Help the class learn the Follow The Drinking Gourd Song as written in the back of the book. (If necessary, engage a music teacher's assistance in order to accurately decipher the musical score.) After the class has learned the song, reread the text, pausing to have the class sing the song segments. If desired, you may bridge the spoken and sung segments by providing light musical accompaniment (e.g., guitar chords, etc.) throughout the entire shared reading. With some practice, you may want to present a reading of the book, complete with song and instrumental accompaniment, to other classes.
Have the students skim the book to note all of the dangers the runaway slaves encountered on their way to freedom. Make a separate list of all of the hardships they endured while trying to escape. Then, have the children list what choices (besides running away) the slaves had if they wanted to live a free and happy life with their families. (The exercise should help the children realize that the slaves had no options but to stay and be treated cruelly or try to run away.) Help the children understand that the slaves' dark skin color was a hindrance to their escape because anywhere they went they could easily be identified and captured again. Encourage the children to discuss whether they think a person's skin color can make a difference in his or her life today.