Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Freedom River” as Want to Read:
Freedom River
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Freedom River

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  128 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
There were many heroes of the Underground Railroad. From the tired and weary families who risked their lives to escape slavery to the instruments of freedom who helped them. One such amazing instrument was John Parker. As an ex-slave who had bought his own freedom, he knew of the pain and struggles his brethren were feeling. Parker made it hi
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Jump At The Sun
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Freedom River, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Freedom River

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 221)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
(NS) Becca
Nov 09, 2009 (NS) Becca rated it really liked it
This book has such captivating mixed media pictures that it is difficult not to immediately be drawn into the story. The mood is set through dark colors and shadows and the reader knows at once that the story is serious. I would definitely recommend this book to upper elementary students, primarily for the reason that the topic may be difficult to understand, but also because I found myself having to re-read some parts to understand that Jim was a white man working for a black man. The forward h ...more
Justice Parker
Apr 27, 2016 Justice Parker rated it it was amazing
John Parker was a slave who bought his freedom by working as an iron molder. John Parker was strongly against slavery and wanted all slaves to be free, so he began to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom by rowing families across the Ohio River, and then travel to the underground railroad. This book tells a historical and heart-wrenching story of how he leads a family to their freedom. John’s first attempt to help the family was unsuccessful and John is nearly killed. John comes, back for the fami ...more
Emily McCracken
Mar 25, 2015 Emily McCracken rated it really liked it
Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier, is a story about an African American who was born into slavery who eventually bought his way into freedom. Before the civil war Kentucky was a slave state and Ohio was free. Slaves traveled the underground railroad and crossed the Ohio river where they stayed with people who kept them safe until they could be moved further north. Freedom River is based on John Parker's story to help an African American family escape across the rive ...more
Chrissy Emmons
Feb 13, 2015 Chrissy Emmons rated it it was amazing
This book is extremely captivating. I can feel the tension, emotions, and seriousness through the writers use of language and font. The passage were John is going to get the baby is so well written that I felt as if I was John. The description of the last five feet until John gets the baby is extremely powerful in my opinion. I could feel the tension and nerves coming from John. What surprised me with this non-fiction genre is the seriousness and dark look of what escaping from slavery was reall ...more
Sarah Nottingham
Apr 23, 2015 Sarah Nottingham rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Freedom River by Bryan Collier is about a African American families escape to freedom. I personally enjoyed the story very much. The author made the story easy to follow and the illustration helped engage the reader.
I could use this story as a read aloud or independent read in a 3rd or 4th grade classroom. This would be a wonderful read aloud story during a lesson plan dealing with history of the civil war, or black history month. The story is engaging and teaches children about the fight Afric
Hyeonjeong Lee
Feb 11, 2015 Hyeonjeong Lee rated it really liked it
Personal Reaction - I am very interested in this book because it is based on the real person, who is John Parker and on the real historical background, slavery.

Read aloud to third or fourth graders of elementary school for several potential purposes:
- The mood is set through dark colors and shadows. Children will notice that this story is from serious history.
- This book would encourage elementary school students to have understanding of slavery and how people struggled to get freedom.
Jesse McMorris
Dec 05, 2015 Jesse McMorris rated it it was amazing
Freedom River was written by Dorren Rappaport and illustrated by Byran Collier. The story was about how a man was helping slaves go further north because those were the free states. It focused on one couple with a baby who the main tried to help them get out of the slave states but he failed but he continued to try. The illustrations were great and told a different story, the texture was nice in this one. He used a method were he cut out the pictures and painted them out later. I would use this ...more
Davin Thompson-williams
Jan 13, 2015 Davin Thompson-williams rated it it was amazing
The bravery and selflessness displayed in this story are magnificent. Things like this do not happen as frequently today as they did in those times. This is not simply because slavery was abolished but more so because the individual mentality takes precedence in the modern day. Then it was about freeing others from the suffering one had experienced himself now it's more about getting out of the situation than helping others. This book was a refreshing look at a time when heroes were not herles b ...more
Jul 20, 2014 Shelli rated it it was amazing
John Parker was one of the numerous heroes who helped countless slaves north on their dangerous journey of freedom. Parker, a former slave who purchased his own freedom years previously, never forgot the horror he endured in bondage and vowed to rescue as many African American’s cruelly imprisoned in the South. An intense book, told in an age appropriate manner, to share with students learning about this terrible time in our nation’s history. I look forward to reading more about John Parker and ...more
Freedom River
3 out of 5 stars

