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August 10, 2016

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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

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The True Story Behind 12 YEARS A SLAVE

Last night, 12 Years a Slave took home the Academy Award for Best Picture. The movie, directed by Steve McQueen, tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold to a Louisiana slave owner. The movie is based on Northup’s autobiography of the same name.

Engraving of Solomon Northup from his autobiography (image via Wikipedia

For teachers looking for a way to delve into this sensitive subject with their students, Northup’s story has also been adapted into a book for younger readers. Stolen Into Slavery, by Judith and Dennis Fradin, tells the extraordinary story of Northup’s life and explores how a free man could have his rights, and his life, stripped away from him. It details the horrors he endured during a dozen years of servitude, and how he finally managed to escape and return to his family with the help of a sympathetic abolitionist named Samuel Bass. The gripping narrative is enhanced with illustrations, maps, and even a few photographic images to deepen understanding of the times.

Northup’s story is remarkable, not only because it clearly illustrates the unjust, unfair treatment so many Africans and Americans received through being forced into a life of slavery, but also because it presents a compelling, engaging example of primary source material, based on a slave’s own account of his hardships and daily trials. An author note included in Stolen Into Slavery addresses how this adaptation geared toward young readers takes dialogue and details from Northrup’s original writing.

Stolen Into Slavery provides a great springboard for historical studies, including a timeline of slavery in the U.S. before and during Northrup’s life, a bibliography, and a list of online sources. The book could also be used to inspire classroom exercises in correspondence or persuasive writing, based on the letter-writing campaign Samuel Bass undertook to reach out for help in freeing Northup.

To discover how Solomon Northup survived this terrifying experience, and to learn more about this dark chapter in our nation’s history, read Stolen Into Slavery, available now from Scholastic Reading Club.

Visit the National Archives online for original documents and teaching activities related to Solomon Northup’s life.

 

About the Authors: 

Sean is a managing copywriter for the Scholastic Reading Club print catalogs. An all-around entertainment junkie, Sean also DJs in his spare time.

Mia is the editor of the Teens and BookBeat Scholastic Reading Club catalogs. She has also worked as a young adult librarian and dreams of someday joyriding around the country in her own bookmobile.

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March 3, 2014