title: Building a New Land: African Americans in Colonial America
authors: James Haskins and Kathleen Benson
illustrator: James Ransome
date: Amistad/Harper Collins 2001
middle grade non-fiction
Building a New Land is a nonfiction book about the development of enslavement in the original colonies. The book begins with the history of Africans in the Americas and details how Africans lost more and more of their rights and freedoms. This progression is important for young people not only so that they can better understand US history, but so that they can view enslaved Africans as humans, not as ‘slaves’ who suddenly became part of US History.
The book focuses on the historical developments related to the enslavement of Africans and omits details related to Europeans and Native Americans who were also part of this history. While do often learn the European background of Whites in the book, we rarely know the tribal affiliations of Native Americans who are mentioned.
Haskins and Benson present the differences in ways Africans lost their freedoms in the different colonies over time, an important aspect of enslavement that is often overlooked. It also makes mention of some of the ways Africans contributed to the developing land. The fact-based book is not overburdened with detail, allowing it to present a vast amount of information. A selected bibliography is offered. This is the third book in the African beginning series.