Living Books: Underground Railroad and Freedom from Slavery

I read slowly and carefully while my children hung to my every word.

The running, hiding, and terror, in the story,  edged my kids on to root for the poor colored family that was trying to find the way to freedom and happiness. 

All too soon, in the middle of an exciting moment, I had to place the bookmark in our chapter and shut the book, announcing that this is where we needed to stop for now.

Their cries of “No, No! Keep reading! Please?!” Made my husband and I smile. Not only was this quality family time together, but we were all learning about the underground railroad.

Living Book list about the underground railroad and getting freedom from slavery

Living books in your homeschool is a great and memorable way to teach your child about all sorts of topics. If you’re unsure what a living book is and how to use them in your homeschool this article will help you out. How to use Living Books Effectively in Your Homeschool. 

The following books are ones that I’ve picked up at yard sales or book sales, and they are really good. Our family has really enjoyed them, and if you can borrow them from the library or purchase them on the internet, your kids can enjoy them too. 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Amos Fortune; Free Man

Written by Elizabeth Yates

This story is based on a true story, about a fifteen year old boy in a tribal village in Africa. He is prince of this African tribe, but is taken captive by slave traders from America. He watches his parents die, and is torn apart from his disabled little sister.

In America, he is given the name of Amos, and is sold as a slave. This book tells the story of how Amos worked hard, obeyed his masters, saved his money, and thought about others.

Amos’ life mission was to work hard and long enough to buy his own freedom and then to buy the freedom of others, particularly of disabled young ladies.

Amos’ problems never stopped as he dealt with racial prejudice, and the injustices that people caused him. But, Amos rises above it all, and teaches the reader that love toward others is the most important, and that is how to have true freedom.

This is an excellent book.

Your child will be introduced to tribal customs and life in an African village, and as Amos learns the trade of tanning, your child will be learning about that as well.

There are no pictures in this book, but Elizabeth Yates does a good job of making the story come alive with her vivid details.

Living Book descriptions about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglas

Stealing South: A Story of the Underground Railroad

Written by Katherine Ayres

Sixteen year old Will is ready to leave home and make his own way in the world.

Following in his family’s footsteps, of helping runaway slaves, Will promises to help a separated slave find his other family members and get them north to the free states.
Will’s eyes are open to the horrible reality of slave breeding, but through this topic, Will is able to assist a whole wagon load of slaves escape the south.

A picture of book covers from stories about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

This is a good book that will keep you reading.

The topic of slave breeding  took me by surprise because I had never thought about that aspect of slavery and of farmers making a profit, literally by selling their good “slave-stock” for higher dollar amounts.

Katherine Ayres does a good job of making the story come alive, but I wish that she would have watched Will’s vocabulary more, as he says “durn it” quite a bit.

Will’s experiences keep the reader reading, as the poor child  has plenty of trials to go through, as he becomes a peddler in the south.

He faces his own medical emergencies, getting lost, being chased by mean men, being chased by dogs, and swimming for his life against raging river currents.

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
 – Robert Louis Stevenson

From Slave to Soldier: Based on a True Civil War Story

Written by Deborah Hopkinson
This book is a Ready to Read, Level Three book: Rich vocabulary, more-challenging stories, and longer chapters.

This wonderful reader includes a colorful map at the beginning showing your learner the free states and the slave states. There is plenty of colorful illustrations that help your elementary-age child figure out the words of the story.

Little Johnny works hard every day at his chores, to please his master.

He takes care of the cows and helps make butter. Unfortunately, Johnny receives no thanks for his long days of work, and even at times gets punished when something doesn’t go right.

When Johnny comes across some union soldiers out in a field, Johnny has to make up his mind if he wants to go back to his master, or join the army and be free. Johnny chooses the army, and soon finds himself working hard with the mule teams.

Living book summaries that have been written about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

Johnny has to prove himself to the others, that he can drive the mules, as a flash flood is washing out a bridge that he is crossing.

In the end, Johnny really does become a free army man, and the captain gives him his own uniform.

This story is based on the real life of John McCline.

It is a good book for a little person, with just enough suspense to make it great, but not too scary.

“The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.” – Benjamin Franklin

The Drinking Gourd: The Story of the Underground Railroad

Written by: F.N. Monjo
An I Can Read book, Level 3, for grades 2-4

Little Tommy is sure to get into trouble because he just can’t sit still during the church service.

When he disrupts the entire congregation and the service, his dad sends him home.
Once home, Tommy discovers there are runaway slaves hiding out in his dad’s barn.

Tommy is given a big job to hide and then drive the hiding slaves to the next station on the railroad.

Picture of the book cover for The Drinking Gourd

How does Tommy know that squirming and getting in trouble at church is the exact thing he needed to get out from under the sheriff’s watchful eye?

This book is filled with great pictures and large text. It is perfect for the beginning reader.

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney

Riverboat Adventure Series (Also known as The Freedom Seekers)

This extraordinary series of six books will have you on the edge of your seat as soon as you start page one.

You won’t want to miss any book in this set.

The titles are:
1. Escape into the Night
2. Race for Freedom
3. Midnight Rescue
4. The Swindler’s Treasure
5. Mysterious Signal
6. The Fiddler’s Secret
This series was written by Louis Walfrid Johnson
For ages 8-13

After the death of her mother, thirteen year-old Libby Norstad gets to travel full-time with her dad on his boat, The Christina.

Mr. Norstad, uses his boat to hide and transport runaway slaves up north. Caleb, Mr. Norstad’s fourteen year-old cabin boy, is a helping hand to the hiding slaves, and soon Libby realizes that something on the ship isn’t what it seems.

When Libby learns the harsh reality of slavery, and the ability to help slaves, Libby pleads with her dad and Caleb to help out on the underground railroad.

Unfortunately, Libby’s mouth and actions get ahead of her thinking and she says and does things that jeopardize the safety of her “cargo”.

Many different people ride on The Christina, and Libby and Caleb often find themselves in dangerous situations with slave catchers on board.

Pictures of book covers from stories about the underground railroad and freedom from slavery

Within all of the books, Libby and Caleb attempt to rescue Jordan and his entire family and get them north. They must not be spotted and caught by the awful dangerous Riggs, Jordan’s slave catcher.

With disguises, detours, and disasters, they barely miss being captured.

All the while, Mr. Norstad runs a tight ship, hiding fugitives, battling storms, dealing with sabatoge, and almost losing The Christina with financial troubles.

Libby learns to deal with anger, jealousy, and fear by trusting in God. Louis Walfrid Johnson does an excellent job within the stories, weaving in biblical principals and the gospel message.

There are a few pencil drawn pictures throughout each book that are very well done, and add just enough visual help to keep the characters real in our minds.

Each book comes with a layout of The Christina, which is really interesting to look at.

While reading, your child will be exposed to plenty of boat terminology and seaman terms.

Also, many river names and states are mentioned as the Norstads and Caleb travel.

Some books have really good maps in the beginning so you can follow along as The Christina travels north.

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