This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration Book Poster Image

This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration



Lyrical story of a rope and one family's migration north.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will learn a bit about the 20th century Great Migration from 1910 to 1970, when more than 6 million African-Americans came to northern cities from the rural South to improve their lives. The book also shows ingenious examples of the many ways  a bit of rope can be used.

Positive messages

Shows the determination of a family willing to relocate to better their situation, and the love that holds a family together.

Positive role models

The little girl grows up and becomes a grandmother herself, showing the family's cohesiveness as well as individual accomplishments.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Newbery Honor–winning author Jacqueline Woodson's This is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award–winning illustrator James Ransome, is a lyrical treatment of the the Great Migration, when millions of African-Americans in the 20th century moved out of the South and headed north to find work and fairer treatment. A fictionalized version of the author's family history, it's told from the perspective of a little girl. The rope she finds becomes a valued object and an integral part of three generations of her family.

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What's the story?

THIS IS A ROPE traces the significant role a rope plays in three generations of an African-American family. It's used not only as a jump rope but also to secure possessions to the roof of a car that heads north, to dry flowers and diapers in a city apartment, and to help make new friends. The story is told from the point of view of a young girl, who relates the rope's history in her family and how it helped them realize their goal of having a better life.

Is it any good?


Together, author Jacqueline Woodson and illustrator James Ransome have tackled a huge topic and made it accessible for young readers. Woodson uses spare, poetic text to show through a single family how hopes and dreams of a better life drove an estimated 6 million African-Americans in the 20th century to leave the rural South for new beginnings in northern cities. And Ransome's oil paintings are realistic yet filled with emotion. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about family objects handed down through generations. Are there any items you use that were your grandmother's?

  • How much do you know about African-American history? Check out our recommendation list of Award-Wining African-American Books.

  • In a circle with friends or family take an object, like a piece of rope or a stick, and demonstrate all the different ways you could use it.

Book details

Author:Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator:James Ransome
Genre:Historical Fiction
Topics:Great girl role models, History, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:August 29, 2013
Number of pages:29
Publisher's recommended age(s):5 - 8
Available on:Hardback

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