The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
skip navigation
February 2004

Journey to Freedom · Books for Children

Easy Books

Li’l Dan, the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story
Romare Bearden
When a company of black Union soldiers tells L’il Dan that he is no longer a slave, he follows them, and uses his beloved drum to save them from attack.

To Be a Drum
Evelyn Coleman
Daddy Wes recounts the history of African Americans for his two children and promises them that as long as they can hear the rhythm of the earth, they will be free.

Under the Quilt of Night
Deborah Hopkinson
A young slave narrates the story of her escape from a cruel master and her terrifying journey along the Underground Railroad to freedom in the north.

Jalani and the Lock
Lorenzo Pace
Jalani, a freed slave, gives the lock that held him in chains to his eldest child as a symbol of his enslavement and “so they would never forget where they all came from.” Based on the biography by Pace’s great great grandfather.

Imani’s Music
Sheron Williams
Williams celebrates the power of music and storytelling, in this story of Imani, an African grasshopper swept into the hold of a slave ship, who brings a special gift to the New World.

Juvenile Fiction

Stealing Freedom
Elisa Lynn Carbone
Carbone’s exhaustive research into the life of Ann Maria Weems, a slave who lived in Maryland in the 1800s, forms the foundation of this book about a young girl’s courageous journey from a Maryland farm to Canada.

Promises to the Dead
Mary Downing Hahn
In the early days of the Civil War, twelve-year-old Jesse leaves his home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to help a young runaway slave find a safe haven.

Trouble Don’t Last
Shelley Pearsall
Samuel, an eleven-year-old Kentucky slave, and Harrison, the elderly slave who helped raise him, attempt to escape to Canada via the Underground Railroad.

Seaward Born
Lea Wait
In 1805, a thirteen-year-old slave and his friend make a dangerous escape from Charleston, S.C. as stowaways on a ship bound for Boston.

Freedom’s Wings, Flying Free, and Message in the Sky
Sharon Dennis Wyeth
This trio of books chronicles the story of Corey, a Kentucky slave who stages a successful escape to Canada and eventually becomes an Underground Railroad Conductor.


Freedom Roads: Searching for the Underground Railroad
Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan
j973.7115 H249 2003
Hansen and McGown offer readers a compelling behind-the-scenes study of the methods and tools used by historians and archaeologists studying the origins and development of the Underground Railroad.

Harriet and the Promised Land
Jacob Lawrence
j811 qL4212h 1993
Combining his dramatic, vibrant artwork with spare, rhythmic prose, Lawrence offers readers a powerful tribute to the life and work of Harriet Tubman.

From Slave Ship to Freedom Road
Julius Lester
j759.13 qB879Zl 1998
Magnificent paintings by Rod Brown support this moving account of the history of slavery.

Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States
Pat McKissack
j973.7 qM158 2003
Using a variety of documents, including slave narratives, letters, diaries, and military orders, the authors chronicle the gradual end of slavery.

Freedom River
Doreen Rappaport
j973.7115 qP241Zr 2000
The story of John Parker, a former slave who became a successful businessman in Ripley, Ohio, and who repeatedly risked his life to help other slaves escape to freedom.