The Underground Railroad Text Set


Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad (Fiction)
By: Ellen Levine
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson

Levine, E. Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad. Kadir Nelson. Scholastic Press, 2007.

Suggested Age of Intended Reader: 8-12 years old. This captivating story of a slave’s exciting escape to freedom captures the reader’s heart and attention with illustrations and emotions that portray true feelings.

Summary: Henry’s Freedom Box takes the reader on an exciting journey and depicts just how far slaves would go to be free. Meet Henry, a plantation slave since he was a young boy knowing no different, but dreams of a better life. As a man, Henry learns that his wife and children were sold to a slave market. Devastated, Henry decides that he will do whatever it takes to be a free man. Henry’s heroic journey is one that is unthinkable; he mails himself to freedom!

Blogging: Using a blog allows you the opportunity to share you thoughts about Henry’s Freedom Box. In addition, you not only can share your thoughts about Henry’s journey, but you can ask questions to other students about something that you are still left wondering. The reader’s response questions give you the chance to reflect on the reading, but also to learn from other students by reading their responses. Remember, we all interpret things differently! This can open up new doors to your own learning and begin great conversations with your peers!

Reader’s Response Questions:

1. Explain why you would or would not want to have Henry as a friend.

2. Henry made a decision to escape slavery. Is this something you would have done? What would you have done differently?

Concluding Remarks

Wow, what a great story, wasn’t it? It’s hard to believe that Henry’s Freedom Box was an actual true story! I’d like you to think about your reader’s response questions and construct your responses on the blog. Take your time and look back at the book if you need to so you can fully support your reader’s response.


The Underground Railroad (Non-fiction)
By: Ann Heinrichs

Heinrichs, A. The Underground Railroad. Capstone Point Books, 2001.

Suggested Age of Intended Reader: 9-12 years old. This non-fiction text is rich in vocabulary and includes with real-life photographs, maps, and flyers during The Underground Railroad time period.

Summary: Ann Heinrichs begins The Underground Railroad by explaining life as a slave on the plantations. She then goes on to tell the stories of real abolitionists and their fight to be free. Heinrichs also includes important dates and people for student’s to use as a point of reference.

Reader’s Response Questions:

1. Using examples from the text, explain why Harriet Tubman was such a well-known abolitionist.

2. We read about Henry “Box” Brown in this book. Explain some similarities and differences between the information given in this book vs. the fiction book Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad.

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad and The Underground Railroad share many similar qualities making them a perfect twin text set. By first reading the fiction book and the reader’s getting a sense of life as a slave prepares them for the vocabulary associated with this time period, as presented in the non-fiction text. Using these two text sets to enhance learning and understanding of The Underground Railroad supports learners on a personal connection level as well as an informational level.


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