Have you heard of Juneteenth?
I will admit that I didn’t learn that June 19th was recognized as a special day called Juneteenth until I was in college. Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, the day that the abolition of slavery was announced in Texas, and is also recognized as a celebration of the end of slavery in the Confederate South. All over the United States, Juneteenth is still celebrated as an important day in our nation’s history.
Because the freedom of oppressed people is something we should all celebrate, I went on the hunt for some books about Juneteenth I could read with my boys. We learned so much from these selections, and I think your family will enjoy them, too!
If you’re local to Indianapolis, consider heading to the Eiteljorg Museum for their Juneteenth Celebration. We’re excited to attend this year!
5 Children’s Books About Juneteenth
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson — This book follows the story of the first Juneteenth, as seen through the eyes of a young girl experiencing the day in Texas. Johnson’s storytelling makes you feel as though you are right there with the narrator, and E.B. Lewis’s illustrations are the perfect companion to the story.
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper — Young Mazie is tired of hearing “no” from her parents. As she sits with her father and learns more about Juneteenth, she gains perspective about what freedom means, and why it is so important. This gentle story is a great one to read with older or younger children, and it truly shows why recognizing Juneteenth is meaningful for so many families.
Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson — This early reader paints a picture of what life was like in Texas on that fateful June day in 1865. The story is simple enough for beginners to manage, but also presents plenty of great information that will give children a complete picture of the holiday. This would an excellent choice for a classroom or homeschool unit!
Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley — Set in 1943, this book tells the story of two cousins. June is a Texan who loves to celebrate Juneteenth every year, but her cousin Lillie from New York City makes fun of the holiday. It isn’t until the girls talk with Aunt Marhsall, a former slave, that Lillie begins to understand why freedom is so important. This story contrasts slavery with segregation, and shows that even as we celebrate freedom, we still have strides to make toward equality.
Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford — Cassandra has moved with her parents back to their home state of Texas. She’s never heard of Juneteenth before, but as she experiences this celebration of freedom for the first time, she starts to understand why it’s so special. I loved the truly festive feel this book has; both the text and Yvonne Buchanan’s illustrations are uplifting and joyful!
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