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Freedom Stories

There are incredible stories in history: tough tales, tales of bravery and resolve, of heartbreak and triumph. Some are told in poetry, others in prose, still others are told with pictures; some are true, others are fictionalized.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Freedom Song! The Story of Henry "Box" Brown

By: Sally Walker
Illustrated by: Sean Qualls
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

His unusual escape from slavery — in a box mailed to Philadelphia — is told in a conversational, folksy style illustrated with evocative illustrations. The cadence of the text calls to mind the music and song that were always important to Henry Brown.

Freedom's a-Callin Me

By: Ntozake Shange
Illustrated by: Rod Brown
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated poems, often in dialect, are accompanied by haunting paintings to chronicle a group of enslaved people escaping north to freedom. Older readers will most appreciate this sometimes (necessarily) harsh portrait of escape, slave trackers, and the trek north.

My Uncle Martin's Words for America

By: Angela Farris Watkins
Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Martin Luther King's niece recalls how the power of her uncle's words and his strength of conviction changed the United States. Realistic illustrations, straightforward language, and factual back matter create an accessible glimpse of the man and his place in history.

The Great Migration: Journey to the North

By: Eloise Greenfield
Illustrated by: Jan Spivey Gilchrest
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

"Between 1915 and 1930, more than a million African Americans…moved to the North" including the poet's family. Join the travelers as they seek a better life in a different part of the United States. Rhythmic but not rhyming verse is complemented by evocative illustrations.

Underground

By: Shane Evans
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Brief, staccato text and dark-hued, mixed-media illustrations convey the drama of enslaved people escaping on the Underground Railroad. There is limited light and grave danger until the family reaches freedom in this seemingly simple yet rich and sophisticated book.

We March

By: Shane Evans
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Two children aroused by their parents join a march for equal rights.  Short sentences and semi-abstract illustrations convey the children's evolving feelings as they join scores of others in what adults recognize as an historic march for civil rights.

When Grandmama Sings

By: Margaree King Mitchell
Illustrated by: James Ransome
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Belle goes with her talented grandmother on a singing tour during a time of racial segregation in the south in the 1950s. Grandmama decides to continue performing up north "where things were a little easier for black people." Realistic watercolors help define the setting.

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass

By: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrated by: James Ransome
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A young Frederick Douglass narrates this handsome, moving, and authentic story of his early life as a slave, his desire to learn, and plans to escape slavery. The child who grew up to be an abolitionist, memorable writer, and orator knew that words — reading — would set him free.

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"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss