This Is the Rope

This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration, written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by James Ransome, is a nominee for the 2015-16 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

This Is the Rope is a moving tale of one family’s journey from rural South Carolina to New York City during the Great Migration. The story begins with a girl finding a simple rope under a tree. This rope would play a part in the girl’s move north, serving as a luggage tie, a clothesline, a jump-rope, a reminder of times gone by, and a symbol of how far one family has come and the bonds that hold them together.

For younger readers, I think This Is the Rope is useful for illustrating stories with one object tying events together. Pun intended. This book could serve as an example to follow when writing their own similar stories. I don’t know how much K5-2nd grade readers would understand about the Great Migration, but this book could also start discussions on why people move from place to place, the differences between living in rural and urban areas, or what life was like during the North and the South during different periods of time.

For older students, This Is the Rope is a simple yet powerful introduction to the Great Migration, which is something that is often glossed over in some history classes. This book could start discussions on why many African Americans chose to move north during post-Reconstruction America, the conditions in the South that forced them to move, and how much work is still to be done to achieve racial equality, not only in the South but also across the nation.

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