It always amuses me when our lessons overlap. What can turn into a history lesson, often starts out as a geography lesson. Basically, I’m looking for a book happening in a particular state and I end up finding a book happening in that state, that gives you an idea of what that state is like but also happens in a particular time in history. I’ve slowly built up an Underground Railroad book list by accident this way, so after years of saying, “I should make an Underground Railroad booklist,” I’m finally doing just that.
I know there are probably dozens more Underground Railroad books, so if you’ve got one you’ve read and suggest adding it in the comment section, so I can learn about more books.
Oh, and one final thought, I’m primarily sticking with picture books and easy nonfiction because you can use these with the widest range of ages. I’ll probably add a couple of chapter books that I particularly love and a few junior nonfiction books.
(there are so many affiliate links in here)
Underground Railroad Picture books
- Henry’s Freedom Box– Henry longs to be free, but how will he get from Virginia up North?
- Under the quilt of night– This is a great story of a young girl guiding her family North, the only problem is there is some question about the historicity of quilts as part of the Underground Railroad…
- Almost to Freedom!-This follows the story of a family escaping North as told from the point of view of a doll. It won the Coretta Scott King Award
- A Good Night for Freedom– When slave catchers come to her house, Hallie has to decide if she’ll give away the young girls hiding, or tell about them, a different look at the dangers of the Underground Railroad
- Moses: when Harriet Tubman led her people to freedom– while this isn’t a nonfiction book, this is my favorite Harriet Tubman book on the list. It looks like this book is both a Caldecott AND a Coretta Scott King winner
- Ain’t nobody a stranger to me– A young girl listens to her grandfather tell the story of escaping with the Underground Railroad
- Follow the Drinking Gourd– I feel like I saw this on Reading Rainbow as a kid, which is highly unlikely since it came out in 1992. Either way, a good book about how they followed the stars to make sure they went the right way
- The Patchwork Path: a quilt map to freedom-A lot of the myth of “freedom quilts” came from oral history, a family member telling a family member and each person adding their own details. When I looked it up, Amazon also suggested; The Secret to Freedom
- Night Boat to Freedom– The book that inspired this list, and I love the illustrations in it, also it’s just an all-around great book to read with your elementary kiddo
- Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt– This really was a Reading Rainbow book, so I know I read this one, and it’s great
- Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky– I don’t know this book as much, apparently it’s part of a series, where Cassie keeps dreaming she’s part of big events
- Alec’s Primer– a young enslaved person’s journey to freedom starts with learning to read, and he later becomes a landowner in Vermont
Underground Railroad Nonfiction books
- Harriet Tubman: hero of the Underground Railroad– this is a decent overview of who Harriet Tubman is, nothing particularly spectacular about it
- Minty: a story of young Harriet Tubman– it’s her backstory! Or a somewhat speculative tale of Harriet Tubman’s youth
- Escape North!: the story of Harriet Tubman– another addition to the list of books on her, this one is an easy reader, so a 2nd grader could read it
- An apple for Harriet Tubman– another book about young Harriet Tubman, recounting a single event from her childhood (might be traumatic for more sensitive kids)
- Harriet and the Promised Land– I have to admit I don’t much like the artwork for this book
- The Underground Railroad for kids: from slavery to freedom with 21 activities– this is technically junior nonfiction, but this series can easily be used with multiple ages, and I always grab it when I find one of these books, they have so many great ideas
- Slavery and the Underground Railroad: bound for freedom– a great overall resource of Underground Railroad facts
Quick Break to share some history lessons from the time period
I’ve got a lot of history lessons and booklist on here, and to take a quick break from all of these Underground Railroad books, let’s see some other ideas.
- Underground Railroad lesson
- What is your freedom color?
- Civil War Unit
- Lewis and Clark lesson
- Spies in the American Revolution lesson
Upper Elementary Nonfiction books
I didn’t tend to grab a lot of these, but every now and then I saw an Underground Railroad book that really appealed to me
- Fleeing to Freedom on the Underground Railroad: the courageous slaves, agents, and conductors– this is just a little bit of everything, and I’m always a sucker for anything that includes letters. I don’t know quite why, I just am
- North Star to Freedom: the story of the Underground Railroad– Another collection of multiple stories, apparently I’m a sucker for short stories
A couple of chapter books I like
Some of these I’ve read, and some of these are highly recommended by friends.
- Addy Be Forever American Girl– This is the newly released and “updated” version of her series. If you can find the original 6-book series, this was highly recommended to me, but I didn’t learn they were updating it until after I missed the opportunity to buy the original. It’s heartbreaking and encouraging to read.
- A Picture of Freedom– I’m linking to the original edition of this because I like the cover better, primarily because that’s the book I own, and so it’s the one I’m used to seeing. I LOVE this series, and if you find any book in the Dear America series, I’ve loved all of the ones I’ve read. Sadly the companion series, My Name is America, does not have a book on this topic.
- My America: Freedom’s Wings– This is the same series for slightly younger kids, 3rd grade, and I didn’t know until I was looking up this specific book, but each book in the series has multiple parts: Flying Free and Message in the Sky
- “‘Who killz and rapez for greed?’, FREE SLAVES, UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, OVERSEERZ, You Kill Your Kid, Lake City Way protest house, Highway 5 exit, Seattle, Washington, USA” by Wonderlane is marked with CC BY 2.0.
- “The Underground Railroad Sculpture” by battlecreekcvb is marked with CC BY 2.0.
- “Underground RailRoad Sculpture – Battle Creek” by battlecreekcvb is marked with CC BY 2.0.
- “Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad” by FotoGuy 49057 is marked with CC BY 2.0.