Henry's Freedom Box

Book Summary: 

Henry is a young slave. At the beginning of the story, Henry's mother warns him that slave children are like leaves blowing in the wind, "torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families." Henry's master gives Henry to his son at his death. Henry had to leave his family and work in a factory for his new master. As time passes, Henry becomes an adult and meets a woman he'd like to marry. The two have to ask their masters' permission to do so. As Henry and his wife begin to raise a family, Henry learns that his wife and children have been sold. There is nothing Henry can do to stop this from happening. Henry is desolate at losing his family, and decides to leave his home. Henry gets the idea to mail himslef to a state that does not believe in slavery with help from a white doctor that doesn't believe in slavery. Henry is shipped in a big box and arrives safely in a place he can live his life as a free man. 

Ellen Levin
Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press
Guiding Question: 

This story shows how slavery can impact a family, including children. Do you think being sold away from your family was the worst thing that slaves suffered? At the beginning of the story we read, "Henry's master had been good to Henry and his family." Can that be a true statement? Why or why not? Would you have tried to escape slavery as Henry did? Why or why not? 

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85): 

Honesty- What does Henry's mother teach him about slavery children early on? Did you think this would happen to Henry in the story? Why or why not?

Empathy- Look carefully at the pictures of Henry throughout the story. They give clues to Henry's feelings. Describe how you think Henry feels at different parts of the story. Do the pictures match? Have you ever thougtht about all the things slaves lost? They once had lives in Africa with their own families, language, religion, songs, foods and more. They were violently taken from all of that. Once they started news lives in America, they were cruelly treated and had no rights. They often lost their new families, too. They couldn't marry without permission. 

Advocacy- Think about how your life would be different if you didn't know your family. Though not due to slavery, do you have classmates who don't live close to their families? Get to know them and ways you can help. If there isn't anyone in your class, are there people in your community that don't live close to their families. Find out if you can help. Another way to advocate is to find out how people whose ancestors are slaves can research their geneology. Click this link to find this type of information: Public Broadcast Company

Action- Host community events that can help people who aren't close to their families have people they can connect to.