Grade Level Equivalent:
Guided Reading Level:
African American History, Women's History and Experience, Extended Families, African American, Drawing and Painting
As she did in Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky, internationally renowned artist Faith Ringgold uses the framework of a traditional children's picture book to teach young readers about important women in African-American history.
On a summer visit to Aunt Connie's house, young Melody meets her newly adopted cousin, Lonnie, a boy whose red hair and green eyes captivate her immediately. Exploring the house, the two discover Aunt Connie's artwork, and her secret: Her paintings can talk!
Through the portraits, the children meet 12 courageous, ground-breaking women, including Rosa Parks, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Dandridge, Zora Neale Hurston, Bessie Smith, Sojourner Truth, and Madame C.J. Walker. Their stories are fascinating and inspiring, and as Melody and Lonnie return to the dinner table — to feast on favorites, from roast turkey to macaroni and cheese — they feel the magic of the women whose images surround them, and dream of a future where they can be anything they want to be.
Like its predecessor, the Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award-winning Tar Beach, Dinner at Aunt Connie's House began as a "story quilt" — a unique combination of painting, sewing, and storytelling that Ringgold has made her own. A photograph of the quilt is appended, as is a note on its transformation, in both form and content, into a picture book. Eye-catching and informative, this unique blend of fact and fantasy will inspire young readers of all backgrounds.
Faith Ringgold was born in 1930, in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City. She went to City College in New York to study art and earned her degree from the School of Education. She followed the family tradition of teaching, but never stopped creating her own art or telling stories. Today she is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Diego and lives in Englewood, New Jersey. She also has art studios in New York. She is married and has two daughters and three granddaughters.