Words Set Me Free

Words are powerful, but the gift of reading can be taken for granted in a country with a high literacy rate.

It wasn’t always that way. Children who grew up in the South, as slaves, did not have the opportunity to learn to read. In Words Set Me Free by Lesa Cline-Ransome, the author tells the story of Frederick Douglass, who grew up as a slave.

She tells the story from Douglass’s perspective: how he never really knew his mother, how he was treated like an animal, and sent to live with his owner’s sister and brother-in-law in Baltimore – leaving his grandmother at the plantation.

Douglass’s story is powerful – especially as he tells of his intense desire to learn to read. His master’s wife started teaching him, until his master got angry. Then Douglass taught himself on the streets of Baltimore, until he was able to run away to the North and become free. Words did set him free.

James E. Ransome’s bright and colorful illustrations in this picture book will delight younger children. And the Author’s Note at the end will give older children the rest of the story.

Recommended for ages 4 and up.

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