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Teacher Quick Picks - Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad

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Books

Primary

Fiction

 

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky, Faith Ringgold
Two children learn about the history of the Underground Railroad by riding on an imaginary train with Harriet Tubman.

 

 

 

Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad, Pamela Duncan Edwards, illus. by Henry Cole
Woodland animals help a runaway slave find safety. A good read-aloud picture book for young elementary students.
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Follow the Drinking Gourd, Jeanette Winter
The lyrics of the song “Follow the Drinking Gourd” were a secret code that told slaves how to find their way to freedom.

 

 

 

Friend on Freedom River, Gloria Whelan, illus. by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
A young boy has to decide the right course of action when runaway slaves approach him for help in crossing the Detroit River to Canada – and freedom.
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Nonfiction

 

 

Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad, Marlene Targ Brill
Eleven-year-old Allen Jay’s bravery is tested when his father asks him to help a runaway slave in this true story written for early readers.
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An Apple for Harriet Tubman, Glennette Tilley Turner, illus. by Susan Keeter
This picture book biography centers on how the apples young Harriet had to pick (but was forbidden to eat) became a symbol of freedom for her, a fact the author learned during an interview of Tubman’s great-niece in 1984.
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Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery, William Miller, illus. by Cedric Lucas
A picture book account of Douglass’ struggle with a “slave breaker” that led to his decision to “never think or act like a slave again.”

 

 

 

Harriet Tubman, Martha E.H.Rustad
An early reader biography that incorporates a simple timeline across the bottom of each page.

 

 

 

Life on the Underground Railroad, Sally Senzell Isaacs
A basic introduction to the people involved with the Underground Railroad, including a brief but interesting section entitled “A Child’s View.” Highlighted words are defined in a glossary, and captions explain each illustration.

 

 

 

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman, Alan Schroeder, illus. by Jerry Pinkney Some scenes are invented in this fictionalized biography of Harriet Tubman’s childhood, but the central facts are accurate and the book captures beautifully the spirit of young Harriet.

 

 

Middle Grades

Fiction

 

Escape to Freedom, Ossie Davis
A play in five scenes about young Frederick Douglass.
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Freedom’s Wings: Corey’s Diary, Sharon Dennis Wyeth
In fictional diary format, a nine-year-old boy describes his escape with his mother on the Underground Railroad.
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Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family, Dolores Johnson
This illustrated, fictional story of one family’s experience as slaves is presented sensitively but with unflinching honesty.
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Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by James Ransome
When Clara, a seamstress in the Big House, hears another slave say that he needs a map to escape to the North, she realizes that she could create one with her stitches and find her own way to freedom while helping others.
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Nonfiction

 

Frederick Douglass: Leader Against Slavery, Patricia and Fredrick McKissack
This short biography of Douglass is most appropriate for second through fourth grade students. Includes a timeline and glossary.
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Frederick Douglass: Abolitionist Editor, Sharman Apt Russell
A more detailed Douglass biography for students in the upper elementary grades and middle school.
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Harriet Tubman, George Sullivan
Interviews with Harriet Tubman as well as quotes from people who knew her enhance the narrative of this Tubman biography. From the Scholastic “In Their Own Words” series.
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Many Thousand Gone, Virginia Hamilton, illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon
The saga of slavery and emancipation is told through the individual stories of the people who lived through it.
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Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom, Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Kadir Nelson
Kadir Nelson won a Coretta Scott King award and a Caldecott Honor award for illustration for this account of Tubman’s spiritual guidance on her journey to freedom.
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The Underground Railroad, Raymond Bial
Photographs of actual Underground Railroad “stations” and artifacts distinguish this book.
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The Underground Railroad for Kids, Mary Kay Carson
Primary source material (including photographs and direct quotes) and extension activities enliven this history book for upper elementary and middle school-aged kids.
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Links to Internet Web Sites

Aboard the Underground Railroad

The information collected at this site is most appropriate for grades 7 and up, but a map of the United States showing free and slave states and escape routes is a useful feature for younger students as well.

 

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad

Created by a second grade class and their classroom and computer teachers, this frequently updated site has wonderful features about Harriet Tubman for elementary students including timelines, character sketches, and crossword puzzles.

 

National Museum of American History: Our Story in History: Try It At Home: Slave Life and the Underground Railroad

Read about the Underground Railroad, then learn more by trying the history activities.

 

Underground Railroad – National Geographic Website

Experience your own virtual journey on the Underground Railroad at this fascinating site. There are also brief biographies of abolitionists in the “Faces of Freedom” section.

 

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