Abstract 12, Volume 9, Number 1, Spring 2014

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.

Download as PDF