To Be a Slave

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To Be a Slave
To Be a Slave.jpg
AuthorJulius Lester
IllustratorTom Feelings
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherDial Books for Young Readers
Publication date
Media typePrint
Followed byTo Be a Slave, Long Journey Home (Dial, 1972) 

To Be A Slave is a 1968 nonfiction children's book by Julius Lester, illustrated by Tom Feelings. It explores what it was like to be a slave. The book includes many personal accounts of former slaves, accompanied by Lester's historical commentary and Feelings' powerful and muted paintings. To Be a Slave has been a touchstone in children literature for more than 30 years.[1]


To Be a Slave has won numerous awards, including the 1968 Newbery Honor medal.[1] It was an ALA Notable Book, won the School Library Journal's Best Book of the Year, and Smithsonian Magazine's Best Book of the Year.[2] It was given a 1970 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.


  1. ^ a b Wilensky, Melody. "A Western Mass. Jewel: 'I always took God very seriously,' says UMass-Amherst professor Julius Lester," Jewish Advocate (January 20, 2000).
  2. ^ Writers of Multicultural Fiction for Young Adults : A Bio-Critical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. The African American Experience. Greenwood Publishing Group. (October 20, 2015)