Thursday, February 5, 2009

Children's Books on Slavery


For several weeks now we have been reading about slavery in the United States. Below are the chapter books and picture books I've enjoyed with my younger kids, ages 8 and 11.

Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling (This is an excellent book; please don't leave this one out!)

Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom by Margaret Davidson (I loved this as a child and was thrilled to find it at our local library sale for a quarter!)

Uncle Tom's Cabin (Young Folks Edition): This is essential, in my opinion, because so many other books refer to Harriet Beecher Stowe's book as pivotal in the recognition of the evils of slavery in America. Although I had a copy of the book, this children's edition is available online, too.

If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine (I think this whole "If You..." series is fantastic)

Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson, ill. by James Ransome (nice picture book about one family's journey on the Underground Railroad)

Show Way by Jacqeline Woodson, ill. by Hudson Talbott (Traces the author's heritage from mother to daughter back eight generations, with a wonderful thread of quilting, piecing together, writing, and freedom. Love this one.)

Alec's Primer by Mildred Pitts Walker (Picture book retelling the true story of Alec Turner, born a slave in 1845, who was taught to read by his master's daughter. Ultimately Alec runs away from the plantation to join the army during the Civil War. We loved this story because it is based on a real person.)

The Wagon by Tony Johnston, ill. by James Ransome (Wonderfully poetic story of a child born into slavery and his subsequent freedom after the Civil War.)

"The Tale of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'" from The Children's Book of America by William J. Bennett

Addy: An American Girl series

My America: Corey's Underground Railroad Diary (3 books in series)

I Have Heard of a Land by Joyce Carol Thomas (about the land rush in the late 1800s, post-Civil War)

Movies: Harriet Tubman (Animated Hero Classics by Nest Productions): I was not crazy about this video. I'm going to try to find and preview the movies Race to Freedom, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and/or A Woman Called Moses as the biographical, animated video fell way short of telling much of Harriet's story.

In the Hands of a Child has a slavery lapbook. I downloaded this once when it was free from CurrClick, but I thought the information was too ponderous for my 2nd grader. I'd recommend it, though, for grades 6 and up. The Homeschool Learning Network also has a Harriet Tubman unit study for only $3.50. While I felt like reading the literature above was an excellent study of slavery in America leading up to a study of the Civil War, I think the lapbook and unit study would be an excellent addition for older kids.

Next up: the Civil War!

6 comments:

Lauren said...

This was very timely...I downloaded that same lapbook set, but after reading this I'm going to hang on to it a couple of years. (My oldest are 7 & 10.)

Sarah said...

I really enjoy your post on coffee (128) and the story of how you met your husband =). Right now I am reading "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. It is intense! Diaz is a professor at MIT, which is interesting because Alan Lightman, author of "Einstein's Dreams" is also a professor there. Have you read "Einstein's Dreams"? It is a book I like to teach. I think you would enjoy it =)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Great post! I've got a couple of these on hold at the library and some I've read before. I've been reading a lot of slavery books this past month.

Literature Review said...

I thank you for your children's literature picks on slavery. I am doing a project for school and It has helped me greatly! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the book i read uncle toms cabin i got an a plus well i just wanted to say thanks

Anonymous said...

In this genre, another book to consider is the novel Perpessi, Pernikki, and Pumm. The words "slave" and "slavery" never appear in this book. Instead of naming and condemning the institution, the book takes a naive approach to discovery and description of the phenomenon. That is, it allows the child reader to observe and draw conclusions for herself. While there is plenty of humor in the book (observable in the Amazon sample), pathos is unavoidable given the subject matter. Humorous in places, moving and poetic in others.