Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Follow The Drinking Gourd

Because it is Black History month in February, I thought I would share some found resources based around the song "Follow the Drinking Gourd".  It is a pretty well known song, but while teaching this month, I found some great books and youtube videos to help with the background info.

When I teach this song, we discuss what all the clues in the song might mean.  We live right by the Ohio River so it is always good to reference when the song mentions "the river on the other side".  We talk about what time of year it would be when "the first quail calls" and why "the river would make a mighty good road."  Just this year I found a lot of info on Peg Leg Joe, the man who wrote the song and saved over half a million lives.

One of the great books I have found is "Follow The Drinking Gourd" by Jeanette Winter (ISBN 0-679-81997-5).  This book inserts the song into a story about Peg Leg Joe and how he traveled from plantation to plantation and taught the song to the slaves, giving them directions to freedom.  It then follows a family of Slaves who escape from their owners and make it to the Underground Railroad in Ohio.

A YouTube video I have been showing this year has Elisabeth Williams Bushey introducing the song, and then singing it, with illustrations to show the clues.   She, and some pop-ups, gives a lot of great background info, but talks a little long (even the pop-ups on the video tell her to "get to the song already").  You can find that link here:

Here are some links to some other great performances of the song: - This one is performed by Ritchie Havens and shows images from Graue Mill, Gettysburg one of the stops on the Underground Railroad, such as shackels, slave auction notices, etc. - This is a read aloud of the book mentioned above with a great intro.  The intro is a little long, but gives LOTS of good info.  The read aloud part starts at 2:55. - This one is just the song, but has the lyrics along the bottom so students can sing along.

There are many other books about this song, that I have not bought or purchased, so feel free to share your favorite!

1 comment:

  1. There is a reading rainbow episode that features this book. I like to use it for a sub lesson. The introduction is pretty powerful so I mostly use it with the Upper Elementary age. The show also features the group Sweet Honey in the Rock, and they really show how singing e such a part of African culture! You can find the episode on YouTube or I have seen it in catalogues.