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In Key Stage 3 & 4 pupils learn more about Britain’s transatlantic slave trade: its effects and its eventual abolition. The books in this section can help towards further understanding of the impact of slavery.
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Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2022 | December 2021 Debut of the Month | This thrilling debut is infused with the history, language and mythology of West Africa. Set in the mid 1400’s when the Portuguese first began abducting and then buying West Africans, it pursues an interesting perspective on the terrible human cost of the Slave Trade. The author describes in a note how she came across many stories featuring Yemoja, a Yoruba deity with the tail of a fish. Stories of giving comfort to Africans on the ships, or wrecking slave vessels or escorting home the souls of those who died and were discarded in the sea. From this and her own fascination with the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the author has created an unforgettable story. Yemoja has created many Mami Wata, mermaids tasked with escorting the souls of enslaved people thrown into the sea. Simindele, a teenage girl, is one of them, but when she instead saves the life of a boy, she unwittingly puts all the Mami Wata in peril and must seek the forgiveness of the supreme deity. The boy she saves also has a dangerous mission to save his family and on their perilous journey they grow dangerously close. Just like The Little Mermaid, if Simi were to act upon her feelings she would dissolve into sea foam and just like Andersen’s creation Simi’s travels in human form on land cause her terrible pain. In the denouement there is also a hint of Persephone and Hades in her dealings with the oceanic equivalent of the Underworld. Throughout this action packed adventure the narrative is enriched with elements of West African language and we learn fascinating detail about their sophisticated societies, mathematical prowess, customs and religion. This is an innovative and refreshing mix of western and African myth wrapped up in a really rewarding read that should find many fans.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2021 | Shortlisted for the Iris Award | Longlisted for the YA Jhalak Prize | Longlisted for the YA Diverse Book Award | Shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022 | Written with luminous, crackling style, Cane Warriors is an unforgettable account of Jamaican and British history that must be known, with an unforgettable narrator at its heart. In the words of fourteen-year-old Moa, “the hope of our dreamland churned in my belly,” a powerful statement that pulses through this extraordinary story of Tacky’s War. Based on a revolutionary real-life 1760 Jamaican slave rebellion, a visceral sense of the atrocities Moa and his fellow field slaves are subjected to is evoked from the start. Their bodies are lashed and “roasted by a brutal sun”, Moa hasn’t seen his house-slave mama for three years, his papa lost an arm in mill machinery, and his friend Hamaya fears the day predatory white men will “come for me.” Spurred by the death of Miss Pam who “drop inna da field and lose her life”, and led by Miss Pam’s brother Tacky, who “trod like a king” and whose brain “work quick like Anancy”, the uprising hinges on the freedom fighters killing the plantation master. While Moa is glad to be given a pivotal role in the rebellion, he fears that success and escape will mean he’ll never see his parents or Hamaya again - his conflict is palpable, but he’s set on being a cane warrior. Outside the plantation, Moa’s world is immediately transformed, with his life as a freedom fighter evoked in fine detail (I loved the depiction of him tasting creamy, fleshy sweetsop for the first time). There are bloody battles ahead, executed in the presence of Akan gods, and driven by brotherhood and hope for that dreamland. Lucidly lyrical and raw, I cannot praise Cane Warriors enough.
November 2020 Book of the Month | Ayesha Harruna Attah’s The Deep Blue Between, her debut for younger readers, is a rich historical, dual-narrative story of the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood. With a steady, captivating style, it’s rich in details of everyday life in late-nineteenth-century West Africa and Brazil, and the broader cultural landscapes of the Gold Coast and South America. It’s a thoughtful - and thought-provoking - novel, threaded with love, hope and determination. “In 1892, when I was ten, I was forced to live on a land where the trees grew so close together, they sucked out my voice.” So Hassana sets the scene at the start of her story. Following a raid on her home, she’s been separated from her twin sister, Husseina, but senses they’ll find one another again. Even more so when she finds the protection of a stranger: “I was learning things from Richard that I was sure would make it easier to find Husseina. Richard had been in what he called “the Gold Coast” to study plants to find out what could be used to treat sicknesses. He was going to put everything he found in a book.” But the sisters’ paths take hugely divergent turns. While Hassana makes it to Accra, Husseina flees to Brazil, way across the deep blue ocean they both dream of. Fans of Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone will relish reading about West African religion and culture in this context, and it’s also highly recommended for readers who love Jamila Gavin’s elegant, character-driven historic fiction. It provides vital insights into the impacts of European imperialism, and the connections between Africans and Brazilians of African descent, through a distinctly moving human story.
