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KEY: jP = Picture Books; jZ = 1st and 2nd Grade Readers; jE = 3rd and 4th Grade Readers; J = 5th Grade and Up; Teen = 9th Grade and Up

SLAVERY

updated March 2013


Picture Books

Edwards, Pamela BAREFOOT
Escape on the Underground Railroad

In the dark of the night, Barefoot, an escaped slave, flees for his life. With his pursuers close behind and the moon shrouded in clouds, Barefoot must rely on the wisdom of the wild animals of the forest and swamp to guide him to the safety of the underground railroad.
1997 unpaged

Hopkinson, Deborah SWEET CLARA AND THE FREEDOM QUILT

This story is based on a true, little-known chapter in African American history. As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara knows she's better off than the slaves who work the fields. But slavery has separated Clara from her mother, and she can never be happy without her. Clara dreams that they will be reunited one day and run away together - north to freedom. Then Clara hears two slaves talking about how they could find the Underground Railroad if only they had a map. In a flash of inspiration, she sees how to use the cloth in her scrap bag to sew a map of the land - a freedom quilt - that no master will ever suspect is a map to freedom.
1993 unpaged

Hopkinson, Deborah
UNDER THE QUILT OF NIGHT

A young girl flees from the farm where she has been worked as a slave and uses the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom in the north.
2001 unpaged

Levine, Ellen HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX
A fictionalized account of how in 1849 a Virginia slave, Henry "Box" Brown, escapes to freedom by shipping himself in a wooden crate from Richmond to Philadelphia.
2007 unpaged

Pace, Lorenzo JALANI AND THE LOCK

In this story based on true events, Jalani, a freed slave, gives the lock that held him in chains to his eldest child as a symbol of his enslavement. Few simple words and big, childlike illustrations make this an accessible story.
2001 44 p.

Ringgold, Faith AUNT HARRIET'S UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN THE SKY

With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps former slaves took on the Underground Railroad as she hopes to reunite with her younger brother.
1992 unpaged

Siegelson, Kim IN THE TIME OF THE DRUMS
Mentu, an American-born slave boy, watches his beloved grandmother, Twi, lead the insurrection at Teakettle Creek of Ibo people arriving from Africa on a slave ship.
1999 unpaged

Stroud, Bettye THE PATCHWORK PATH
A Quilt Map to Freedom

While her father leads her toward Canada and away from the plantation where they have been slaves, a young girl thinks of the quilt her mother used to teach her a code that will help guide them to freedom.
2005 unpaged

Wentworth, Marjory SHACKLES
Based on a true story, Shackles describes what happens when a group of boys--Hunter and his younger brothers, Oliver and Taylor, and three friends--search for buried treasure in their backyard on Sullivan s Island, South Carolina. When they unexpectedly dig up shackles, instead of the treasure they were hoping for, they are sad and confused. Neighbor and friend Mr. Green is summoned, and tries to explain the painful hidden history of Sullivan s Island.
2009 unpaged


Beginning-to-Read Books

Monjo, F.J. THE DRINKING GOURD

The stars of the Big Dipper have led a runaway slave family to Deacon Fuller's house, a stop on the underground railroad. Will Tommy Fuller be able to hide the runaways from a search party -- or will the secret passengers be discovered and their hope for freedom destroyed?
1970 62 p.


3rd - 4th Grade

Altman, Linda THE LEGEND OF FREEDOM HILL

during the California Gold Rush, Rosabel, an African American, and Sophie, a Jew, team up and search for gold to buy Rosabel's mother her freedom from a slave catcher. 1850's.
2000 unpaged

Berleth, Richard SAMUEL'S CHOICE

Samuel, a fourteen-year-old slave in Brooklyn in 1776, faces a difficult choice when the fighting between the British and the colonists reaches his doorstep and only he can help the rebels.
1990 40 p.

Chambers, Veronica AMISTAD RISING

The Story of Freedom

A fictional account of the 1839 revolt of Africans aboard the slave ship Amistad and the subsequent legal case argued before the Supreme Court in 1841 by former president John Quincy Adams. New Haven, Connecticut.
1998 unpaged

Coleman, Evelyn THE FOOT WARMER AND THE CROW

Hezekiah is a slave with a cruel master. He dreams of escaping his bondage and, with the help of an unlikely friend, a crow, finds a way to fulfill his dream. Agreeing to be the master's foot warmer, Hezekiah learns the man's secret fear, outwits him, and gains his freedom.
1994 32 p.

