Novel for kids about slavery and the Underground Railroad takes place in Virginia

March 2019

A Book for Kids About Kids on the Underground Railroad

Judi Howe has released her new novel for middle grade readers, The Freedom Stone. A poignant, page-turning story of the triumph of family, friendship, and courage, the story transports young readers into the everyday lives, joys, and fears of enslaved people living on a Virginia tobacco plantation in the 1850s. Woven through with vital, meticulously researched history, The Freedom Stone provides multiple opportunities for readers to understand the complex history of slavery and the people who risked- and even lost- their lives to fight against it.

Asked what her motivation was for writing The Freedom Stone, Howe noted that, as an adult, she discovered that in my school years, some unpleasant US historical truths had been incomplete and prettied-up at best, or omitted entirely at worst. "I continue to be concerned that we do not paint complete pictures of the most painful periods of American history. Sadly, slavery is just one of these," she adds.

A visit to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in 2012 gave Howe an understanding of how Germany has worked to acknowledge and 'own' its own harrowing history of the Holocaust. "My mind was racing as the guide described how German students study the Holocaust from middle grades through secondary school. I wondered what we could be doing better here at home to acknowledge and 'own' the agonizing truth of slavery. As a child of parents who were both educators, I believe that the truthful and thorough education of children is an appropriate starting point. I came home and began my research to write an historical fiction story for kids."

Moses is a twelve-year-old boy. He knows what slavery means. Massa owns him. A shy, frightened boy, Moses knows that he and his family are nothing more than property - the same as a mule or a wagon. After the unexpected death of his Papa, a shocking surprise changes Moses' life forever. His fears turn into action as he leads Addie, his sister and their Mama on an exhausting and dangerous journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Told in the alternating voices of Moses and Addie, the novel encourages young readers to put themselves in the shoes of Moses and Addie, and in so doing, they will gain a deep down-in-the-gut understanding of what life was like for enslaved kids their own age. Howe notes that her "goal was to write a book that kids would enjoy reading, but also one that included very specific details about the period, such as living conditions, food, weddings, funerals, rules and laws, treatment of slaves, ways in which good people assisted runaways, music, etc."

Kathryn Hill, President & CEO, Levine Museum of the New South, notes that "delivering difficult and complicated content to children with both sensitivity and honesty is no easy feat; Judi Howe's The Freedom Stone does just that. I hope this book finds its way onto shelves in schools, libraries, and homes far and wide."

Howard N. Lee, Founder and President of the Howard N. Lee Institute for Equity and Opportunity in Education, adds, "If we don't understand and learn from history, we will not understand when history is being repeated. The Freedom Stone presents an accurate historical detail of what the experience was like, both on the plantation, and on the path to freedom.

The Freedom Stone is available at one's favorite bookstore, and online at, and In addition to the book itself, Howe has written a Teacher's Guide, available as a free download on her website,


For further information contact: Judi Howe 843-340-7645

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