Today we will talk about 23 Children's Books About Juneteenth for 2023. Juneteenth is on June 19th it is an African American holiday, on this day in 1865 slaves in Texas learned they were free they had a big celebration, we celebrate too how we go to church we give thanks we pray.
On June 19, 1865, Granger proclaimed General Order No. 3, declaring the freedom of 250,000 enslaved people in Texas, and by doing so, every enslaved person in America finally knew that slavery was over, they were freed.
Juneteenth commemorates this day and is passed down from generation to generation.
Explore the history of Juneteenth, the official end of slavery, by reading these children's books about Juneteenth with your kids. And teach your kids about the history of Juneteenth with these 23 books about Juneteenth.
Browse this list of beautiful children’s books celebrating Juneteenth, for Preschool, Elementary School, Middle School, and High School, and Teach kids about Juneteenth (Freedom Day).
What is Juneteenth and Why Do We Celebrate?
Some of you may not be aware of this but America actually has two Independence Days. One celebrates America's freedom from Britain's rule.
Another holiday, Juneteenth, commemorates a day when a Union General came into Texas and gave an order to actually end slavery.
Emancipation Proclamation take care of that?" And my answer to you is this: You actually thought the Confederate states obey the law?!
Okay. Sure. On January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared all slaves held in the Confederate States to be free. But that news never reached the Texas slaves and there are many theories as to why.
Maybe someone literally murdered the messenger that was sent to Texas to inform them. Maybe, in typical Confederate fashion, they withheld some information from the slaves. Some historians believe that since the Civil War wasn't over yet that the lack of Union Army presence in Texas made it hard for Lincoln's proclamation to be enforced.
Nonetheless, it was cotton-picking business as usual in Texas despite the proclamation. Some slave owners in neighboring states moved their slaves to Texas because they thought that the Confederate Army would eventually win the war and when it was over they could get their "property" back.
So when Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas with Union soldiers behind him and saw all of these slaves he decided to make an announcement on June 19, 1865.
First off a proclamation was made by the President to free all these slaves two and a half years ago.
Second, you are no longer slave owners and slaves. You're employers and those are your hired workers.
Some slaves dipped out of there before Granger could even finish his announcement. Other slaves decided to go and leave the state so that they could repair their families that were torn apart by the slave trade. Others decided to fly up north. And they live happily ever after, right?
No, of course not. By law, they were free men and women but in reality, still enslaved by oppression and violence. Black bodies still hung from the branches. Some were even shot for their freedom. But freed men and women wanted to celebrate that they were just that: free.
They created a holiday that was originally called June the 19th but then it was kind of squeezed together and now it's Juneteenth. When they wanted to celebrate the first annual Juneteenth, segregation laws forbade them from using public spaces.
Okay. That's fine. We'll celebrate near rivers and lakes. They dress in the fanciest clothes so they could combat laws that required them to wear ragged clothing. They ate barbecues, sang spirituals, and preached religious sermons. Strawberry soda was the drink of choice and they also ate a lot of red fruits and desserts like strawberry pie and red velvet cake to commemorate the blood that was spilled during slavery.
These rituals still occur in today's Juneteenth celebrations, whether it be parades, cookouts, or five-day festivals. And since whites didn't want to share their own spaces with blacks, blacks decided that they will raise their own funds for their own celebrations sites such as Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas.
As the former Texas slaves decided to migrate across the country, so did the importance of Juneteenth which is also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day.
In 1980 Texas was the first state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday when state offices are not close,d but partially staffed. So far, 45 states have recognized the historical significance of Juneteenth. And guess what? Alabama wasn't last this time. Alabama was the 40th state to do so, but it didn't get the same paid state holiday status as Confederate Memorial Day or Robert E. Lee Day.
There's also a national campaign that makes Juneteenth a federal holiday. Whitewashed textbooks didn't and still don't mention Juneteenth. Because of that a lot of people are still finding out about Juneteenth.
So whether you found out about Juneteenth decades ago, a few weeks ago, or even just now, don't worry. There will be plenty of cookouts, parades, and festivals to celebrate the resiliency of the black community.
