Posted by: nancyisanders | June 7, 2012

Book Launch Party: Frederick Douglass for Kids

Welcome back to my book launch party to celebrate the release of my newest book, Frederick Douglass for Kids!

As a young boy, Frederick Douglass was sent to live in Baltimore with Hugh Auld, his wife, and son. “Freddie” was to be a playmate for the Aulds’ little son. His duties would also include running errands and helping out as he was needed. This sign marks the place where Douglass lived for the next few years in the Auld household.

Here’s a view of the street as it looks today. I’m not sure if these buildings were there in the mid-1800s when Frederick Douglass lived in Baltimore, but this is what the street looks like now. See the sign on the corner?

One day, Hugh caught his wife teaching Frederick Douglass to read. Reacting with anger, he ordered her to stop, saying that he would be forever unfit as a slave.

That event made a huge difference to Frederick Douglass for it was then that he realized the power of learning to read. He determined to learn to read no matter what the cost. And he did. Sent frequently on errands throughout the streets of Baltimore, he asked his young friends he knew throughout the town to help him learn how to read…and he learned how to write by writing on board fences (like the one in this photo) to copy another boy’s letters.

This is a photo of the brick buildings down by the wharfs and docks at Fell’s Point in Baltimore.

And this is a shot of one of the wharfs today. It was here in this area that Frederick Douglass first watched shipbuilders building ships and noticed that they marked the pieces of wood they were working on with L for Larboard, S for starboard, F for forward, and A for aft. Frederick copied these letters as the very first ones he learned to write.

Today’s stop on my virtual Book Launch Party is taking place at the site Random Acts of Writing, hosted by Lori Mortensen, children’s author of the delightful new picture book, Cindy Moo.

Visit her site to learn more about Frederick Douglass as well as famous abolitionists of his day!

The prize that you can enter today for a chance to win is a set of autographed full-color bookmarks for my new book, Frederick Douglass and Kids! These bookmarks are just perfect for all the readers in your family, both young and old. Especially with summer reading coming up, they’re a great way to track which page you’re on. Just e-mail me today at to let me know you’re following along on my tour or post a comment here to answer the question below to get your name in the hat for a chance to win the prize. (A winner will be announced on Monday, June 11 here on my blog.)

Have you ever visited a historic site where you walked in the footsteps of a great American such as Frederick Douglass? If so, where did you go and what did you experience?


  1. I love the story that Hugh Auld said that Frederick Douglass would be unfit for a slave if he was educated, and that Frederick took this to heart and realized the full ramifications of it. Awesome.

    • Isn’t that amazing, Beth? And in his autobiography, Frederick Douglass says that he realized the power education had, even as a little child!

  2. This looks like a really wonderful book, Nancy. Congratulations.

    • Thanks, Rosi! And congratulations again on winning the contest for the free query critique!

      • WooHoo! I’m very excited!

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