Connelly, Bernardine FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD
A young slave girl sets off to the North with her brother and mother, following the star in the Drinking Gourd, or Big Dipper, that points to freedom
1997 unpaged

Hoobler, Dorothy NEXT STOP, FREEDOM
Emily, a slave girl who longs to read, escapes from slavery with the help of Harriet Tubman.
1991 50 p.

Hooks, William THE BALLAD OF BELLE DORCAS
When she falls in love with Joshua, a slave, free-born Belle Dorcas uses the magic of a conjer woman to keep Joshua with her.
1990 40 p.

Hooks, William FREEDOM'S FRUIT
Mama Marina, a slave woman and conjurer in the Old South, casts a spell on her master's grapes as part of her plan to win freedom for her daughter Sheba and the man Sheba loves.
1996 unpaged

Johnson, Dolores NOW LET ME FLY
THE STORY OF A SLAVE FAMILY

A Cictionalized account of the life on Minna, kidnapped as a girl in Africa, as she endures the harsh life of a slave on a Southern plantation in the 1800's and tries to help her family survive.
1993 unpaged

Lees, Stewart RUNAWAY JACK
The time is the 1840s, and Jack, a young black slave, is sold at auction. Separated from Molly, his beloved younger sister, he is sent to Mississippi and forced to work in the cotton fields for a harsh and demanding master.
2004 28 p.

Morrow, Barbara A GOOD NIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Hallie discovers two runaway slaves hiding in Levi Coffin's home and must decide whether to turn them in or help them escape to freedom. Includes historical notes on the Underground Railroad and abolitionists Levi and Catharine Coffin. 1839.
2004 32 P.

Moses, Shelia I, DRED SCOTT
Having served his master in northern states, under the provisions of the Missouri compromise the slave Dred Scott may be eligible for emancipation, but legal obstacles stand in the way of his freedom.
2005 96 P.

Rappaport, Doreen FREEDOM RIVER
Describes an incident in the life of John Parker, an ex-slave who became a successful businessman in Ripley, Ohio, and who repeatedly risked his life to help other slaves escape to freedom.
2000 unpaged

Rappaport, Doreen FREEDOM SHIP
May 13, 1862. Based on a true incident, this is the story of young Samuel, who works with his father on a Confederate steamship in Civil War-era South Carolina. They long to reach their freedom aboard the Union ships in the Atlantic Ocean.
2006 unpaged

Riggio, Anita SECRET SIGNS
A deaf child helps pass information along the underground railroad using his paintbrush and a panoramic egg.
1997 unpaged

Rosen, Michael A SCHOOL FOR POMPEY WALKER
At the dedication of a school named after him, an old former slave tells the story of his life and how, with the help of a white friend, he managed to save money to build a school for black children in Ohio by being repeatedly sold into and escaping from slavery.
1995 unpaged

Sanders, Scott
A PLACE CALLED FREEDOM

After being set free from slavery in 1832, young James Starman and his family journey from Tennessee to Indiana to start a new life and over the years they are joined by so many blacks that they start their own town.
1995 unpaged

Schotter, Roni F IS FOR FREEDOM
When 10-year-old Manda interrupts a midnight delivery, she discovers her parents' involvement in the Underground Railroad and makes her own contributions to a fugitive slave's freedom.
2000 95 p.

Turner, Ann
NETTIE'S TRIP SOUTH

A 10-year-old northern girl encounters the ugly realities of slavery when she visits Richmond, Virginia, and sees a slave auction. Pre-Civil War.
1987 unpaged

Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth MY NAME IS YORK
A Story of Seminole Indians
A slave describes the journey he makes with his master, Captain William Clark, into the uncharted territory of the American West to find a water passageway to the Pacific Ocean. 1803.
1997 unpaged

Walter, Mildred Pitts ALEC'S PRIMER
A young slave's journey to freedom begins when a plantation owner's granddaughter teaches him how to read. Based on the childhood of Alec Turner (1845-1923) who escaped from slavery by joining the Union Army during the Civil War.
2004 32 p.

Wesley, Valerie FREEDOM'S GIFTS
A Juneteenth Story
When a girl from New York visits her cousin in Texas, she learns the origin of Juneteenth, a holiday making the day Texan slaves realized they were free. June 19, 1865.
1997 unpaged

Wesley, Valerie FREEDOM'S GIFTS
On a cold December night in 1850, Louis must decide whether to brave the treacherous Detroit River to take a slave family to freedom.
2005 unpaged

Winter, Jeanette FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD
By following the directions in a song, "The Drinking Gourd," taught them by an old sailor named Peg Leg Joe, runaway slaves journey north along the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada.
1988 unpaged

Wright, Courtni JOURNEY TO FREEDOM
A STORY OF THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Joshua and his family, runaway slaves from a tobacco plantation in Kentucky, follow the Underground Railroad to freedom.
1994 32 p.

