Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
by Ellen Levine
Honors: 2008 IRA Teachers' Choices selection.
illustrations by Kadir Nelson
2008 Caldecott Honor Book.
2010 ALA Notable Children's Book.
After Henry Brown's wife and children are sold at the slave market, Henry knows he'll never see them again. The only thing left to live for is freedom. With help from a white man named Dr. Smith, Henry mails himself from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, inside a wooden box. "Dr. Smith begged the clerks to be careful. But they didn't listen. They threw the box into the baggage car. Hours passed. Henry was lifted up and thrown again. Upside down!"
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Critique from Room 502:
The month of February is Black History Month at my school. When teaching writing to my 2nd grader I use the writer's workshop model.
All that means is I begin every lesson reading a part of a story, that model the writing craft I want my students to use that day. I was reading from the book Escape. In mentions the underground railroad.
To my surprise not one of my 2nd graders knew what it was.(For the record 12 of my 15 students are Afrian American) So I chose Henry's Freedom Box for my next "Read to me challenge picture book."
I chose this book because of its inspirational message of courage and determination. Just let me say, you could have heard a pin drop! The thought of Henry loosing his family and putting himself in a box
to mailed to freedom was just too much for them. They had so many questions! They wondered why would someone do such a crazy thing. This was the beginning of many books about the Underground Railroad, that I will read to my class. One little boy, ask me, Mrs.Velasquez were your family slaves? At first I thought that was a silly question, but then I realized litte Mottama was from Hatti and knew nothing of slavery in America. I told him no and he reached over hugged me and said, “I’m glad.” Reading historical fiction is so important!! The critics from room 502 gave it a thumbs up. I personally give it 2 thumbs up! I love historical fiction :)