Let's Celebrate Juneteenth Song
23 Books to Teach Kids About Juneteenth in 2023
Here are some thought-provoking books to teach kids of all ages about Juneteenth and the responsibility we all have now more than ever to dismantle the structures and institutions that survive liberation and make America truly free for everyone The place.
Here’s a list of books for young readers of all ages to read to learn more about Juneteenth and Black History.
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1. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom (aged 5-9)
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis.
Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. Since then, the observance of June 19 as African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.
This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms.
Told in Angela Johnson’s signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis’s striking paintings, All Different Now is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation’s history.
Angela Johnson has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels The First Part Last, Heaven, and Toning the Sweep. The First Part Last was also the recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award. She is also the author of the novels Looking for Red and A Certain October.
Her books for younger readers include the Coretta Scott King Honor Book When I Am Old with You, illustrated by David Soman; Wind Flyers and I Dream of Trains, both illustrated by Loren Long; and Lottie Paris Lives Here and its sequel Lottie Paris and the Best Place, both illustrated by Scott M. Fischer.
Additional picture books include A Sweet Smell of Roses, Just Like Josh Gibson, The Day Ray Got Away, and All Different Now. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio. Visit her at AJohnsonAuthor.com.
This book tells the story of the first Juneteenth through the eyes of a young enslaved girl. Young readers can easily understand the hardships and cruelties of slavery, as well as the joy and optimism that the end of slavery will bring.
2. Juneteenth for Mazie
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
Floyd Cooper's book portrays Mazie, a little girl tired of hearing "no." From her parents, she doesn't feel like she has any freedom.
However, when her father taught her about Juneteenth, she gained a new understanding of what freedom really means.
As she celebrated Juneteenth with her family for the first time, she thought deeply about the struggles and triumphs of her ancestors, and the work needed to achieve a truly free future for everyone.
3. Juneteenth (On My Own Holidays)
Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson
June 19th, 1865, began as another hot day in Texas. Enslaved African Americans worked in fields, in barns, and in the homes of the white people who owned them.
Then a message arrived. Freedom! Slavery had ended! The Civil War had actually ended in April. It took two months for word to reach Texas. Still, the joy of that amazing day has never been forgotten.
Every year, people all over the United States come together on June 19th to celebrate the end of slavery. Join in the celebration of Juneteenth, a day to remember and honor freedom for all people.
4. Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story
Freedom's Gifts: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley
With the help of their elderly Aunt Marshall, June and her cousin Lillie celebrate Juneteenth, the day Texas slaves found out they had been freed, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
5. Juneteenth Jamboree
Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
Joining her parents in a community celebration of Juneteenth, Cassie learns about the day when slaves in Texas were freed some two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and wonders why the news took so long to reach them.
This book tells the wonderful story of Cassie, a young Texas girl who celebrates her first Juneteenth with her family. Not only did she learn about the festival, but the intense excitement and joy of the celebration helped her truly understand the precious gift of true freedom.
6. Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free
Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan
Every year, Opal looked forward to the Juneteenth picnic—a drumming, dancing, delicious party. She knew from Granddaddy Zak's stories that Juneteenth celebrated the day the freedom news of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation finally sailed into Texas in 1865—over two years after the president had declared it! But Opal didn't always see freedom in her Texas town.
Then the one-Juneteenth day when Opal was twelve years old, an angry crowd burned down her brand-new home. This wasn't freedom at all. She had to do something!
But could one person’s voice make a difference? Could Opal bring about national recognition of Juneteenth? Follow Opal Lee as she fights to improve the future by honoring the past.
Through the story of Opal Lee's determination and persistence, children ages 4 to 8 will learn:
- all people are created equal
- the power of bravery and using your voice for change
- the history of Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, and What it means today
- no one is free unless everyone is free
- fighting for a dream is worth the difficulty experienced along the way
Featuring the illustrations of New York Times bestselling illustrator Keturah A. Bobo (I am Enough), Opal Lee, and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan celebrates the life and legacy of a modern-day Black leader while sharing a message of hope, unity, joy, and strength.
7. What is Juneteenth?
What Is Juneteenth? (What Was?) by Kirsti Jewel and Who HQ
On June 19, 1865, a group of enslaved men, women, and children in Texas gathered around a Union soldier and listened as he read the most remarkable words they would ever hear.
