CurriConnects Book List - Slavery
As you study slavery, consider sharing these titles with your students. This collection includes fiction, historical fiction, and informational text. This is a challenging topic, especially for younger students. Use these books to help students gain a deeper understanding of slavery.
Unspoken - Henry Cole, (9780545399975), Fiction
Interest level: 5-9
In this wordless book, a young girl finds a runaway slave in her barn and has her courage tested.
Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad - Pamela Duncan Edwards, (978-0064435192), Fiction
Interest level: 4-8, Lexile: 640
Animals in the forest guide an escaped slave to safety and freedom.
Hush Harbor: Praying in Secret - Freddi Williams Evans, (978-0822579656), Fiction
Interest level: K-4, Lexile: 760
Slaves create a church in the wild while a member guards their safety from a high perch in a tree.
Most Loved in All the World - Tonya Cherie Hegamin, (618-419039), Fiction
Interest level: K-6, Lexile: 530
Mama sacrifices her own personal freedom to help others to safety while working as an agent on the Underground Railroad.
Walking Home with Rosie Lee - A. LaFaye, (978-1933693972), Fiction
Interest level: 1-4, Lexile: 910
Young Gabe sets off after the Civil War ends to locate his mother, a former slave whom he was separated from when she was sold.
The Escape of Oney Judge - Emily Arnold McCully, (978-0374322250), Fiction
Interest level: K-4, Lexile: 770
A young black woman escapes from her life as a slave in the household of the first President of the U.S., George Washington.
I am Harriet Tubman - Brad Meltzer, (9780735228719), Non-fiction
Interest level: 5-9, Lexile: 560
Harriet Tubman was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. She began life as a slave and went on to become a leader in the anti-slavery movement.
Almost to Freedom - Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, (978-1575053424), Fiction
Interest level: K-4, Lexile: 530
A young girl's rag doll narrates this tale of her escape from the American South to freedom via the Underground Railroad.
Big Jabe - Jerdine Nolen, (978-0060540616), Fiction
Interest level: K-5, Lexile: 610
Addy finds a miracle baby floating in a basket near a cotton field. After he reaches manhood in just a few months, the miracles he helps take place continue including changing an old horse into a racer, and helping slaves escape to freedom.
Before She Was Harriett - Lesa-Cline Ransome, (9780823444298), Non-fiction
Interest level: 5-9
Harriet Tubman was known by many different names throughout her life. This beautifully written biography introduces readers to them.
Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky - Faith Ringgold, (978-0517885437), Fiction
Interest level: K-12, Lexile: 760
Cassie follows Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad to get to freedom and her brother.
F is for Freedom - Roni Schotter, (978-1463753603), Fiction
Interest level: 1-6, Lexile: 740
Manda accidentally learns about the Underground Railroad support in her household and starts to help her parents shelter escaping slaves.
I Want to be Free - Joseph Slate, (978-0399243424), Fiction
Interest level: K-4, Lexile: 150
A slave who is fleeing the chains of his masters saves an abandoned baby from a fate similar to his own.
Nettie's Trip South - Ann Turner, (978-0689801174), Fiction
Interest level: K-6, Lexile: 860
A northern young woman, traveling to Virginia, sees the grimness of the slave trade when she sees slaves for sale in Richmond.
Follow the Drinking Gourd - Jeanette Winter, (978-0394896946), Fiction
Interest level: K-3, Lexile: 630
A group of runaway slaves follows the directions in a traditional song to escape from slavery.
Middle Grade Books
Unbound - Ann Burg, (978-1338282085), Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 900
Grace is called to the Master's house to begin her enslaved work. She sees how cruel the Master and Missus are and begins to question what makes white people better than black people. She questions how one group can own another group. When her family has to flee in the middle of the night, they find refuge in the Great Dismal Swamp.
Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery - Winifred Conkling, (978-1616205508), Non-fiction
Interest level: 12-15, Lexile: 1160
Emiliy Edmonson and her family boarded a ship in Washington, DC, thinking they were sailing north to freedom. Instead, the ship sailed south to New Orleans, where they were sold into worse conditions. This book follows her path from enslaved child to a teacher at a school for African American girls.
Elijah of Buxton - Christopher Paul Curtis, (978-0439023450), Fiction
Interest level: 9-12, Lexile: 980
Elijah is the first child to be born in a settlement of runaway slaves in Canada. He is not well-liked and most of his community members see him as weak. Elijah proves his strength when a former slave steals money from his friend and Elijah vows to get it back.
In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives - Kenneth Dawson, (978-1250144119), Non-fiction
Interest level: 10 and Up, Lexile: 1110
The stories of enslaved people are often overlooked in conversations about slavery. Kenneth Dawson has researched the stories of five enslaved people and shares them in this title.
Day of Tears - Julius Lester, (978-1423104094), Fiction
Interest level: 10-14
Over two days in March in 1859, the largest slave auction in American history took place in Savannah, Georgia. Told in multiple voices from multiple points of view, this book tells the story of that day, when the sky weeped.
Freewater - Amina Luqman-Dawson, (978-0316056618), Fiction
Interest level: 10 and Up
Homer and his younger sister, Ada, escape slavery by running to the swamp. They find support in a community of free people, but they long for their mother. Using a handmade map, Homer and his new friends return to the plantation to help lead his mother and his friend, Anna, to freedom.
Young Adult Books (ages 12-18; Grades 7 and up)
Copper Sun - Sharon Draper, (978-1416953487), Fiction
Interest level: 14 and Up, Lexile: 820
Amari had a good life in Africa. One night, she is stolen from her village and taken into slavery in the Carolinas. Bought by a plantation owner and given to his son as a birthday gift, Amari is determined to stay alive and find freedom in America. She meets a white indentured servant named Molly, and the two escape to freedom in Florida.
The Yellow Wife - Sadequa Johnson, (978-1982149116), Fiction
Interest level: Adult
Pheby has lived a life shielded from many of the horrors of slavery. Expecting freedom on her eighteeth birthday, her world is turned upside down when she ends up at the Devil's Half Acre, a slave jail in Richmond, Virginia. Still a slave, but in an elevated postition, she has to navigate her new Master's contradictions.
Letters from a Slave Girl - Mary Lyons, (978-1416936374), Fiction
Interest level: 5-12, Lexile: 880
This epistolary novel creates letters famed Harriet Jacobs might have written as she prepared for and escaped from the South during the Civil War.
In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber - Louis Meyer, (978-0152061661), Fiction
Interest level: Adult, Lexile: 1040
Jacky and several classmates end up on a slave ship en route to a slave market in Africa.
Nightjohn - Gary Paulsen, (978-0440219361), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 770
Samy's already stressful life in slavery gets added risk when she accepts another slave's offer to teach her to read in this novel for mature audiences.
Sarny - Gary Paulsen, (978-0440219736), Fiction
Interest level: 6-12, Lexile: 840
After Sarny learns to read following the Civil War, she teaches many other former slaves the same skill.
Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons - Ann Rinaldi, (978-0152053932), Fiction
Interest level: 6 and Up, Lexile: 560
One of America's most beloved poets lived as an enslaved person. Phillis Wheatly was kidnapped from her home in Senegal and sold as a slave. In 1761, she was purchased by the Wheatly family.
An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley - Ann Rinaldi, (978-0152063986), Fiction
Interest level: 4-9, Lexile: 740
Two very different women, upper class Mary Todd Lincoln, and African American Lizzy Keckley, grow up separately in different worlds, but become great friends once Lincoln is in the White House.
Steal Away Home - Lois Ruby, (978-0689824357), Fiction
Interest level: 8-12, Lexile: 890
150 years after the Civil War, a young girl finds the skeleton and story of an African American woman who helped the Quakers.