To Be a Slave

by Julius Lester

To Be a Slave

This Newbery Honor Book personalizes the hardships and struggles of African-American slaves. The book contains a number of personal accounts from slaves and ex-slaves, who describe their experiences from the time they left Africa through the Civil War and into the early twentieth century.

To buy this book, click here or on the book cover.

Enrichment Activities
Internet Resources
Books by Julius Lester

Enrichment Activities

  • Comprehension Tests
    Check your students' comprehension of To Be a Slave with Comprehension Test A, Comprehension Test B, Comprehension Test C (answer keys included).

  • Projects
    Students can choose from six projects or complete the proposal form with their own project idea for To Be a Slave.

  • Crossword Puzzle
    After completing this crossword puzzle for To Be a Slave, students can explain the difference between an indentured servant and a slave.

  • An Abolitionist Play
    Students learn about five women abolitionists and are asked to write a one-act play that reflects the views of the women concerning the biracial makeup of the movement.

  • Emancipation Proclamation
    On January 1, 1863 President Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves. Read and analyze the entire speech with your students, as a whole class or a group activity.

  • Famous Abolitionists
    Share with your students reference articles on Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman.

  • Harriet Brent Jacobs
    Harriet Brent Jacobs (1813-1897) was a slave who wrote an autobiography. In this lesson, students read an excerpt from her autobiography and react to it.

  • Indentured Servants
    This lesson helps students to compare and contrast European American indentured servitude to African-American servitude.

  • New Bedford Virtual Field Trip
    Take your students on a virtual field trip through New Bedford, site of the Massachusetts Underground Railroad.

  • The Underground Railroad
    Students take a cyber-journey through the Underground Railroad – the path to freedom for slaves in the 1850s.

Internet Resources

American Slave Narratives
Grade Levels: Intermediate, Middle, Secondary
These firsthand accounts came from former slaves who were interviewed by Works Progress Administration (WPA) writers and journalists from 1936-1938.

Slave History
Grade Levels: Intermediate, Middle, Secondary
A comprehensive collection of resources on the slave trade, including slave accounts, the slave system, slave life, anti-slavery groups, and more.

Underground Railroad Virtual Journey
Grade Levels: Primary, Intermediate, Middle
Making choices of their own, students follow Harriet Tubman on one of her many freedom trips up the east coast.

Books by Julius Lester

Albidaro and the Mischievous Dream
And All Our Wounds Forgiven
Black Cowboy, Wild Horses
Black Folktales
The Blues Singers: Ten Who Rocked the World
Do Lord Remember Me
Falling Pieces of the Broken Sky
From Slave Ship to Freedom Road
Further Tales of Uncle Remus
How Many Spots Does a Leopard Have?
John Henry
The Knee-High Man and Other Tales
The Last Tales of Uncle Remus
Let's Talk About Race
Long Journey Home: Stories from Black History
Lovesong: Becoming a Jew
The Man Who Knew Too Much: A Moral Tale from the Baila of Zambia
The More Tales of Uncle Remus
Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt
Sam and the Tigers: A Retelling of Little Black Sambo
Shining C
The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit
This Strange New Feeling
To Be A Slave
Two Love Stories
Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales
What a Truly Cool World
When Dad Killed Mom
When the Beginning Began: Stories About God, the Creatures, and Us
Who I Am

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