HENRY'S FREEDOM BOX
Author: Ellen Levine
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Grade Level: Pre-K - Third
Henry never knew how old he was because slaves weren't allowed to know their birthdays. He was taken away from his family when he was young and was devastated. Once he got older he was torn from his wife and children as they were sold away. His devastation stuck a brilliant idea. So with the help of a few friends he found a clever way to gain his freedom by traveling through a box as "mail" to Philadelphia,PA. When he arrives to his destination he is given a birthday, the day he became free!
Element 4 Social Movements And Social Change:
This book is a great example of a social change action. Henry knew something wasn't right and found a way out to a better life with the help of friends. Despite Henry being a slave he still found a way to change his circumstances. Students can learn that when coming together even if it's a small group, you can create great ideas for social change and or movements.
After reading the book to the students, I would put students in groups and ask them to create their own box, (be creative) and then think of what they would change about the book that they thought was unfair example; how they didn't give slaves birthdays,how they couldn't sing a loud etc.. Then students will find a way they would change it and post their idea on their box. Then each group will present their idea and box in front of the class. Then ask students where would they send this box to, and why? End the discussion with reminding students that their ideas are important and they can also make change too, by coming together.
Another activity after reading would be to ask the students how Henry felt, when he became free and write a poem about what you think he said and felt once he reached his destination. On the day of the presentations (poetry slam) ask the class to dress up in character and use props if needed.