From the excellent True Adventures series, in which different authors bring to life some exciting but little-known and diverse aspects of history. This is an area where Catherine Johnson absolutely excels and this story of how one woman masterminded a slave resistance against the British in eighteenth-century Jamaica is perfect for her and indeed was shortlisted for the inaugural Jhalak Prize for Children’s fiction. The story grabs the reader from the start with the thrilling chase through the mountains, as Nanny herds her people away from the pursuing British Army. She becomes a fierce and revered leader and freed slaves flock to her village for protection. Nanny terrifies the British with her reputation as an Obeah woman who could harness magic and spirits and catch bullets. Her fighting eventually leads to a peace treaty which would finally leave Nanny and her people to live in peace. This inspirational story also pulls no punches in terms of descriptions of the harsh treatment of slaves in the colonies – history which needs to be told. Each story in this accessible series is helpfully complemented by additional resources including a map at the beginning, further details about the subject of the story along with a glossary of terms, a timeline and more about the author.
This book examines the key questions behind slavery and the slave trade, with a wide-ranging survey from the ancient world to the practice of slavery today. It looks at the driving forces and vested interests behind the slave trade and assesses the legacy slavery has had on working practices around the world. For more books on this theme head over to our sister site, LoveReading4Schools topic list - The Slave Trade
Winner of the Little Rebels Children's Book Award 2019 | An action-packed and pacey story about a boy's experience of slavery in Britain. Nathaniel doesn't want to move to England with his master's family, leaving behind his mother and sister on the Jamaican plantation. But then he remembers what his mother told him: once a slave sets foot on English soil, they're free. Perhaps he can earn his fortune and buy his family's freedom, too. For more books on this theme head over to our sister site, LoveReading4Schools topic list - The Slave Trade
Part of the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the incredible life of Harriet Tubman, the Underground Railroad conductor who 'never lost a single passenger.' Little Harriet was born into slavery on a plantation in Maryland. Though life was hard, Harriet persisted. She used all of her strength and bravery to escape slavery and journey north on the Underground Railroad. Harriet made the dangerous mission back to the South many times, fighting her whole life to bring others with her to freedom. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back , including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the abolitionist's life. For more books on this theme head over to our sister site, LoveReading4Schools topic list - The Slave Trade
Longlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | A story of a daring escape made by two slaves, a young woman and her husband, provides the inspiration for Tanya Landman’s story. Rosa and Benjamin meet, fall in love and marry but because they are slaves, their lives are not their own. When Rosa discovers she is pregnant – and confesses to her husband that the child might be her master’s – they decide to run. Rosa is so fair skinned that even Benjamin mistook her for a white at first, so they decide to disguise themselves as a white master and his ‘boy’. Their escape is full of drama and tension, but what will shock young readers is the casual brutality and hateful self-justification of the white slave owners Rosa encounters. It’s a story that makes you doubt humanity, while also celebrating individual courage and resilience. For more books on this theme head over to our sister site, LoveReading4Schools topic list - The Slave Trade
Samuel's an educated boy. Been taught by a priest. He was never supposed to be a slave. He's a good boy too, thoughtful and kind. The type of boy who'd take the blame for something he didn't do, if it meant he could save his brother. So now they don't call him Samuel anymore. And the sound of guns is getting ever closer ... Jon Walter's second novel is a beautiful and moving story about the power of belief and the strength of the human spirit, set against the terrifying backdrop of the American Civil War.
This exciting adventure story follows a family of slaves in the USA in 1860 as they escape from a cotton plantation via the legendary Underground Railroad. An enthralling story of courage and resilience, centring on 10 year old Tommy, it will fascinate children who might not know much about this secret escape route into Canada that was used by as many as 100,000 people. For more books on this theme head over to our sister site, LoveReading4Schools topic list - The Slave Trade
Winner of the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal | What does freedom really mean? Tanya Landman pushes back against all kinds of prejudice in this action-packed, emotionally rich and vividly told story about one girl’s struggle to find out. When Charley is freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War between the Yankees and the Confederates she imagines a new world of unlimited opportunities. Instead, she finds a life that is more dangerous than ever before. Her only way to survive is to disguise herself as a boy and join the army. But the army, like everywhere else, is riddled with prejudice and danger. It is only when Charley is sent to fight against the Apache Indians, another much discriminated against group, that she begins to learn what is could mean to be free. For more books on this theme head over to our sister site, LoveReading4Schools topic list - The Slave Trade
Shortlisted for The Little Rebels Children's Book Award 2014 | Elizabeth Laird, one of the Little Rebels Book Award Judges said: “Harriet Tubman is an enthralling figure in the history of the American Civil Rights movement. This short, gripping biography will inspire young readers, both lovers of fiction and non-fiction alike. Harriet Tubman’s idealism, courage and self-sacrifice make her an ideal role model in an era where empty celebrity is an aspiration for so many children”
Sharon Dogar, April 2011 Guest Editor: "I read this as we drove across the US in 1991. As the American landscape unfolded in front of me, a particular part of its history, that of slavery, unfolded within the narrative of this novel. I love the mysteriousness of the girl with the ‘tree’ on her back, I love the inventiveness of the plotting, the sheer poetry of the language, and the heartbreaking beauty of its telling. This book is a work of genius, and has that rare quality of a timeless telling." For more books on this theme head over to our sister site, LoveReading4Schools topic list - The Slave Trade