Wyeth, Sharon Dennis FLYING FREE
COREY'S UNDERGROUND RAILROAD DIARY

My America series, book II
In 1858, 9-year-old Corey Birdsong and his family, fugitive slaves from Kentucky, build a new life in Amherstburg, Canada, while still hoping to help those they left behind.
2002 88 p.


5th Grade and Up

Anderson, Laurie Halse CHAINS
After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.
2008 316 p.

Armstrong, Jennifer STEAL AWAY
In 1855, two 13-year-old girls, one white and one black, run away from a Virginia farm (slave state) and make the difficult journey north to freedom, living to recount their story forty-one years later to two similar girls.
1992 207 p.

Ayres, Katherine NORTH BY NIGHT
A Story of the Underground Railroad
1851 Ohio. Presents the journal of a 16-year-old girl whose family operates a stop on the Underground Railroad.
1998 176 p.

Berry, James AJEEMAH AND HIS SON
in 1807, at the height of the slave trade, Ajeemah and his son Atu are snatched in mid-stride by slave traders from their home in Africa, while en route to deliver a dowry to Atu's bride-t-be. Ajeemah and Atu are then taken to Jamaica and sold to neighboring plantations, never to see one another again.
1991 83 p.

Burtinshaw, Julie THE FREEDOM OF JENNY
Jenny Estes shares her fathers dream of freedom. But for Jenny, born into slavery in Missouri in the 1840s, freedom seems an impossible dream.
2006 182 p.

Carbone, Elisa STEALING FREEDOM
A novel based on the events in the life of a young slave girl from Maryland who endures all kinds of mistreatment and cruelty, including being separated from her fmaily, but who eventually escapes to freedom in Canada. 1853.
1998 258 p.

Collier, James WAR COMES TO WILLY FREEMAN
1775. A free thirteen-year-old black girl in Connecticut is caught up in the horror of the Revolutionary War and the danger of being returned to slavery when her patriot father is killed by the British and her mother disappears.
1983 178 p.

DeAngeli, Marguerite THEE, HANNAH!
Nine-year-old Hannah, a Quaker living in Philadelphia just before the Civil War, longs to have some fashionable dresses like other girls but comes to appreciate her heritage and its plain dressing when her family saves the life of a runaway slave.
2000 99 p.

Fox, Paula THE SLAVE DANCER
1840, New Orleans. 13-year-old Jessie Bollier, kidnapped from his New Orleans home to provide music while slaves on a slave ship exercise, learns of human cruelty and of friendship and trust.
1978 216 p.

Gaeddert, LouAnn BREAKING FREE
In 1800, shortly before his 12th birthday, Richard is sent to live with his uncle on a farm in upper New York State, where he teaches a young slave to read and encourages her to dream of freedom.
1994 136 p.

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Guccione, Leslie COME MORNING
12-year-old Freedom, the son of a freed slave living in Delaware in the early 1850's, takes over his father's work in the Underground Railroad when his father disappears.
1995 120 p.

Hahn, Mary Downing PROMISES TO THE DEAD
12-year-old Jesse leaves his home on Maryland's Eastern Shore to hlep a young runaway slave find a safe haven in the early days of the Civil War.
2000 197 p.

Hansen, Joyce THE CAPTIVE

Kofi's safe world is suddenly shattered by white men who have arrived from the coast, stealing his people to sell into slavery. Soon Kofi finds himself being led in chains from his African village to a cold farm in New England.
1994 195 p.

Hansen, Joyce I THOUGHT MY SOUL WOULD RISE AND FLY
The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl
Dear America

Mars Bluff, South Carolina 1865
12-year-old Paatsy keeps a diary of the ripe but confusing time folloing the end of the Civil War and the granting of freedom to former slaves.
1997 168 p.

Hausman, Gerald TOM CRINGLE
THE PIRATE AND THE PATRIOT

In 1813, a 14-year-old British navy lieutenant records in his logbook, a perilous journey as he and his men attempt to return a group of slaves to the Jamaican plantation from which pirates stole them: pirates who are determined to reclaim their bounty.
2001 137 p.

Hermes, Patricia ON WINTER'S WIND
As she struggles to make ends meet while maintaining her family's dignity, 11-year-old Genevieve faces the possibility of turning in a slave for the bounty. Pre-Civil War, New Bedford, MA.
1995 163 p.

