Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold has been around a long time. It was first published in 1991 and won the Caldecott Award for its illustrations in 1992.
Born a slave, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in 1847. That would have been heroic enough for anyone. But Harriet Tubman did not forget the slaves left behind. She risked her life and freedom many times to go back and lead other slaves to freedom. A bounty of $10,000 to 40,000 was placed on her by slave traders.
A dynamic speaker, she became a hero in the abolitionist movement and later the woman's right movement. During the Civil War, she served as a nurse, spy and intelligence commander. All of this is incredible for a black woman, and former slave to have accomplished during the times in which she lived.
Harriet Tubman has proven to be a very popular person in children's books. Because she was illiterate, we do not have Harriet's own record of her life. Instead,we must rely on the accounts recorded by others. In fact, many of the quotes attributed to her, seem to have been taken from children's books of the 1950s and 1960s. (WomenWordsWisdom.com) This mean's that many biographical stories of her life are more in the realm of myth than fact.
Faith Ringgold's book stands out from the many biographies written for children.(See the listings below) First of all, it does not pretend to be a biography but instead embraces the mythic nature of Tubman's life - the Moses of her people. Full of whimsy and historical detail, Ringgold's book takes children on a trip through slavery and the search for freedom with Harriet Tubman as their guide. The artwork--still as vibrant as it was a quarter century ago--captures the horror of slavery and the importance of living free in a way children can understand.
If you want one book to introduce Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad to your children, family, or students, ignore the publishing date and start with this one.
My First Biography: Harriet Tubman 2010 by Marion Dane Bauer & Tammie Lyon primary grades
Who Was Harriet Tubman? 2002 by Yona Zeldis McDonough & Nancy Harrison primary grades
Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman 2000 by Monica Kulling & Teresa Flavin primary-intermediate grades
Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad 2007 by Ann Petry middle grades/high school
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