To Be A Slave by Julius Lester

Published: 1968

Genre: YA nonfiction history

Length: 156 pages

Setting: U.S. during and after slavery

Interest: For her last American History Club project, Miss Adventure wanted to talk about the work slaves did in the South. I tried to convince her to pick something else, but she was adamant. Trying to find something that was age appropriate was tricky, but this book looked promising.

Summary: The book combines actual slave accounts with commentary. The slave accounts came from archived interviews with ex-slaves, and they were interspersed with the author’s words that would set up or provide more details about the events described by the ex-slave. The book covered such topics as how blacks became slaves from Africa, life as a slave, the work it went into picking cotton, and emancipation.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed the structure of the book – the combination of actual words with interstitial information. It wasn’t too graphic, but you did get a taste of the horror of living as a slave. The information comes in small doses, so it works well for the younger audience. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone, especially in the younger set, who wanted to know more about what life as a slave was like.

Reading challenges fulfilled: None, since I didn’t finish the book. I only read enough to make sure it would be appropriate and useful for Miss Curiosity to read.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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