Freedom Train


Freedom Train. Coleman, Evelyn;

Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2009
Grade Level: 3-5

ISBN & cost: 9780689847165, $17.99


Freedom Train by Evelyn Coleman; illustrated by David Riley, published by Margaret K. McElderry, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.



Clyde's big brother, Joseph, has been chosen to guard the Freedom Train , which is traveling to all forty-eight states, carrying important documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights . Clyde has been selected to recite the Freedom Pledge when the train stops in Atlanta, but he has stage fright, especially because he's the favorite target of the class bully. Clyde gets a surprise when an African-American boy, William, comes to his rescue. Later, his rescuer's family is threatened with harm if they don't move away. Clyde is really perplexed. Why would anyone want to hurt such nice people? 

General Review: 

“ Freedom Train is a powerful historical fiction title that illustrates the evils of segregation and discrimination for a younger audience. As we celebrate Black History Month in February, children will want to read and discuss this timely and important book with their parents and teachers.” (From Amazon.Com, review by Carol Turner)

Themes: Tolerance, Civil Rights, Segregation, Race relations -- Juvenile fiction. ; Freedom Train -- Juvenile fiction. ; Schools -- Juvenile fiction. ; Bullying -- Juvenile fiction. ; Family -- Georgia -- Juvenile fiction. ; Atlanta (Ga.) -- Juvenile fiction. ; Georgia -- History -- 20th century -- Juvenile fiction.

Author Information:

Evelyn Coleman was born in North Carolina, and became a psychotherapist and then a professional writer, winning numerous awards. She has also written young-adult fiction and adult mystery-thrillers. For more information about her, see author's website, including transcription of an interview with her: .

For historical background of The Freedom Train, see information authored by Larry Wines at:


Discussion Questions: (Standard 3, Bench mark 3) 

•  Which of the important, primary-source documents is most meaningful to you? Explain.

•  Have you and your family visited the state historic site in Topeka, Brown vs. Board of Education? How did this U. S. Supreme Court decision change schools around the country?

•  In today's world of focusing-on-security, would a Freedom Train carrying important documents be practical? Do you foresee that each visitor would have to have a background check? Do you think it could work in 2010? 


•  Memorize the Freedom Pledge. Take turns reciting it in front of the class. (Standard 1, Benchmark1)

•  Attempt to read an excerpt from one of the Freedom Train documents that is new to you. Read at least three paragraphs of this document. Be ready to tell the class what this document is all about. (Standard 1. Benchmark 1)

•  Go to the website discussed above Draw a picture of the 1947 train. Be sure to color it red, white, and blue. (Standard 5, Benchmark 5)

Similar Books for Further Reading: 

Don't Know Much About American History by Kenneth C. Davis Matt Faulkner (Illustrator) 

Keys to American History: Understanding Our Most Important Historic Documents

by Richard Panchyk



Words That Built a Nation: A Young Person's Collection of Historic American Documents

by Marilyn Miller