Staff Reads: Freedom Over Me

Staff Reads: Freedom Over Me

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan 

Reviewed by Miss Julie, Youth Services Librarian

A poignant and powerful piece of fiction, this beautifully illustrated book brings to life the Fairchilds Appraisement of Estate from July 5, 1828.  This historical document contained only the names and prices of the slaves being sold, but Ashley Bryan gave those names a portrait, a life, secrets from the estate owners, and dreams.  

Shelved in the Juvenile Oversized Fiction section of the Youth Services department, this book is written in verse and reads like a picture book.  It can probably be read in under an hour and has stunning illustrations, but this picture book has a strong purpose.  This book shares the cruelty of the slave trade in a delicate fashion to provide an honest look at the history of slavery for upper elementary readers.  The author does not shy away from the brutal abuse that the slaves went through when they were taken from Africa. He also shows the desire the slaves had for freedom and touches on the dangers that would come with finding the freedom they wanted.   Most of all, this book highlights the humanity of slaves and how they were exploited for the profit of their owners.

As we head into Black History month, this book can provide stimulating conversations whether read in a classroom or at home. You can find this Newbery Honor book at the library in print here