Eleven year-old Elijah lives in Buxton, Canada in the 1850s. Buxton is a town made up entirely of runaway slaves that have escaped from America on the Underground Railroad. Elijah's parents are former slaves, but Elijah himself was born free in Buxton. He leads a school boy's life keeping up with his lessons and doing chores alongside Mr. Leroy, a community handy man who is working hard to save up enough money to buy his family's freedom. Elijah is well known in his town for being sensitive, quiet, and easily moved to tears.

A devastating turn of events brings Elijah face to face with the fear and horror experienced by his parents and the former slaves in his town. A sneaky preacher steals Mr. Leroy's money, as well as his dream of being reunited with his family. Elijah sets off after the thief in a desperate attempt to recover the money. The chase brings Elijah to America and the constant threat of being captured by slave bounty hunters. In one memorable scene Elijah stumbles across a group of slaves who have been re-captured. Shackled together in a barn the group is starving and thirsty. One of the slaves holds a baby out to him. Should he take the baby and run, or try to rescue the group? It is one of many heart wrenching scenes that shows the horrors of slavery.

Listed below are more books that tell harrowing stories like Elijah's that bring the realities of slavery to life. Some of the books are true stories and some of them are fiction. These books are hard to read, but by walking either in a real person's shoes, or in a character's shoes, you really can get a look at what their experience was like. To learn more about black history, try:

Websites, Activities & Printables:

US History in Context Logo

U.S. History in Context: Slavery is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your library card number. It will show you biographies, magazines, videos and more about slavery.

Novelist K-8 Logo

NoveList K-8: Stories about slaveryis a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your library card number. Novelist will show you fiction chapter books and picture books you can read set in the time of the 13 colonies. Click on “Check the Library Catalog” to see if IndyPL has the book.

Indiana Websites:

Focus on Indiana


Use your indyPL Library Card to check out books at any of our locations, or check out e-books and e-audiobooks from home right to your device. Click on a book jacket below to request a book or download it. Need help? Call or ask a Library staff member at any of our locations or text a librarian at 317 333-6877.

The Journey of Little CharlieFreedom Over MeLift Your Light a Little HigherForgotten BonesFrederick Douglass the Lion Who Wrote HistoryMosesWordsUndergroundNoMoreChainsJeffersonHenryMumbetHeartSoulLike a BirdAll Different Now

To learn even more about fascinating and inspiring black history makers, visit the Center for Black Literature & Culture at Central Library. The Center is dedicated to celebrating the vibrant and resilient heritage and triumphs of those born of African roots.

Center for Black Literature & Culture

~ IndyPL_CarrieW