Saturday, February 4, 2012

Read to me challenge: Henry's Freedom Box

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

by Ellen Levine
illustrations by Kadir Nelson
ISBN: 9780439777339

 Honors: 2008 IRA Teachers' Choices selection.  
               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!" 

 Check on this awesome book trailer by clicking on this link

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 :)


  1. I love visiting your blog and hearing how your kids react to the books you read them. Great review Cheryl. Thanks for sharing

  2. What a great post and I will be looking for this book!
    Thanks Cheryl,
    Kim Pfennigwerth

  3. Thank you Jennifer. You too, Kim. I am glad you enjoy my blog. If I get parent permission I may one day post a picture of the critics from room 502! I think you both would like to see who am talking about. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Happy reading and writing:)

  4. I love historical fiction too! I especially love to find a good book like for children. What an amazing story. I would love to get this one for my kids. There is so much they take for granted. Thanks for sharing this one today.

    1. I glad you enjoy the review. I sure your children will enjoy this book too!

  5. I love this book!! Thank you for sharing this amazing one for all who haven't discovered it yet, too.

  6. I just wanted to say that I like the overall look of your blog,'s warm and inviting...good job!

  7. You are certainly expanding the horizons of those kids, and I so appreciate learning their perspective on these books.

    Thank you!