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
Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters online.