They were no longer enslaved: they were free. The inhumane practice of forced labor with no pay was now illegal in all of the United States.
This news was cause for celebration, so the group of people jumped in excitement, danced, and wept tears of joy. They did not know it at the time, but their joyous celebration of freedom would become a holiday--Juneteenth--that is observed each year by more and more Americans.
Author Kirsti Jewel shares stories from Juneteenth celebrations, both past, and present, and chronicles the history that led to the creation of this joyous day.
With 80 black-and-white illustrations and an engaging 16-page photo insert, readers will be excited to read this latest addition to Who HQ!
8. Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem
Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
Deeply emotional, evocative free verse by poet and activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle traces the solemnity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins in Galveston, Texas to contemporary observances all over the United States.
This is an ode to the strength of Black Americans and a call to remember and honor a holiday whose importance reverberates far beyond the borders of Texas.
9. The Juneteenth Story
The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States by Alliah L. Agostini
With colorful illustrations and a timeline, this introductory history of Juneteenth for kids details the evolution of the holiday commemorating the date the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom.
On June 19, 1865—more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation—the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom. That day became a day of remembrance and celebration that changed and grew from year to year.
Learn about the events that led to emancipation and why it took so long for the enslaved people in Texas to hear the news. The first Juneteenth began as “Jubilee Day,” where families celebrated and learned of their new rights as citizens.
As Black Texans moved to other parts of the country, they brought their traditions along with them, and Juneteenth continued to grow and develop.
Today, Juneteenth’s powerful spirit has endured through the centuries to become an official holiday in the United States in 2021. The Juneteenth Story provides an accessible introduction for kids to learn about this important American holiday.
10. Juneteenth (Celebrating Holidays)
Juneteenth (Celebrating Holidays) by Rachel Grack
On June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation Galveston, Texas became the last place in the country to learn the slaves were free. Today, Juneteenth is a joyful occasion with parades, speeches, music, and more!
This engaging book teaches the fascinating origins and traditions of Juneteenth, honoring the freedom of African Americans.
11. Let's Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth
Let's Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth by Barbara deRubertis
In the 1800s, abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth fought for freedom from slavery for all African Americans.
They fought with speeches, songs, newspapers, and even with daring rescue missions! Every year on both Emancipation Day and Juneteenth we honor and continue their fight for freedom and equality.
Holidays & Heroes brings to life the people whose holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Enriched with colorful historical images, books in this series will engage children in the stories behind our holidays and the people they honor.
Juneteenth by Julie Murray
Easy-to-read text paired with colorful photos and informative captions introduces readers to a meaningful holiday, Juneteenth. Readers will learn the history of Juneteenth, including slavery in the United States, the American Civil War, and the birth of Juneteenth as a Texas state holiday.
Associated symbols such as the color red and the Juneteenth flag are described, as well as traditions including parades and picnics, music and games, and special foods and drinks.
This title concludes with a full-page explaining the fight for freedom and equality for African Americans in the United States. Features include a table of contents, a glossary with phonetic spellings, and an index. Buddy BOOKS is an imprint of ABDO Publishing Company.
13. The Story of Juneteenth
The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure by Steven Otfinoski
The Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War brought an official end to slavery, yet some Southern slave owners are refusing to comply.
The road to freedom is still long and hard for many African Americans, but you’re not giving up. Will you: Overcome obstacles as you make your way north from Texas, looking to begin a new life of freedom?
Seek out your family, from whom you were separated as a child, after emancipation. Fight back when you take work as an apprentice but find that you’re still treated as a slave?
YOU CHOOSE offers multiple perspectives on history, supporting Common Core reading standards and providing readers a front-row seat to the past.
14. Traditional African American Arts and Activities
Traditional African American Arts and Activities by Sonya Kimble-Ellis
African Americans throughout our country's history have developed a rich heritage of arts and activities.
Now you can discover and enjoy many of these traditions, from celebrating Juneteenth to making African masks to creating unique quilts, right in your own home.
TRADITIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTS AND ACTIVITIES show you how to do traditional tie-dyeing, how to make and play your own talking drum, and how to join with friends to create your own folktale.
You'll learn all about the history and development of jazz, blues, and rap music, and you'll find out how to play fun games like Mancala, murabba, chiro danda, and more.
