Children’s Literature and Guided Questions



Picture Book for K-3

Blue Sky White Stars by Savinder Naberhaus, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017)


A picture book with multiple views of what America is and can be.


Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Sholastic Press, 2007)



1.       What does freedom mean?  What does it mean to be free? 

2.       How has freedom changed for some people? How did it change for Henry?

3.       What do the pictures in Blue Sky White Stars make you think about?  Does it look like where you live? How is where you live different from the pictures?

4.       Why is the story called Henry’s Freedom Box?   Why is it important to know this story?

5.       Kadir Nelson created the pictures for both books.  If you were asked to draw a picture of freedom, what would you draw?

For Grades 4-7

Dreams of Freedom—Amnesty International  (Frances Lincoln’s Children’s Books 2015)


Famous quotes with accompanying pictures about freedom.


1.       What is your favorite quote and picture from the book about freedom?  Why did you like this?

2.       Why do you think the word freedom can have so many different meanings and options?

3.       At one ¾ of all people in the world were slaves.   Some people are still slaves.  Why do you think slavery has and does exist?  

4.       Does freedom mean that you can do anything you want?  Can you be free to hurt someone else?   How does living with other people near you and with you change the the meaning for freedom?

5.       Amnesty International works toward the goal that all people could be free.  At one time a Unitarian Universalist was the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.  How could you, our congregation, and all the people of our faith work for freedom of all people? 

Other worthy books:


Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by James Ransome, (Alfred A Knopf, 1993)   How quilts were used as code to help Slaves gain freedom from slavery.

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins by Carole Boston Weatherford illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue (Puffin Books, 2007)  The story of African-Americans efforts to sit freely at lunch counters in the segregated South in the 1960s.

Follow the Drinking Gourd—Jeanette Winter  (Dragonfly Books, 1992)  How the North Star guided slaves to Freedom.  Also a song in the UU Grey hymnal.

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky— by Faith Ringgold  (Dragonfly Books, 1997) Grade 2-up  Accomplished artist and write Faith Ringgold tells how Harriet Tubman led many slaves to freedom.

Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement by Ann Bausum (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2005)  Grades 5-7   The story of those who worked for the freedoms of African-Americans in the 1960s South.

Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—Russell Freedman  (Holiday House, 2009)  Grades 5-8  How protests changed people’s ability to sit anywhere as opposed to segregated sections of transportation and general life.

Black Radishes—Susan Lynn Meyer  (Yearling 2011)   Grades 4-8  A French Jewish boy seeks to live in freedom during the Nazi occupation of France.

Beautiful Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Jill Pinkwater (Feiwel and Friends, 2010)  A chicken escapes to freedom from a butcher shop.

Exodus by Brian Wildsmith (Eerdmans Books For Young Readers, 1998)  K-3 ­A Christian retelling of the Exodus story

The Legend of Freedom Hill—by Linda Jacobs Altman illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu (Lee and Low Books, 2003)   K-4 Two girls, one African-American, one Jewish American team up to gain freedom for the African-American girl’s mother.

The Longest Night: A Passover Story by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Catia Chien (Schwartz and Wade, 2013)   The Exodus story told from a Jewish perspective.

Revolution—Deborah Wiles (Scholastic 2017)  Grades 4-8 Terrific novel for advanced readers about how the  efforts for greater freedoms in the 1960s Mississippi told from the perspective of the younger African-Americans who watched these efforts.

A Dream of Freedom by Diane McWhorter (Scholastic 2004) Grades 3-7  Comprehensive overview of the fight from civil rights freedoms in the 1950s and 1960s.

Navajo Long Walk by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Shonto Begay (National Geographic Books, 2002)  Grades 2-5 The Story of “Indian Removal” as told from a Native American/First Nation perspective.

Coolies—Christ Sontpient  (Puffin Books, 2003) Grades 1-5  The story of Chinese immigrants and their forced labor on the Transcontinental Railroad

The Trail of Tears—Joseph Bruchac (Random House Books for Young Readers, 1999)  Grades 2-4  Cherokees forced to walk the Trail of Tears in the 1830s told by a Native American author.

Voices of Freedom Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement  by Carole Boston Weatherford illustrated by Ekua Holmes  (Candlewick Press, 2015)  4-7  Civil rights leader who worked for freedoms for African-American woman tirelessly.

The Book of Freedom: Supporting the Freedom and Intelligence for a New Generation—Osho (St. Martin’s Griffin Books, 2013)   a resource for adults who work with children

We Are All Born Free: Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures  by Amnesty International (MAY 2016)  Grades 1-4  Another Amnesty International book on freedom and rights for children

Shi-Shi-Etko by Nicola Campbell illustrated by Kim LaFave (Groundwood Books, 2005)  Grades 1-6  Canadian First Nations’ children forced to go to boarding school to learn Canadian ways

To Be A Slave—Julius Lester  illustrated by Tom Feelings, (Puffin Books, 2000) Grades 5-9   Award winning book on what it meant to be a slave

Tuvia Finds His Freedom: A Nature Story for Children Illustrated with Photographs—Shoshanah Shear and Eliyahu Shear   (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2015) Grades K-4  A rabbi and his spouse teach about being kind and fair to animals

The 4th of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Marie Nonnast (Aladdin Books, 1995)  K-3   How America became a free country

Soft Rain:  A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornelissen (Yearling, 1999)   Grades 3-7  A novel for older readers on the Trail of Tears from a Native American perspective

Those Rebels John and Tom by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic Press, 2012) Grades 2-5  How two very different leaders worked together for America’s Freedom