Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

Recommended Grades: 3-5

A young girl’s courage is tested in this hauntingly beautiful, wordless picture book.  Beginning with the parallel between the title (of a wordless book) and the characters (who never speak), Cole has created a gorgeous rendering of the unspoken heroes of the Civil War   

Lesson Idea:  


Mentor Text, Civil War/Character Actions/Wordless Picture Books: Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad can be used as a mentor text for a number of techniques.  As a wordless picture book, discuss how the author conveys the story in pictures only.  How would the story change if words were added?  Analyze the relationship between the characters.  What can you learn about their relationship through pictures only? Most books we read about the Civil War speaks to the hardships of war.  This book speaks to the bravery of every-day people.  Use Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad as part of a unit on the Civil War to see both sides of the issue.  This would also pair well with Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine or Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown by Sally M. Walker in a unit on bravery during the Civil War.

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