people from the US use this term, since they are also technically "Americans", just not ones who dwell in the United States of America. 
7034917Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach
January 16th 1991 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Copy received from the publisher

This 25th anniversary edition is a book adaptation of Ms. Ringgold's story quilt of the same name. In it, a young girl living in Harlem in the 1930s enjoys socializing with friends and family on the roof of her building, and imagines that she can fly over the city and see everything that is going on. These sights include the George Washingston Bridge, which opened on the day of her birth, and the new union building that her father is helping to build but won't be able to join because of he is not white. Times are tough, but the girl imagines what life would be like if she could afford the niceties of life. 

Like We Came to America, this is a lavishly illustrated and lyrical picture book, but is more evocative of mood than explanatory. There are notes at the back of the book that explain some of the imagery and Ms. Ringgold's history, on which the book is based. This could be used with classes to introduce the Great Depression or the challenges faced by African Americans at this time. 


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