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Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome (Harriet Tubman)

by | Mar 26, 2022 | Biographies | 0 comments

The Many Roles Of Harriet Tubman

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome was a favorite book for my kids from the library because it’s a Wonderbook, which has a “read to you” option. This book not only included the story, but background assistance telling the story, including a portion where enslaved people were singing spirituals in the background while they worked. My son told me that that part was his favorite because he thought the song was beautiful.  This one, like the book about the friendship of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, is one that I hear being played after I turn the lights out in their room. 

Beginning at the end, this book looks back at the many roles and names Harriet Tubman assumed throughout her life, and my goodness they are extensive and all just Strength and Bravery incarnate. 


One Person Can Have Many Roles

I knew of Harriet Tubman as the brave woman who not only escaped enslavement, but led the way in the Underground Railroad. What I learned about Harriet Tubman was that she also served as a nurse, a spy for the Union army, and a suffragist. It would have been heroic for her to do one of those things. It was incredible that she was all of those things. 

One Person Can Make A Huge Difference

Going along with the many roles, her participation in each of those roles were vital to the success of each endeavor. This one human changed the course of history with her determination and grit. 


Because my oldest was so taken with the spiritual sung by enslaved people, one of our first conversations about this book was about spirituals and how the enslaved people would sing while they worked to try to make the time go faster and bond together. Then we had a miniature history of music class where we talked about how spirituals morphed into the blues, and then jazz. They loved the Pixar movie Soul, so I was able to draw on the main character talking about feeling the music inside when they played it. It was a bit of a rabbit trail, but it was a good one. 

Our other conversation had to do with the theme that one person can make a big difference. We talked about how many things Harriet did throughout her life, how she dedicated herself to the pursuit of equality of all people. We also talked about how she put herself at risk for the benefit of the cause. It was not safe leading the Underground Railroad. It was not safe being a Union spy. And yet, Harriet did them both anyway.  

Age Level

It’s written for elementary age, but my preschooler loves this book as well. 


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