Introduce the children’s book Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport. The introduction in the front of the book sets the stage for the story. After reading the introduction, ask the students the following questions:
Why do you think slaves risked their lives to run away?
Why do you think others risked their lives to help slaves run away?
If you were a slave, what would freedom mean to you?
Read aloud Freedom River. Discuss the following questions:
What qualities did John Parker possess that allowed him to continue to help slaves escape to freedom?
Why did John Parker feel the need to help others?
What obstacles did John Parker face in this story?
Using four pieces of chart paper and four different colored markers, write one of the following four themes at the top of each piece of chart paper:
Desire for Freedom
As a class, list specific events from the story that demonstrate these themes. It is possible that one event may be listed under more than one category. Allow time for discussion.
Students will now respond to the following writing prompt:
John Parker was an amazing individual who played an important role on the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad Freedom Center has proposed that escaping slaves were driven by four basic themes:
Desire for Freedom
Explain which of these characteristics you feel was most important to the Freedom River story. Be sure to demonstrate your opinion based on specific examples from the story.
Before allowing students to respond to the writing prompt, use the writing rubric to review the expectations for the writing assignment.
After students have completed the assignment, allow them to share their work.
Choice of Important Theme
1 important theme is chosen with insightful comments on how it was chosen.
1 important theme is chosen.
No theme is chosen or it is unable to determine theme.