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African American Resources

Frederick Douglass

Robert Hall, the director for education from the Anacostia Centre for African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C., recommends these wonderful books for children who are learning more about the African American people.

Life in Africa/The Middle Passage/Arrival


Johnson, Dolores.  Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family. Illustrated by author.   New York: Macmillan, 1993.

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


Johnson, LaVerne C.  Kumi and Chanti.  Illustrated by Craig Rex Perry.  Chicago: Empak Enterprises, 1992.

            How two African children began their stories of African American History 


Williams, Sheron.  Imaniís Music.  Illustrated by Jude Daly.  New York: Atheneum , 2002.

            Imani, an African grasshopper, brings music to the new world when he travels aboard a slave ship.


Plantation Life


Hathorn, Libby.  Sky Sash So Blue.  Illustrated by Benny Andrews.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.

            The special sky blue sash that a young slave girl gives her older sister for her wedding dress becomes a tie that binds the family together when the sister moves away.


McGill, Alice.  In the Hollow of Your Hand: Slave Lullabies.  Illustrated by Michael Cummings.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

            A collection of lullabies orally transmitted by enslaved African Americans revealing their hardships, sorrows, and a belief in a better time to come.  Also includes a CD of the songs.


Porter, Connie.  Meet Addy: An American Girl.  Illustrated by Melodye Rosales.  Middleton, WI: Pleasant, 1993.

            Nine-year old Addy Walker escapes from a cruel life of slavery to freedom during the Civil War.


Ringgold, Faith.  The Invisible Princess.  Illustrated by the author.  New York: Crown, 1999.

            Mama and Papa Love have a child, the Invisible Princess, who saves them and the other plantation slaves from their cruel master so that they can all find happiness in the Invisible Village of Peace, Freedom, and Love.


San Souci, Robert D.  The Secret of the Stones.  Illustrated by James Ransome.  New York: Penguin Putnam, 2000.

            When they try to find out who is doing their chores while thy are working in the fields, a childless couple discovers that the two stones they have brought home are actually two bewitched orphans.


Smalls, Irene.  Jenny Reen and the Jack Muh Lantern.  Illustrated by Keinyo White.  New York: Atheneum, 1996.

            Sister Louisa, who cares for Jenny Reen while her parents work in the field, warns the young slave girl about a monster, known from longĖago tales, who comes out on Halloween.


Wright, Courtni C.  Jumping the Broom.  Illustrated by Gershom Griffith.  New York: Holiday House, 1994.

            Eight-year old Lettie describes the preparations for her sisterís wedding and the day itself, a day of celebration in the slave quarters, where free time for fun is infrequent.   



Seeking Freedom (Underground Railroad)


Brill, Marlene Targ.  Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad.  Illustrated by Janice Lee Porter.  Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1993.

            Recounts how Allen Jay, a young Quaker boy living in Ohio during the 1840s, helped a fleeing slave escape his master and make it to freedom through the Underground Railroad.


Edwards, Pamela Duncan.  Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad.  Illustrated by Henry Cole.  New York: HarperCollins, 1997.

            A group of animals help a runaway slave escape his pursuers.


Hopkinson, Deborah.  Under the Quilt of Night.  Illustrated by James E. Ransome.  New York: Atheneum Books, 2001.

            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.


Rappaport, Doreen.  Freedom River.  Illustrated by Bryan Collier.  New York: Hyperion Books, 2000.

            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.


Sanders, Scott Russell.   A Place Called Freedom.  Illustrated by Thomas B. Allen New York: Antheneum Books, 1997.

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


Siegelson, Kim.  Escape South.  Illustrated by Shelley Jackson.  New York: A Golden Book, 2000.

            Ben and his family escape from their slave-owner and go to Florida, where they join other black families who are living with the Seminole Indians and help them fight to keep their lands.



Post Civil War


Lowery, Linda.  Aunt Clara Brown Official Pioneer.  Illustrated by Janice Lee Porter.  Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1999.

            A biography of Clara Brown who after becoming free made her fortune in Colorado and used her money to bring other former slaves there to begin new lives.




All Ages


Bolden, Tonya.  Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America.  Illustrated.  New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001.


This scrapbook speaks to all readers.  From the first recorded birth of a black child in Jamestown, through the Revolution, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the fight for civil rights, this book explores what it has meant to be young and black in America.






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Last updated July 25, 2003