Tuesday, January 20

Home School Open House

Tammy at Lattes and Lollipops is having a Home School Open House and she's invited me to take part. Thank you, Tammy, for the invitation.

I don't home school any children for their official education, but I do love teaching children. There are many things that the Board of Education teaches the boys that is absolutely boring and many things that they are interested in that isn't taught.

The historic inauguration today of Barak Obama has brought up a host of different topics. They heard that Obama is traveling the same route as Abraham Lincoln did when he traveled to Washington from Illinois. They've also heard that Obama will be sworn in on the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used when he was inaugurated.

The boys thought this was rather fantastic. They expressed how great it would be to touch the Bible that Lincoln did. It has also brought up the subject of slavery and why anyone would want to own another human being. So, being the history buff that I am, we read the book, "The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad" by Barbara Greenwood.

We started reading this book way back in November and we still aren't done. We have a ways to go yet, but the boys are keenly interested in the story, the political ramifications and the plight of the slaves.

The story is about two families who meet in the summer of 1856. The Reids live in St. Catherines, Ontario. The Jacksons are slaves, trying to escape the bonds of slavery. Though the Reids and the Jacksons are fictional families, the story is filled with facts of what slaves endured on their flight to freedom to Canada.

From the back cover:

Late one night in June 1856, a "package" is delivered to the Reid family in St. Catherines, Ontario. The package is 11-year-old Eliza Jackson, on the run from a southern plantation. She is one of many escaped slaves who followed the network of hiding places and forest trails, traveling to free northern states and later across the border into Canada. For Eliza, the Reid's home is the last safe house at the end of the long road to freedom known as the Underground Railroad.

This book is a must for older children during the month of February, which is Black History Month. It will give them insight into the life of a young slave who had to undergo a treacherous route in order to gain her freedom. It also tells of the willingness of people such as the Reid's who put themselves in danger in order to help slaves get to the northern states and across the border to Canada.

An exciting moment is when Eliza and the Reid's daughter, Johanna, are alone in the house and a slave catcher comes to the door. Johanna now has to face the terror that Eliza has experienced all of her life. What will happen? Will Johanna thwart the slave catcher's attempt to capture Eliza, or will she be returned to a life of slavery?

Along with the story, this book tells how to make a cornhusk doll, how slaves learned to live in freedom and how they found work after they were free. The historical significance of this book is wondrous and the boys have learned so much about what life was like for those who lived within the bonds of slavery.

Barbara Greenwood is an award winning author and she weaves this fictional story together based on historical fact. I highly recommend this book to all parents who are teaching their children history through home schooling. It brings history to life in a moving portrayal of friendship, slavery, cruelty, kindness and courage. Not one to be missed. Illustrations are by Heather Collins. A beautiful book for any age.

Published by Kids Can Press

ISBN: 1-55074-509-3

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters online.


  1. This sounds like a great book. I love children's books. I have never got rid of any of my kids books, and I have many. My Grandson still likes me to read to him every once in awhile. He will chose his old favorites.

  2. A great posting,and a histroic day.

  3. another lovely post!

    ~AirmanMom returning to her blog...

  4. I lost my comment...I got "The request took too long"...so now I have to start over.

    I posted something like this:

    Mary this is one outstanding post. I love the fact that you read to 'your boys' and that they are interested in history. It's always great to know that one day they may be interested in a certain subject and do research on their own all from you beginning the teaching at one time. High 5!!

    Happy Tuesday.

  5. Have they been to Uncle Tom's cabin at Dresden? If not, perhaps this summer?

  6. Good morning dear Mary:-)

    Tried to visit yesterday but my internet was acting up and nothing would load...this morning it works perfectly again. Touch wood! lol

    It certainly is quite an historic day today...I love the fact that having an African American US President is happening in my lifetime, not something we ever expected to see.

    That book sounds so interesting and I'm so glad that the boys are into learning such history, too many children have no idea. xoxo

  7. Thanks for the tip about the book-I'm going to get the girls to see if it's available in their school library-and request it if it isn't!

    Loved the post about your Dad-very touching and bittersweet.

  8. Thanks for that information. I have to get that at the library. We read one of the American Girl books about slavery in which my daughter was totally interested and full of questions.

  9. wow what a great book! We're reading the story of Harriet Tubman, the kids love it so far and they couldnt' believe all the things that went on in it.

  10. Mary, thank you so much for participating and contributing! Even though you don't officially home school, you are still helping your grandchildren learn!
    And being also a history buff, I am always facinated with some of your historical posts...
    I defintely want to look into this book...we've touched on the topic of slavery and the underground railroad but I'd like to delve deeper with that, especially with my 9 yr old.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Mary!

  11. Thanks for sharing the book. I watched history being made today with my 3yr, 5y & 8 yr. They were home from school today due to snow. They did not understand what was so different about this President. I tried explaining it to them, they are still to young to understand. I will have to get this book.

  12. Great post mary. I have always been very interested in the underground railroad as we have a historic building here in town that was part of the route to Canada. There is a (closed) tunnel that goes from the house to the river that was used for escape. We now have a nice sculpture of an African American man there and the fact that it is part of the Underground
    railroad system on the plaque.

  13. Sounds like a great book! We love history so I'll have to look into that book.


  14. Sounds like a great book!! Kids need to learn and understand how people used to live...I am so glad that is not going on at least here in the USA!!
    Sorry that I have not been around lately..Just busy i guess..

  15. Mary,

    This sounds like a wonderful book. We have not read this one in particular although we have read about the Underground Railroad. We have a movie that would make a great follow up to it...it was purchased through Nest Videos....It's called Harriet Tubman. Thanks for sharing...we will try to find it.

    I too think it would be very cool to touch the Bible that Abraham Lincoln used.


  16. The very words "slave catcher" give me the shivers. What a great lesson to be taught. :o)