The illustrations by Collier have a patchy look; it appears that ripped pieces of construction paper are artfully placed to create the drawings. With the exception of the smooth faces, the illustrations have a jagged and torn feel to them. This is mirrored in the text; characters seem torn between two worlds, fighting for freedom or staying with their masters. Images of African Americans appear at the bottom of the pages at the beginning of the book; they all have
Published: 2000, Sleeping Bear Press
Age: 6-12

John Parker is a seldom heard of former slave who helped with the Underground Railroad and also helped about 900 slaves to escape. This is the story of how he helped one family. For important words the author uses a larger font with repetition for emphasis. The pictures add to the text showing mostly darkened illustrations to visualize the tenseness of the situation. In addition, the illustrator uses a very interesting style combining collage with wat
Adriana Servin-cruz
This book is a true story of John Parker, a former slave and successful businessman who risked his reputation, freedom, and life in order to help other slaves find salvation. The story takes place in a time of slavery between the borders of the free state Ohio and the slave state Kentucky. John owns his business where he works along with a white man named Jim who lives in a plantation across the river of Kentucky and owns a slave family; Isaac, Sarah, and their baby daughter. John becomes determ ...more
L12_luisespinoza Espinoza
Mar 06, 2012 L12_luisespinoza Espinoza rated it really liked it
Shelves: info-bios
This book tells a riveting true story about John Parker, an ex-slave and successful business man. John lives in the free state of Ohio in the town of Ripley, which lies near the Ohio river and across from the slave state of Kentucky. He is part of a group of freedom fighters that are part of the Underground Raiload.

John owns a foundry where he employs African-Americans and a Caucasian iron molder named Jim Shrofe. Jim lives in a plantation across the river in Kentucky and is owner of a slave fam
Nov 28, 2015 Rbettermann added it
Shelves: eled-414
I used this informational text as a mentor text to accompany lessons that I prepared. Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport is a wonderful and very easy to read text bringing clear clarity for readers to understand. John Parker along with Harriet Tubman helps to enrich our understanding of American history. I would recommend this text for grades 2 to beyond. One can always discover information and appreciate what a children's picture book can deliver.
Nov 07, 2012 Arielle rated it really liked it
Grade/interest level: PreK-4th
Reading level: Lexile 330 (GL 3.1)
Genre: Historical fiction
Main Characters: John Parker
Setting: Kentucky, Ohio
Theme: Freedom, the underground rail road
Author: Doreen Rappaport
Harriet Tubman was not the only underground rail road conductor. In fact there were many people who risked their lives to free slaves, and bring them to free states in the America. Freedom River is a story that follows John Parker. John is a hardworking man who bought his freedom, and now
Alison Durbin
Apr 01, 2015 Alison Durbin rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I think this would be a great book to use if I were discussing the Underground Railroad with my students. I also liked how it touched on Kentucky being a slave state. I think it would be important for these who live in KY that their state has a dark past (like most states). This book also has incredible pictures that add to the story overall.
Erika Graves
Oct 05, 2013 Erika Graves rated it really liked it
This book is about John Parker, a freed slave, who lives in Ripley, Ohio and helps slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. This story tells how he helped free an enslaved family in Kentucky by bringing them across the river to Ohio. I am fascinated by the Underground railroad and enjoy hearing stories about slaves being lead to freedom, so I loved this book. I think this book is most appropriate for older elementary students (3rd-4th grade) due to the content and vocabulary used. Stu ...more
Feb 04, 2010 Ch_amyM rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Freedom River by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier was published in 2000 by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children. It was a Coretta Scott King Award Honor book and tells the story of John Parker, a successful African American businessperson in Ripley, Ohio (a free state) who helped tranport slaves across the Ohio River from Kentucky along the Underground railrod.
This is a powerful story of the lengths some people went to in order to help people escape to freedom. It talks about a perso
Feb 16, 2015 Morgan rated it really liked it
The cover of this book shows an African American family of three. I liked this book because it will give students an idea of Americas' history. I would definitely read it to my classroom. I chose this book because I thought it would teach me about a race besides my own. It definitely opened my eyes about what African Americans used to go through and I hope it would open my students eyes.
Beautiful collages mixed with an edge of your seat story about one of the unsung heroes of the Underground Railroad. Loved the different sized font used to emphasize parts of the narration.
Apr 16, 2016 Amber rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Curricular connections: This would be a great book to describe the story of John Parker and his determination and courage to help slaves escape to freedom.
113.12 Social Studies, Grade 1:
(14) Citizenship. The student understands important symbols, customs, and celebrations that represent American beliefs and principles and contribute to our national identity. The student is expected to:
(E) explain how patriotic customs and celebrations reflect American individualism and freedom; and
Sherry Thornberry
this is a beautifully illustrated book that recants the adventures of a family of slaves escaping via the underground railroad. The story is riveting as the escapees face life endangering perils. It made me very sad for slaves. I liked this book but just wish it weren't true.
John Parker was born a slave but earned enough money to buy his freedom. He lived near the border between Ohio (a free state) and Kentucky (a slave state). He was an active conductor on the Underground Railroad.

