Tuesday, December 29, 2020

What a Woman! What a Life! Harriet Tubman by Doraine Bennett

Making American history real and vibrant for primary graders is not an easy task. First graders don't have many years in their personal rearview mirrors, and even grandparents' lives seem like ancient history. But citizenship begins in childhood with early childhood education when stories of heroic deeds can vividly engage young minds. One historic hero who is fairly recent in the historic record is Harriet Tubman, a woman whose dedication and courage outshines many another better-known hero.

Harriet was born in Maryland sometime before 1822 and sent off to work for a neighboring farmer at the age of five. She was beaten by her temporary master and carried a scar on her forehead from a blow from her owner, but fortunately managed returned to the farm where her own families were still slaves. Harriet grew up doing all kinds of work--field work, laundry, cleaning, and cooking, and when she became an adult, she heard stories if a place called Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, a place where slaves could be free to work for their own wages, go to church, and become educated, and Harriet decided that she was going to find a way to that place someday.

And when she did, she determined that she was going to help others escape. Fearlessly, she went back by night to bring her own parents to freedom, taking a horse and wagon from her master's barn and barely escaping ahead of the bullets of her pursuing master across the Pennsylvania line. Known as "the Moses of Her People, Harriet made 19 trips back into slave country and rescued up to 300 people, proudly telling Frederick Douglass that she "never lost a single passenger" on her personal Underground Railroad. Vigorously sought by Southern slavecatchers, Harriet even made her way to Canada until it was safe to return to Philadelphia.

When the Civil War broke out, Harriet volunteered to nurse the wounded in Union hospitals and soon became as a famed spy behind Confederate lines, sometimes going into Rebel army camps disguised as a laundress to gain secrets of troop movement. She was so daring that she actually gained information that enabled her to lead a company of Union soldiers up a river in South Carolina to destroy a Rebel arsenal and ferry. In her long life, Harriet never ceased her efforts for equality and even became a prominent leader in the Women's Suffrage Movement until her death in 1913.

What a life! What a WOMAN!

Doraine Bennett's short but fact- and illustration-filled book, Harriet Tubman (American Heroes) (State Standards Publishing, 2019) offers primary graders the basic facts of the life of this amazing historic hero. A strong mind in her barely five-feet tall body, Tubman is now recognized as a truly amazing African-American hero, an American heroine worthy of the fame that has come to her only recently. More books for primary readers include Carole Boston Weatherford's Caldecott-winning Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Caldecott Honor Book) and David Adler's easy reader, A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman (Picture Book Biography).

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home