The Underground Railroad: navigate the journey from slavery to freedom
by Judy Dodge Cummings; illus. by Tom Casteel
128 pages; ages 9-12
Nomad Press, 2017
This book opens with an explanation of what slavery is and what the abolitionist movement was. It will help readers glimpse what life was like for enslaved people, and how they fought the system that shackled them.
The cool thing about this book: it’s like going on a field trip into the past. As with any expedition, you’ll want to grab your notebook and pencil to record ideas, observations, and reactions as you work through the activities.
There are 20 activities, starting with how to interpret statistics. Though graphs and statistics help put huge numbers into perspective (11.3 million enslaved men, women, and children brought to the Americas) they are impersonal. So how do you put a human face on the people who suffered?
Other activities include making a hoe cake, creating your own abolitionist broadside, writing coded messages, and learning navigation skills. Through the reading, we get to know Frederick Douglass, Isaac Hopper and his society of abolitionists, black businessmen who put themselves in danger to help fugitives, and Harriet Tubman. Excerpts of primary sources and links to online primary sources help connect readers to historic events.
Shackles From the Deep: tracing the path of a sunken slave ship
by Michael Cottman
128 pages; ages 10 & up
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2017
Michael Cottman is an African-American journalist and deep sea diver. So when he learns of artifacts found in a shipwreck off the coast of Key West, artifacts from a slave ship, he wants to dive right in and learn more. His curiosity takes him on an excellent adventure to uncover the mystery surrounding the ship, Henrietta Marie.
The ship sank in the early 1700s, but it wasn’t until 1972 that anyone had found it. And that discovery came about when a treasure hunter was seeking a different wreck. Instead of gold, he found shackles small enough to imprison a child.
When Cottman was invited to help with the underwater memorial at the site of the slave ship, he decided he wanted to learn more: who owned this ship? Who made the shackles and cannons? Who was the captain? The crew?
He wanted to retrace the route the Henrietta Marie took from London down to the west coast of Africa, and then to the Americas. He came to realize that slavery, for a ship captain back in the 1600s – 1700s was simply a business. African people weren’t referred to as humans but as cargo. Not only is this a great adventure and mystery – it’s a true story.
It’s Nonfiction Monday!
Copyright © 2017 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.