Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

EconKids Home Older Children and Young Adults: 2010 Harriet Tubman / by Kem Knapp Sawyer

Harriet Tubman / by Kem Knapp Sawyer


 Harriet Tubman 
Author: Kem Knapp Sawyer
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-7566-5806-9
Year: 2010

Concepts: slavery, racial equality, discrimination, social justice, human resources, jobs

  Born as Araminta Ross around 1822, Harriet Tubman endured the horrors of slavery while growing up in Maryland. Not only did brutal whippings and beatings from several slave-owners leave her with permanent scars, she also suffered a serious head wound at the hands of an angry overseer that would cause her to have headaches, vivid dreams, and episodes of narcolepsy for the rest of her life.  Motivated by frustration, fear, and spiritual visions, Harriet escaped from slavery when she was in her mid-twenties and found refuge in Philadelphia.

It did not take long for Harriet to return to Maryland to rescue members of her family, a trip that marked the beginning of a series of missions to guide other slaves along the Underground Railroad en route to freedom. Known as “Moses” to all those she encountered, Harriet did not lose a single person entrusted to her care. Over the course of her long life, she also worked tirelessly as an abolitionist, a Union spy and nurse during the Civil War, an advocate for women’s rights, and the benefactor of a home for the elderly.

This carefully-researched book constitutes a valuable resource for young people seeking to learn more about Harriet Tubman’s personal background and her lifelong quest for social justice. In a dense literature of biographical accounts, this particular contribution stands out for its rich presentation of photographs, images, and sidebar notes, all combined with clear lessons about the injustice of slavery and racial discrimination.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 

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