How long is a mother’s love for her son? Twelve miles long. Frederick’s mama must walk twelve long miles to visit her son who lives in slavery in the master’s Big House while his mother toils far way in the fields. Mama measures her journey in twelve miles of forgetting, remembering, listening, looking up, praying, singing, smiling, dancing, giving thanks, hoping, dreaming, and loving. And she tells Frederick the story of her twelve miles so that he will know who he is and how much she loves him.
Love Twelve Miles Long is illustrated with the beautiful paintings of artist Colin Bootman. In fact, here’s a link to a couple of desktop background illustrations from Love Twelve Miles Long. The story is based on stories from the 1820’s childhood of abolitionist, escaped slave, writer and public speaker Frederick Douglass. In his autobiography Douglass wrote that his mother taught him that he was not “only a child but somebody’s child.”
The love and encouragement of a parent, mother or father, can give a child confidence to rise above difficult circumstances and become more than his background would indicate that he can achieve. I can picture a mother and child reading this book together and using that reading as an expression of love and support.
Four brave employees from LEE & LOW BOOKS set out to see what it is like to walk twelve miles through the streets of New York City from Zuccotti Park to Frederick Douglass Circle in Harlem to the New York Public Library:
Mama had told him that there were things he could not count or measure: there were too many stars, the ocean was too wide, and the mountains of corn were too high. But there was one thing he could measure. Frederick knew with all his heart that his mama’s love was twelve miles long.
Unit studies and curriculum uses for Love Twelve Miles Long: Biography, Black History Month, Frederick Douglass, Family Traditions, Heroism, Mothers, Christian Heritage, Slavery, United States History.