Lesson plan

Author Study: Faith Ringgold

This engaging lesson teaches students about the famous author Faith Ringgold. Students will explore two pieces of literature, comparing and contrasting story elements, then write opinion pieces to illustrate which book they liked best.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

This engaging reading and writing lesson plan teaches students about the artist and author Faith Ringgold. First, students take a deep dive into two pieces of literature written by this phenomenal author. Next, they hone fiction comprehension skills as they compare and contrast each book's story elements. Finally, children have a chance to think critically and practice opinion writing as they write about which book they liked best.

  • Students will be able to write simple opinion pieces, using evidence from the text to support their opinions.
  • Students will be able to compare and contrast story elements from two fictional texts.
(8 minutes)
  • Gather the students together in a circle.
  • Explain to the students that today, they will learn about Faith Ringgold. Elaborate that Faith Ringgold is a painter, writer, speaker, mixed media sculptor, and artist. She is also the author of many loved children's books.
  • Pass out a sticky note to each student and play the "Who I Am: Faith Ringgold" video. Pause the video when you learn an interesting fact, and model recording that fact, using pictures and words, on the large piece of chart paper. Explain to students that as they watch the video, they should record something interesting they learned using words and pictures on the sticky note you provided.
  • Encourage students to share what they learned from the video and instruct them to place their sticky notes on the chart.
(15 minutes)
  • Show the students the cover of Tar Beach and have them turn and talk to discuss what they think the book will be about.
  • Read the book aloud one time, pausing to ask questions to encourage students to think about the text through a critical lense. Example questions include:
    • How is the family similar to yours? How is it different?
    • What is "Tar Beach"? Why does Cassie think Tar Beach is magical? How do you know?
    • Cassie dreams of flying over the Union Building and giving the Union Building to her dad. Why does she want to give the building to her dad?
  • Cassie tells us some of the mean things people say about her dad. What could you do if you heard someone say something mean about someone you love?
    • Cassie wishes her mom could sleep late. How does being able to sleep late tell us about a person?
  • How does Cassie's dream of flying connect with the idea of freedom? What does it mean to be free? (Define freedom in student-friendly language, for example, "the power to do what you want to do.")
(20 minutes)
  • Pass out the Story Elements: Compare and Contrast worksheet to students.
  • Guide the students in using the information from Tar Beach to fill out the left column. Refer back to the text to support your answers. Encourage student participation by asking them prompting questions, such as, "Who can tell me what happened in the story?" and "Whose point of view was the story told from? How do you know?"
  • Present the class with the other books written by Faith Ringgold. Explain to the students that next, they will split into small groups and read another story written by Faith Ringgold. Allow students to choose the book they'd like to read as appropriate. Instruct the students to finish the right column of their Story Elements: Compare and Contrast worksheet after reading the story twice.
  • Rotate around the room and support students as necessary.
  • Bring the students back together and allow them to share out their findings. Compare and contrast similarities and themes between the books, elaborating that to compare means to figure out what is the same and to contrast means to figure out what is different.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out writing paper to each student. Explain to the students that now they will write a short opinion piece that illustrates which book they liked best from the two books they read today. Reiterate that an opinion is what someone thinks about something, and it is not a fact.
  • Provide students with sentence stems/frames to support their writing, such as:
    • My favorite book written by Faith Ringgold was ____. This was the best book because ____. I also loved the part when ____. These reasons show why ____ is the best book.
  • Provide students with access to coloring materials so they can create a picture to go along with their writing.
  • Rotate around the class to support students as necessary.


  • Provide read-aloud or video versions of the text to support students as they read their picture book.
  • Allow students to work in a small, teacher-led group as they read the second book and fill out their worksheets.
  • Record student sentences as they share them aloud, or allow students to use speech-to-text technology.
  • Define tricky vocabulary words from the books prior to the lesson.
  • Provide students with a mini-lesson on Faith Ringgold prior to the whole class lesson.
  • Give students a mini-lesson on identifying story elements and/or comparing and contrasting prior to the lesson.


  • Encourage students to research another famous author and compare/contrast the themes present in their writing with Faith Ringgold's stories. Connect this to how our lives shape our thinking, and how we each have something different to share with the world.
  • Have students create a piece of artwork to show themes from Faith Ringgold's story Tar Beach.
  • Have students add more details to their opinion piece about their favorite Faith Ringgold story. Challenge them to write without the support of the sentence stems/frames.
(5 minutes)
  • Provide students with the Opinion Writing: Peer Revision worksheet. Explain the directions and allow students time to review their own work and the work of an elbow partner.
  • Collect the Opinion Writing: Peer Revision rubric and their opinion writing pieces to assess their understanding on the lesson's objectives.
(5 minutes)
  • Gather the students back together as a class.
  • Stand in a sharing circle and have students hold out their writing and pictures to show their peers.
  • Allow a few students to share their opinions with the rest of the class.
  • Close the lesson by explaining that we all have stories to share, and Faith Ringgold is a wonderful example of someone who has shared her stories through art, children's books, quilting, and sculptures. Ask students to reflect on the following question: "How would you like to share your story with others?"

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