NCSS Notable Trade Book Lesson Plan
Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad
Written by Henry Cole
Lynne Farrell Stover
James Madison University Center for Economic Education
Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad is a remarkable picture book that opens with a young farm girl discovering an unknown person hiding in her family’s barn. What should she do? It’s not legal or safe to assist a runaway slave in the South during the Civil War. Whatever she does, her action (or inaction) will have consequences that may affect the life of another person in a positive or negative manner. This lesson focuses on the costs and benefits of the choices made by the farm girl. Young readers will use the wonderful illustrations to follow the tale’s linear storyline. Older students will be fascinated by the combination of embedded visual clues and unstated communication that defines the Civil War and Underground Railroad. The author’s endnote reveals the inspiration for the book and invites readers to write their own story.