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Lesson Plan

Flying to Freedom: Tar Beach and The People Could Fly

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 45-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Jennifer Soalt

Concord, Massachusetts


International Literacy Association



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Comparing Tar Beach and The People Could Fly enables students to interpret themes of liberation and racism in a complex, multifaceted manner. Third through fifth grade students work in small discussion groups to compare and contrast the two texts and develop Venn diagrams. After the group discussions, students work individually to write a reflective essay. Moreover, by examining the relationship between two different types of narrative set in two time periods, students learn about the significance of genre and historical context.

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Interactive Venn diagram: Comparing characters is a snap with this easy-to-use Venn diagram tool.

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Lehr, S. & Thompson, D.L. (2000) The dynamic nature of response: Children reading and responding to Maniac Magee and The Friendship. The Reading Teacher, 53, 480493.

  • Integrating the literature program with quality multicultural children's books is a necessary goal of an inclusive curriculum.

  • This study found that children in both rural and urban settings were able to confront their confusion, their own prejudices, their lack of understanding, and their questions about racial problems in the United States.

  • The teacher's role in the classroom setting is rather crucial during discussions of multicultural literature. If children are left to their own devices when reading and discussing multicultural books, there is the potential for a pooling of misinformation. As "cultural mediators," teachers can scaffold and extend the children's responses and fill in the historical gaps for children as questions and confusions arise.

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