Hill, Pamela A VOICE FROM THE BORDER
Living in the border state of Missouri during the Civil War, 15-year-old Reeves tries to understand her father's decision regarding their slaves.
1998 232 p.

Lasky, Kathryn TRUE NORTH
A Novel of the Underground Railroad
1858 Massachusetts/Virginia. Because of the strong influence which her grandfather, an abolitionist, has in her life, 14-year-old Lucy assists a fugitive slave girl in her escape.
1996 267 p.

Hurmence, Belinda A GIRL CALLED BOY
A pampered young black girl who has been mysteriously transported back to the days of slavery, struggles to escape her bondage.
1982 168 p.

Lyons, Mary LETTERS FROM A SLAVE GIRL
The Story of Harriet Jacobs
1825 North Carolina. A fictionalized version of the life of Harriet Jacobs, told in the form of letters that she might have written during her slavery in North Carolina and as she prepared for escape to the North in 1842.
1992 126 p.

Lyons, Mary THE POISON PLACE
1741-1827. A former slave named Moses reminisces about his famous owner, Charles Willson Peale, and the intrigue surrounding Peale's son's suspicious death.
1997 160 p.

McGill, Alice MILES' SONG
In 1851 in South Carolina, Miles, a 12-year-old slave, is sent to a "breaking ground" to have his spirit broken but endures the experience by secretly taking reading lessons from another slave.
2000 213 p.

McKissack, Patricia LOOK TO THE HILLS
THE DIARY OF LOZETTE MOREAU, A FRENCH SLAVE GIRL

New York Colony, 1763
Dear American
Brought up in France as the African slave companion of a nobleman's daughter, thirteen-year-old Zettie records the events of 1763, when she and her mistress escape to the New World where they are inadvertently drawn into the hostilities of the ongoing French and Indian War and, eventually, find a new direction to their lives.
2004 188 p.

McKissack, Patricia A PICTURE OF FREEDOM
The Diary of Clotee, a slave girl, Belmont Plantation, Virginia 1859
In 1859, 12-year-old Clotee, a house slave who must conceal the fact that she can read and write, records in her diary her experiences and her struggle to decided whether to escape to freedom.
1997 169 p.

Meadowcroft, Enid BY SECRET RAILWAY
In 1860, the world was made aware of the extent of political strife in the United States when Abraham Lincoln was nominated at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, against the bitter protests of the southern delegates. Young David Morgan, the son of a staunch Lincoln supporter and avid Abolitionist, knows about slavery, the political issues surrounding it, and the underground railroad which exists to help the runaway slave to freedom; but the issue is brought painfully close to home when a young friend and former slave is kidnapped and sold again into bondage. Set in Illinois and Missouri, the novel is rich with local color and state and national history.
1948 272 p.

Melzer, Milton UNDERGROUND MAN
A courageous young white man aids slaves escaping from Kentucky in pre-Civil War days.
1972 261 p.

Nixon, Joan Lowery WILL'S STORY:1771
Young Americans
Colonial Williamsburg

12-year-old Will Pelham's Father is the gaoler for the city of Williamsburg. Mr. Pelham took the job only a few months ago, and Will still feels uncomfortable with the prisoners in the cells beneath his family's living quarters. As he does his chores at the goal, however, he becomes sympathetic to some of the prisoners, particularly Emmanuel, a runawy slave. Then Will starts to suspect that Emmanuel is planning to escape.
2001 131 p.

O'Dell, Scott MY NAME IS NOT ANGELICA
Relates the experiences of a young Senegalese girl brought as a slave to the Danish owned Caribbean island of St. John as she participates in the slave revolt of 1733-34.
1989 129 p.

Paterson, Katherine JIP: HIS STORY
1855-56 Vermont. While living on a Vermont poor farm, Jip learns his identity and that of his mother.
1996 181 p.

Paulsen, Gary NIGHTJOHN
Twelve-year-old Sarny's brutal life as a slave becomes even more dangerous when a newly arrived slave offers to teach her how to read.
1993 92 p.

Paulsen, Gary SARNY
This sequel to NIGHTJOHN tells what happens to the slave Sarny after Nightjohn teaches her to read.
1999 180 p.

Pearsall, Shelley TROUBLE DON'T LAST
Samuel, an 11-year-old Kentucky slave, and Harrison, the elderly slave who helped raise him, attempt to escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad.
2002 203 p.

Petry, Ann TITUBA OF SALEM VILLAGE
The Salem Witch trials, 1692, condemns Tituba, a slave from Barbados.
1964 254 p.