This book tells the story of how he freed Sarah, Isaac and their baby in a very risky venture. Parker was brave and dedicated to doing what he felt was right.

I love the illustrations by Collier. I also enjoyed reading the symbolism behind the illustrations. Well worth reading. (Haven't r
Nathan P
Aug 03, 2016 Nathan P rated it really liked it
Shelves: ls3013
Historical events/figures, timelines.
Tita Kontodiakos
Nov 20, 2012 Tita Kontodiakos rated it it was ok
- Grade/Interest Level: K-2
- Reading Level: K
- Genre: Multicultural, Biography
- Main characters: John Parker
- Setting: Kentucky, Ohio
- POV: 1st person
Summary: This book is based on the true story of John Parker, an ex-slave who was now a freeman. John helped slaves cross the Ohio River from Kentucky to the free state of Ohio. John is attempting to save a couple and their baby who are treated horribly by a master across the river.
Theme: The theme of this book reflects the issue of helping others
Feb 24, 2016 Teri rated it really liked it
True story of John Parker
Jul 03, 2012 Robert rated it liked it
Bryan Colliers' art showcases an original style combining watercolor with collage, and together form a vibrant and unique look to this book. The story is an account of an attempt by a conductor of the underground railroad to bring a slave family across the Ohio River and into freedom. It is not only a good introduction to young readers about slavery and the underground Railroad, but also a good reminder to all readers about the bravery and dangers that ordinary people faced in the struggle again ...more
Brooke Jenkins
Dec 06, 2013 Brooke Jenkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: final-project
Final Project

I genuinely enjoyed reading this story. I am always intrigued by the stories of brave individuals who made a difference in this world due to that courage. John Parker put his life on the line multiple times to help families cross the river to freedom. Stories like his are the ones that need to be highlighted and told. I also think that allowing readers to see the selflessness and sense of community amongst slaves and former slaves is valuable in understanding the slave culture.
Brenda Kimble
Dec 10, 2013 Brenda Kimble rated it it was amazing
These books have a powerful meaning with few words. I really like this book because it shows a people joining together as one to fight for a cause freedom. Again there are little words with much meaning this book recites the history of black people. It shows bravery and how they fought for their rights as a people need to know these things and pass it to our young. This book displays pride, power and unity. This is a great book.
John Parkeran an ex-slave who bought his own freedom, made it his goal to help slave families escape their life of suffering into a free land. He was a buisnessman who helped with the Underground Railroad. He helped slaves from the slave state of Ky to the free state of Ohio. This is a good book to go along with a history lesson and also to read during Black History mounth. Recommend for 3rd to 7th.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Almost to Freedom
  • Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman
  • Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
  • Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
  • Dear Benjamin Banneker
  • Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
  • Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali
  • Only Passing Through
  • Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane
  • New Shoes
  • Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky
  • Nettie's Trip South
  • The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd
  • Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton
  • Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan
  • Civil War Poetry and Prose
  • The Gingerbread Cowboy
Doreen Rappaport has written many books of fiction and nonfiction for young readers, specializing in thoroughly researched multicultural history, historical fiction, retellings of folktales and myths, and stories of those she calls the "not-yet-celebrated." Among her recent books is MARTIN'S BIG WORDS: THE LIFE OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., illustrated by Bryan Collier, which received a Caldecot ...more
More about Doreen Rappaport...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »