Friends for Freedom by Suzanne Slade


Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass

Written by Suzanne Slade, Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

(2014) Watertown, MA

Charlesbridge Publishing Inc.

Friends for Freedom: The Story of Susan B. Anthony & Frederick Douglass tells the inspiring and true story of the lifelong friendship between activists Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.  The story compares their upbringings and explains how the pair met, as well as how they went on to fight for equal rights for women and African Americans, no matter how much backlash they received.  The book ends with an author’s note, as well as a more detailed timeline of events that took place in the characters’ lives.

Phrases to describe this book: Non-fiction, history, illustrated, informational

Lexile Measure: 800L

ATOS Book Level: 4.3

Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

Suggested Delivery: Small group read

Reading Strategies:

Before Reading: The following pre-reading activity was found at this PBS webpage.  The activity is as follows:

  1. Begin class by telling students they no longer have the right to speak in class. Tell them that instead of discussions, debates, asking questions, and working in groups, the teacher will now be the sole speaker. Advise students that it will be best for them to sit quietly, listen carefully, and let the teacher do all of the talking and decision making. Tell them that if they have an opinion about something, they will have to keep it to themselves. Wait for a short time and give students time to process this. The room should be quiet. Anyone who attempts to object should be ignored or silenced.
  2. Next, tell students to take out a piece of paper and make a list of the feelings they have about this new rule. They may not talk or work together, but they must create the list. Give them about two minutes to do this.
  3. Finally, explain to students that this is NOT a new rule, but it was used to get them in a mindset that would help them relate to the topic of the day. Ask students to share their list of feelings. Discuss why they had they feelings. When this is completed, tell them to imagine what it would be like to be treated this way.  Explain to students that in the past women, African Americans, and many other groups were really treated this way.

This activity will help to build schema for the reading of this book, and will help students to better comprehend and be able to infer how the characters in the book felt.

During Reading: Have students create a Venn Diagram to fill in as they read. Students should keep track of the similarities and differences between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. This will help students to better comprehend the information they read about the two characters and keep track of this information in an organized way.

After Reading: In small groups, have students create a timeline of events in the story using sticky notes and a long piece of paper or a whiteboard.  By accurately describing the events of the story in chronological order, students will be able to show their comprehension of the story.

Writing Activity:

Tell your students to imagine that they are Susan B. Anthony or Frederick Douglass, and that they can see into the future to what today is like.  Have students write a journal entry as one of the characters about what they think about today’s society.  Are they excited, happy, disappointed about the way things turned out in the future? Why might they be feeling this way? Make sure the students discuss what the characters spent their lives fighting for in the journal, and whether or not they would be happy based on what they are now seeing today.  Was all their hard work worth it?

Additional Resources:

This site allows students to take an audio tour of the Susan B. Anthony house.  This audio tour shows a picture of different rooms or artifacts from the house, and gives information about Anthony’s life.

This video is a kid-friendly cartoon biography about Frederick Douglass.  This will provide students with a bit more information about him and all that he did to end slavery and promote equal rights.

A teaching guide for the book can be downloaded from this website. This guide provides discussion questions, possible debate ideas, etc.

Key Vocabulary:

Amendment- an alteration of or addition to a motion, bill, constitution, etc.

Arsonist- a person who burns another person’s house or property on purpose.

Convention- a meeting for discussion of and action on particular matters of common concern.

Declare- to announce officially

Eloquent- having the power of fluent, moving, or inspiring speech:

Mob- a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.

Petition- a written request made for something desired, (which usually includes the names or signatures of those making the request) written to a superior or to one of those in charge.

Plague- any widespread disease that spreads to many people quickly, and can cause severe sickness or death.

Proper- following established rules, standards of behavior, or manners.

Riot- a noisy, violent public disorder caused by a group or crowd of persons, as by a crowd protesting against another group.

Smallpox- a very contagious and possibly deadly disease that often leaves permanent scars.

 (All definitions obtained/modified from


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