Rinaldi, Ann HANG A THOUSAND TREES WITH RIBBONS
The Story of Phyllis Wheatley
A fictionalized biography of the 18th century African woman, who, as a child, was brought to New England to be a slave, and after publishing her first poem when a teenager, gained renown throughout the colonies as an important African-American poet.
1996 336 p.

Rinaldi, Ann WOLF BY THE EARS
Harriet Hemings, rumored to be the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, one of his black slaves, struggles with the problems facing her - to escape from the velvet cage that is Monticello, or to stay, and thus remain a slave.
1991 248 p.

Robinet, Harriette FORTY ACRES AND MAYBE A MULE
Born with a withered leg and hand, Pascal, who is about 12 years old, joins other former slaves in a search for a farm and the freedom that it promises. April 1865 Reconstruction
1998 127 p.

Robinet, Harriette THE TWINS, THE PIRATES, AND THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
12-year-old Afro-American twins attempt to escape in the face of pirates, an American army, and the British forces during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
1997 134 p.

Robinet, Harriette WASHINGTON CITY IS BURNING
In 1814 Virginia, a slave in President Madison's White House experiences the burning of Washington by the invading British army.
1996 149 p.

Ruby, Lois SOON BE FREE
13-year-old Dana investigates a mystery involving the old Kansas house that her parents have turned into a bed and breakfast business; in a parallel story, a Quaker boy living in the house in 1857 sets out to help some fugitive slaves to freedom.
2000 302 p.

Ruby, Lois STEAL AWAY HOME
In two parallel stories, a Quaker family in Kansas in the late 1850s operates a station on the Underground Railroad, while almost 150 years later twelve-year-old Dana moves into the same house and finds the skeleton of a black woman who helped the Quakers.
1994 192 p.

Shaik, Fatima MELITTE
In 1772, years of mistreatment force 13-year-old Melitte to decide whether or not to run away from the Frenchman who has kept her as a slave on his poor Louisiana farm and leave the young girl sho is the only person who ever loved her.
1997 144 p.

Siegelson, Kim HONEY BEA
On a Louisiana sugar plantation, a young slave girl struggles with the magical powers that have been passed down from her grandmother and mother to her, unsure of the responsibilities and consequences that accompany this power.
2006 276 p.

Smucker, Barbara RUNAWAY TO FREEDOM
Two young slave girls escape from a plantation in Mississippi and wind a hazardous route toward freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad.
1977 152 p.

Stolz, Mary CEZANNE PINTO
A Memoir
In his old age, Cezanne Pinto recalls his youth as a slave on a Virginia plantation and his escape to a new life in the North.
1994 279 p.

Wait, Lea SEAWARD BORN
In 1805, a 13-year-old slave and his friend make a dangerous escape from Charleston, S.C., and stow away to head north toward freedom.
2003 150 p.

Walter, Mildred Pitts SECOND DAUGHTER
The Story of a Slave Girl
Aissa, the teen-age fictional sister of Elizabeth Freeman, struggles against a system which declares that she is property and that she is to remain silent. 1781 just before the Revolution.
1996 214 p.

Wisler, G. Clifton CALEB'S CHOICE
While living in Texas in 1858, 14-year-old Caleb faces a dilemma in deciding whether or not to assist fugitive slaves in their run for freedom.
1996 150 p.

Woodrudd, Elvira DEAR AUSTIN
Letters from the Underground Railroad
In 1853, in letters to his older brother, 11-year-old Levi describes his adventures in the Pennsylvania countryside with his black friend Jupiter and his experiences with the Underground Railroad.
1998 137 p.

Wyeth, Sharon ONCE ON THIS RIVER
It is 1760. Monday de-Groot and her mother, Leslie, a midwife, sail from their home in Madagascar to New York, to testify on behalf of Leslis's brother Frederick, who has been falsely imprisoned and taken as a slave.
1997 181 p.

Yarbro, Chelsea Quinn FOUR HORSES FOR TISHTRY
Tishtry's wish to buy her family's freedom from slavery in the Roman Empire inspires her to perform dangerous feats of stunt riding.
1985 214 p.


Teen

Draper, Sharon COPPER SUN
1738. Two fifteen-year-old girls--one a slave and the other an indentured servant--escape their Carolina plantation and try to make their way to Fort Mose, (pronounced Mo-ZAY),Florida, a Spanish colony that gives sanctuary to slaves.
2006 302

Mosley, Walter 47
Number 47, a fourteen-year-old slave boy growing up under the watchful eye of a brutal master in 1832, meets the mysterious Tall John, who introduces him to a magical science and also teaches him the meaning of freedom.
2005 232