Book It!

I was just thinking last night, as I tucked no one into bed, (Kenna lives in North Carolina, Mitch was at a friend’s and Spence had a football-watching overnight at his Papa’s house since there is no school for him today) how I miss reading books out loud to my kids.

Books at bedtime used to be a big production around here. We didn’t just read. Often we acted out entire plots!

With today being Martin Luther King Jr day and since Black history month is soon to roll in, let me share two favorites I used with my children when they were small to teach them about African-American heroes and history.

Check for them at your local library or order them online if you want to own them.

Here they are, along with their descriptions:

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson

As a seamstress in the Big House, Clara dreams of a reunion with her Momma, who lives on another plantation–and even of running away to freedom.

Then she overhears two slaves talking about the Underground Railroad.

In a flash of inspiration, Clara sees how she can use the cloth in her scrap bag to make a map of the land–a freedom quilt–that no master will ever suspect.

For ages 5-10.

Click here to buy on


Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter

Winter’s story begins with a peg-leg sailor who aids slaves on their escape on the Underground Railroad. While working for plantation owners, Peg Leg Joe teaches the slaves a song about the drinking gourd (the Big Dipper).

A couple, their son, and two others make their escape by following the song’s directions.

Rich paintings interpret the strong story in a clean, primitive style enhanced by bold colors.

The rhythmic compositions have an energetic presence that’s compelling. A fine rendering of history in picture-book format.

For pre-school to grade two. Click here to buy on

Older kids might like any of the dozens of books out about the life of Harriet Tubman, a conductor on the underground railroad.

Happy reading!

photo credit


  1. karen,

    I know you’re just finishing a book right now, but I wanted to put a bug in your ear about another book idea! I would buy anything you wrote on homeschooling! As my little guys approach school age, I’m looking for books that highlight good resources (like the book ideas you give) and some fun approaches to school subjects (like teaching reading, etc.) along with lots of anectdotal stories to flush out what a homeschool day can look like!

    I’ve loved your books and so appreciated that God has allowed me to be mentored through your wisdom and exoerience! Thank you for taking the time and effort to write.


  2. I have a story that I was read as a child and read it to my children, neice and nephews before I had grandchildren. I have read and reread it so many times I can tell it from memory. The grandkids love to hear it or of course the when I was a baby or mom’s or when they were babies. No matter what the book or story, those times are precious and so quickly gone.

  3. Thank you for the reminder. I read a great story about Harriet Tubman when I was a kid – probably not even in print any longer since I would have read it in the early to mid-60’s. I was fasinated with the idea of the underground railroad. Sometimes kids stories are the best. Both of your suggestions sound good. I still have fond memories of biographies of Juliette Low and of Clara Barton. And Caddie Woodlawn was a favorite fiction.

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