Monday, October 10, 2016

Bookmarks - The Underground Railroad

Before the Civil War, many slaves risked their lives to flee north to find freedom. The Underground Railroad was a loosely organized system to help these slaves escape.  This topic might not be pleasant to think about, but I think it is important part of our nation's history for my children to know. Some of these journeys to freedom have been recorded in children's picture books. Here are a few of my favorite.

(Post contains affiliate links.)

Night Boat to Freedom by Nargot Theis Raven, Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Christmas John watches Granny Judith dye thread and dream of freedom. Based on true stories told by former slaves, Night Boat to Freedom contains masterful paintings that depict the moonless journey across the Ohio River.

Almost to Freedom by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Illustrated by Colin Bootman
Lindy takes her rag doll, Sally, with her everywhere – even on the Underground Railroad. Sally narrates the journey, and oil paintings bring color to her story.

Moses—When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Harriet Tubman is the most famous “conductor” in the Underground Railroad. This book shares her deep faith in God while reliving her escape from slavery with fabulous paintings.

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Henry’s longing to be free gave him the courage to mail himself to the north. Paintings show the emotions of the slaves who were willing to take great risks to escape slavery.

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by [Cline-Ransome, Lesa]

Words Set Me Free, The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by James E. Ransome
A six-year-old boy with a longing to learn to read is thwarted because of his skin color. Based on his own written accounts, this book shares the story of Douglass’s childhood. Brilliant oil paintings add drama to the account.

Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter
Molly, James, and other slaves use the song taught to them by Peg Leg Joe to reach freedom in the north. This is an account of one method used by the Underground Railroad to free slaves. Follow the Drinking Gourd by Bernardine Connelly is a similar book with the same title.

Ain't Nobody a Stranger to Me by Ann Grifalconi, Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

A grandfather tells his daughter about his journey to freedom and the kindness he was shown along the way. The illustrations depict the joy of springtime orchards and fear of a dark river journey.


  1. Ooo, these grab my attention right away--the artwork is so beautiful. Maybe I will order a few of these through our local library to read to my school children.

    1. Illustrations are what draws me into a children's book, too. There have been so many gorgeous books published recently. Hope you, and your students, enjoy it.

  2. I love reading your recommendations! And I'd love to have these books on our shelf. Henry's Freedom Box is the only one we have of those mentioned.

  3. The books look quite interesting☺ Thanks for recommending these ♥

  4. I am interested in books for adults on the Underground Railroad. Could you recommend any?

    Lynda (Tasmania, Australia)

    1. Thats a great question. I think the only one I've read is the classic Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

      Any of you have a good recommendation?

    2. Thanks Gina. Will start with this one,and check back regulary to see if any of your readers have more suggestions. Lynda

  5. These look like excellent books, and I have not seen them before! Yes, an important part of our history all should know.


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