15 Best Children's Books About Slavery in 2024

Discover the best children's books about slavery. From historical fiction for middle school to picture books for all ages and grade levels.
Welcome to an insightful journey through the '15 best children's books about slavery,' written by Muhiuddin Alam on the book recommendations and reviews site, ReadingAndThinking.com.

Over the years as a leading authority on literary expertise, I've created numerous articles on the topics of Parenting and Children's Reads, many of which can be found on this site.

I have received many requests to recommend some of the best books about slavery. In response, I'm pleased to offer my expert recommendations in this article.

I will recommend children's books about slavery in this post, which is based on my in-depth study and testing in this field. Such as Freedom in Congo Square, Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky, Many Thousand Gone, Before She Was Harriet, and Show Way.

These aren't the only books on this topic. Below, you'll find 15 books with detailed descriptions of each of these outstanding resources, helping you make well-informed decisions to choose good books about slavery.


15 Best Children's Books About Slavery in 2024

The advancement of production tools leads to the development of productive forces, the accumulation of surplus materials, the differentiation of the gap between the rich and the poor, the emergence of class conflicts, the emergence of commodity exchanges, the emergence of the social division of labor, the emergence of the state and supporting military institutions of violence, the emergence of legal systems and administrative institutions, and the development of productive forces. 

Lead to the progress of production relations, and the economic base leads to a qualitative change in the superstructure. 

History is always going forward with twists and turns, and history will never go backward for a long time. 

The slave society developed from the primitive society, which inevitably determined that the former must be more advanced. 

Here we recommend the 15 best children's books about slavery that you should read in 2024. 

1. Freedom in Congo Square 


Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford 

"They work endlessly, counting the days and looking forward to Sunday, because on Sunday at least half a day can be a short meeting in Congo Square, free to set up an open-air market, sing, dance, and play music." 

If you stand from a critical point of view See, this is similar to compensatory benefits after deprivation of rights, and it cannot touch the root of the inequality of black slavery. 

But at that time, this only designated square with half-day freedom must also undertake the possibility of sharing, exchanging, nurturing, and inheriting true freedom.

In the 2017 Caldecott Silver Award picture book, picture books reflecting racial issues are rarely introduced. This is the only picture book on racial issues that has been introduced among Caldecott Award-winning works in recent years. 

The description of the hard work and life of black people in this picture book seems to be only to express their desire for freedom and happiness after a short period of freedom. The painting style of the picture book even reminds me of the cave paintings of primitive society, which have a primitive vitality. The first half of the picture book shows the hard work. 

The picture uses a lot of natural colors of green, brown, and yellow. It seems that all the colors are depicting reality. The external environment of the painting does not express the emotions of the characters. Although the text is about hard work and oppression, the picture feels a silent vitality. 

The second half uses red, orange, and orange to express this vitality. The environment is faded, and the colors are all used to express the emotions of the characters. It seems that only this kind of vitality that erupts in short-term freedom can nourish the music style that is popular in the world.

2. Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky 


Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold 

The main character of Coretta Scott King Award and Caldecott Honor winner Tar Beach takes flight once again, encountering Harriet Tubman and learning about the Underground Railroad.

Cassie, who flew above New York in Tar Beach, soars into the sky once more. This time, she and her brother Be Be meet a train full of people, and Be Be joins them. But the train departs before Cassie can climb aboard. With Harriet Tubman as her guide, Cassie retraces the steps escaping slaves took on the real Underground Railroad and is finally reunited with her brother at the story's end.

3. Many Thousand Gone 


Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton 

Unavailable for several years, Virginia Hamilton’s award-winning companion to The People Could Fly traces the history of slavery in America in the voices and stories of those who lived it. Leo and Diane Dillon’s brilliant black-and-white illustrations echo the stories’ subtlety and power, making this book about slavery as stunning to look at as it is to read.

“There is probably no better way to convey the meaning of the institution of slavery as it existed in the United States to young readers than by using, as a text to share and discuss, Many Thousand Gone.” —The New York Times Book Review. 

4. Before She Was Harriet 


Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome 

We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman, she was a Union spy. Like Moses, she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. 

As Minty, she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. As Araminta, she was a young girl whose father showed her the stars and the first steps on the path to freedom.

This lush, lyrical biography in verse begins with a glimpse of Harriet Tubman as an old woman and travels back in time through the many roles she played throughout her life: spy, liberator, suffragist, and more. 

Illustrated by James Ransome, whose paintings for The Creation won a Coretta Scott King medal, this is a riveting introduction to an American hero.

5. Show Way 


Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson 

The artistic expression of this book about slavery is also very beautiful, and it is very enjoyable to watch. Tells the history of black America's quest for freedom through the fate of black girls across generations. 

I really liked one of the pages. Under the dark starry sky, the phantom black mother took care of the little girl and told her, "There is a way here, child, there is a way here."

Sooner great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, and with only some fabric and needles to call her own. 

She pieced together bright patches with names like North Star and Crossroads, patches with secret meanings made into quilts called Show Waysmaps for slaves to follow to freedom. 

When she grew up and had a little girl, she passed on this knowledge. Generations later, Sooniewho was born free and taught her own daughter how to sew beautiful quilts to be sold at the market and how to read.

From slavery to freedom, through segregation, freedom marches, and the fight for literacy, the tradition called Show Way has been passed down by the women in Jacqueline Woodson's family as a way to remember the past and celebrate the possibilities of the future. 

Beautifully rendered in Hudson Talbott's luminous art, this moving, lyrical account pays tribute to women whose strength and knowledge illuminate their daughters' lives.

6. Overground Railroad 


Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome 

Climbing aboard the New York-bound Silver Meteor train, Ruth Ellen embarks upon a journey toward a new life up North-- one she can't begin to imagine. Stop by stop, the perceptive young narrator tells her journey in poems, leaving behind the cotton fields and distant Blue Ridge mountains.

Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields to give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view. 

As they travel, Ruth Ellen reads from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, reflecting on how her journey mirrors her own-- until finally, the train arrives at its last stop, New York's Penn Station and the family heads out into a night filled with bright lights, glimmering stars, and new possibility.

James Ransome's mixed-media illustrations are full of bold color and texture, bringing Ruth Ellen's journey to life, from sprawling cotton fields to cramped train cars, the wary glances of other passengers, and the dark forest through which Frederick Douglass traveled towards freedom. 

Overground Railroad is, as Lesa notes, a story "of people who were running from and running to at the same time," and it's a story that will stay with readers long after the final pages.

7. The Patchwork Path 


The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom by Bettye Stroud 

The images stitched into Hannah's patchwork quilt lead to secret signposts on the Underground Railroad as she and her father take flight from slavery on a perilous path to freedom.

The wagon wheel. The bear's paw. The flying geese. These are some of the squares in the quilt Hannah's mama helped her to sew -- before Hannah's sister was sold to another plantation and before Mama died of a broken heart. 

Now that Hannah's papa has decided to make the run for freedom, this patchwork quilt is not just a precious memento of Mama -- it's a series of hidden clues that will guide them along the Underground Railroad to Canada, where they'll finally be free. 

A fictionalized account of fascinating oral history, THE PATCHWORK PATH tells the story of a brave father and his young daughter, two of thousands who escaped a life of slavery and made the dangerous journey to freedom -- a story of courage, determination, and hope.

8. From Slave Ship to Freedom Road 


From Slave Ship to Freedom Road by Julius Lester 

Rod Brown and Julius Lester bring history to life in this profoundly moving exploration of the slave experience. 

From the Middle Passage to the auction block, from the whipping post to the fight for freedom, this book about slavery presents not just historical facts, but the raw emotions of the people who lived them. 

Inspired by Rod Brown's vivid paintings, Julius Lester has written a text that places each of us squarely inside the skin of both slave and slaveowner. It will capture the heart of every reader, black or white, young or old.

9. Trailblazers: Harriet Tubman 


Trailblazers: Harriet Tubman: A Journey to Freedom by Sandra A. Agard 

Fans of the movie Harriet can find out more in this biography! In 1849, Harriet Tubman crossed a very important line--the Mason-Dixon Line. She had escaped slavery! 

Despite grave risks, she went on to become the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping hundreds of enslaved people reach freedom. From an early age, Harriet always had a deep faith and a strong sense of justice. Find out how she became one of history's greatest trailblazers!

Trailblazers is a biography series that celebrates the lives of amazing pioneers, past and present, from all over the world. Get inspired by more Trailblazers: Neil Armstrong, Jackie Robinson, Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, Beyoncé, and Simone Biles. What kind of trail will you blaze?

10. Harriet Tubman (Little People, Big Dreams)



Harriet Tubman by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vergara 

Little Harriet was born into slavery on a plantation in Maryland. Though life was hard, Harriet persisted. She used all of her strength and bravery to escape slavery and journey north on the Underground Railroad. 

Harriet made the dangerous mission back to the South many times, fighting her whole life to bring others with her to freedom. This moving book about slavery features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the abolitionist's life.

Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream.

This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. 

Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children.

11. Henry's Freedom Box 


Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine 

A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist.

Henry Brown doesn't know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves' birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. 

Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold on the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. 

After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday -- his first day of freedom.

12. Freedom Over Me 


Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan

Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than a chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as…a lantern.

This gentle yet deeply powerful way goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that can’t be bought or sold: dreams. 

Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers,” the author has created collages around that document, and others like it.

Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry, he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about—their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an overseer or Madam ever would guess. 

Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.

13. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt 


Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson 

An inspiring tale of creativity and determination on the Underground Railroad from Coretta Scott King Award winner James Ransome and acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson.

Clara, a slave, and seamstress on Home Plantation, dreams of freedom—not just for herself, but for her family and friends. When she overhears a conversation about the Underground Railroad, she has a flash of inspiration. 

Using scraps of cloth from her work in the Big House and scraps of information gathered from other slaves, she fashions a map that the master would never even recognize. . . .

From the award-winning author-illustrator team of Deborah Hopkinson and James Ransome, this fictional tale of the Underground Railroad continues to inspire young readers 25 years after its original publication.

14. A Fine Dessert 


A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins 

The story tells the story of four centuries, four families, making the same dessert. This dessert connects human emotions, humans,s, and food. 

Although the environment has changed, the characters have changed, and the tools used to make desserts have changed over the four centuries, the most constant being the warmth of family and affection. 

I have to say that this book about slavery is a classic in terms of content and paint production. This unforgettable traditional food contains a profound cultural foundation and religious value. 

Therefore, when we enjoy traditional food, we not only taste the rich taste but also taste the long-standing cultural praise. 

Although the traditional cuisines of the East and the West are different, based on the cuisine, the emotions between people can be passed down from generation to generation.

15. Last Stop on Market Street 


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña 

When I read this book about slavery, I remembered a game I played in a training session before: "It's great", that is, in any case, you should say It's great in the first sentence, and give a reasonable explanation for it - play, It turns out that, most of the time, things are "forgivable".

"The Last Station on Market Street" probably also conveyed this truth. Grandma went from waiting for the bus to getting on the bus, to the last station, and they all gave the exploration of discovering beauty again and again.

for example:
CJ complains about why he has to wait for the bus when it is raining.
Grandma said that the tree is also thirsty, didn't you see it drinking from a straw...
complained why we don't have a private car.
Grandma says we already have a big bus that breathes fire...
When a blind man got into the car, asked: Grandma, why can't that man see?
Grandma said, "Baby, do you know what seeing is? Some people see the world with their ears."
After listening to the performance, the last stop on Market Street has also arrived. CJ asked his grandmother, "Why is this place always so dirty".
Grandma said, "CJ when you are in the dust, you can better understand what beauty is."
With such a grandmother around, the children brought out must be positive and optimistic toward the sun! when such children grow up, how can they be depressed or afraid of frustration? Because he must be able to find a way out of his positive thinking logic!

This book is a Caldecott Silver Award and Newbery Gold Award in 2016. It is excellent!

No matter where you live, the world is a desolate place, full of sadness. But you still have choices about how you look at the world—you can choose to look at the ugly side, or you can try to find the good side.

Such kind picture books will definitely give the child a good side, and these will become the light in his future life, illuminating the once gloomy time.

Conclusion: Best children's books about slavery

The basis of the production relations of slavery society is that slave owners possess the means of production, and at the same time directly possess the producers—slaves. 

This is an important feature that distinguishes it from other private ownership societies. Politically, slaves were stripped of all power. 

There is no personal freedom; economically, slaves are regarded by slave owners as a kind of property, and they are used as tools for speaking, and they are brutally exploited and exploited. 

Since the slave owner owns the means of production and slaves, all the products of the slave are owned and controlled by the slave owner. 

To enable the slave to work continuously for him and continue to exploit the slave, the slave owner only provides a small part of the means of subsistence to maintain the minimum life of the slave. 

The basis of the feudal social production relations is that the feudal landlord class owns the means of production such as land and does not fully own the productive laborers - serfs or peasants. 

Based on feudal ownership, two opposing classes were formed, namely, the feudal landlord class and the peasant class. 

Under the feudal system, not only did the feudal landlords exploit the farmers, but the state also exploited the farmers, handicraftsmen, and other laborers in the form of taxation and other financial firms.

Teaching About Slavery Using Children's Books 

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