Follow the Drinking Gourd


How would you escape from slavery?

Slavery was a harsh and inhuman condition in the antebellum South.    Escape was hope.  

This is an inspiring story of one family, parents Mollie and James, son Isaiah, old Hattie and grandson George, gather their courage and face the dangers of a journey toward freedom.  How do they know what route to follow?  They needed to know the secrets of the Underground Railroad.

A one-legged white sailor by the name of  Peg Leg Joe would hire himself out as a handyman to do work on plantations.  While he was there he would make friends with the slaves and he sang them a song, "Follow the Drinking Gourd,' which covertly contained the directions that could lead the slaves north to freedom.  

As the slaves on each plantation would learn the song, Peg Leg Joe would then move on to another plantation spreading the word through his song.  

The Big Dipper was known as the Drinking Gourd and the slaves learned how to follow the Gourd in the sky to take them to a life free of slavery.

This is a story about courage and strength.  It's also a story about people helping other people.  


978-0679819974   Ages 7-10   48 pages 


Editor's note:  It is important to emphasize to children hearing this story that the courage and strength of the black slaves is the core of this story.   White people may have helped but it is ultimately the self-reliance, wisdom, bravery and willingness to risk of the black slaves that made their escape successful.  

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


 Editor's Note:  Additional information regarding the route of the Drinking Gourd and other titles:

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