Underground Railroad

Books to Share

  • Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold.
  • The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton.
  • Secret to Freedom by Marcia Vaughan.
  • Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson.
  • Under the Quilt of Night by Deborah Hopkinson.

Books to Show and Booktalk

  • Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad by F. W. Monjo.
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter.
  • Hidden In Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline l. Tobin.
  • If You Traveled On the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine.
  • Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman by Alan Schroeder.

Bulletin Board

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Recreate the Big Dipper constellation on a black background using large stars. List titles of books or names of conductors of the Underground Railroad on each star.


Underground Railroad/Secret Code Quilt

Create a large quilt using the patterns found in Secret to Freedom by Marcia Vaughan.


"Follow the Drinking Gourd" on pages 32-33 of Gonna Sing My Head Off! by Kathleen Krull.


Play the audiotape of Follow the Drinking Gourd while showing the book by Jeanette Winter. Discuss the origin and meaning of the song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd". Information is on the web sites listed at the end of this chapter.


Tell an African-American story from The Tales of Uncle Remus by Julius Lester or Jump on Over!: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit by Joel Chandler Harris.


Underground Railroad/Secret Code Quilt


  • Wallpaper books
  • Cardboard
  • 12" X 18" Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pencils


Ask a wallpaper or department store to donate outdated wallpaper books to the library. On cardboard, pre-cut quilt patterns such as a wagon wheel, a log cabin, and a shoofly, or use the patterns found on the book jacket of Secret to Freedom. Children will trace and cut shapes from wallpaper using the patterns to create their an underground railroad/secret code quilt. The children may glue the shapes to construction paper to make an individual quilt or to a large piece of butcher paper to create a large quilt to display in the library.

Drinking Gourd Constellation


  • Dark blue construction paper
  • Self adhesive silver stars
  • Black marker


Create the Big Dipper constellation using star stickers on dark blue paper. Draw lines between the stars to create the "gourd".

Games and Activities

Escape to Freedom Derby


Interactive Internet game about the Underground Railroad.

Follow the Drinking Gourd


Multimedia presentation of "Follow the Drinking Gourd".

Guest Speaker

Invite a storyteller to tell about the Underground Railroad and its heroes and heroines.

Audio Recordings

  • Follow the Drinking Gourd by Rabbit Ears.
  • "Get On Board" on Choo Choo Boogaloo by Buckwheat Zydeco.
  • Steal Away: Music of the Underground Railroad by Kim and Reggie Harris.


Harriet and the Promised Land. (8 minutes)

Web Sites

Lyrics and History of "Follow the Drinking Gourd"

Explanation of Lyrics of "Follow the Drinking Gourd"

National Geographic's "The Underground Railroad"

Professional Resources

  • Gonna Sing My Head Off! by Kathleen Krull.
  • Quilting Activities Across the Curriculum (Grades 1-3) by Wendy Buchberg.
  • JUMP On Over!: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit and His Family by Joel Chandler Harris.
  • The Tales of Uncle Remus by Julius Lester.


Texas Reading Club 2003 Programming Manual / Mission Possible Spy Book!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011