With fun projects and easy-to-follow directions, this captivating learn-and-do guide explores the treasured stories and customs of the earliest African Americans and of their descendants today.
15. The Compton Cowboys: Young Readers’ Edition (ages 8-12)
The Compton Cowboys: Young Readers’ Edition: And the Fight to Save Their Horse Ranch by Walter Thompson-Hernandez
In Compton, California, ten black riders on horseback cut an unusual profile, their cowboy hats tilted against the hot Los Angeles sun. They are the Compton Cowboys, their small ranch one of the very last in a formerly semirural area of the city that has been home to African-American horse riders for decades.
To most people, Compton is known only as the home of rap greats NWA and Kendrick Lamar, hyped in the media for its seemingly intractable gang violence.
But in 1988 Mayisha Akbar founded The Compton Jr. Posse to provide local youth with a safe alternative to the streets, one that connected them with the rich legacy of black cowboys in American culture.
From Manisha's youth organization came the Cowboys of today: black men and women from Compton for whom the ranch and the horses provide camaraderie, a respite from violence, healing from trauma, and recovery from incarceration.
The Cowboys include Randy, Mayisha’s nephew, faced with the daunting task of remaking the Cowboys for a new generation; Anthony, former drug dealer and inmate, now a family man and mentor, Keiara, a single mother pursuing her dream of winning a national rodeo championship, and a tight clan of twentysomethings—Kenneth, Keenan, Charles, and Tre—for whom horses bring the freedom, protection, and status that often elude the young black men of Compton.
The Compton Cowboys is a story about trauma and transformation, race and identity, compassion, and ultimately, belonging. Walter Thompson-Hernández paints a unique and unexpected portrait of this city, pushing back against stereotypes to reveal an urban community in all its complexity, tragedy, and triumph.
In addition to reading about the Compton Cowboys, kids will get to see them and the horses that saved their lives. This book includes an 8-page insert of color photos by the author, Whiting Grant winner, and New York Times reporter Walter Thompson-Hernández.
16. A Good Kind of Trouble (ages 8-12)
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
From debut author Lisa Moore Ramée comes this funny and big-hearted debut middle-grade novel about friendship, family, and standing up for what's right, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and the novels of Renée Watson and Jason Reynolds.
Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she'd also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)
But in junior high, it's like all the rules have changed. Now she's suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she's not black enough. Wait, what?
Shay's sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn't think that's for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.
Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn't face her fear, she'll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that's trouble, for real.
Lisa Moore Ramée was born and raised in Los Angeles, and she now lives in the Bay Area of California, with her husband, two kids, and two obnoxious cats. She is the author of A Good Kind of Trouble and Something to Say. You can visit her online at www.lisamooreramee.com.
17. Heart and Soul (ages 6-10)
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
Heart and Soul are about the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton; it's about America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.
Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul—the winner of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five-starred reviews—is told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator.
This inspiring book demonstrates that in striving for freedom and equal rights, African Americans help our country on the journey toward its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.
18. Shaking Things Up (ages 4-8)
Shaking Things Up 14 Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood
Fresh, accessible, and inspiring, Shaking Things Up introduces fourteen revolutionary young women—each paired with a noteworthy female artist—to the next generation of activists, trailblazers, and rabble-rousers.
From the award-winning author of Ada’s Violin and Lifeboat 12, Susan Hood, this is a poetic and visual celebration of persistent women throughout history.
In this book of poems, you will find Mary Anning, who was just thirteen when she unearthed a prehistoric fossil. You’ll meet Ruby Bridges, the brave six-year-old who helped end segregation in the South. And Maya Lin, who at twenty-one won a competition to create a war memorial, and then had to appear before Congress to defend her right to create.
And those are just a few of the young women included in this book. Readers will also hear about Molly Williams, Annette Kellerman, Nellie Bly, Pura Belpré, Frida Kahlo, Jacqueline, and Eileen Nearne, Frances Moore Lappé, Mae Jemison, Angela Zhang, and Malala Yousafzai—all of whose stories will enthrall and inspire.
This poetry collection was written, illustrated, edited, and designed by women and includes an author’s note, a timeline, and additional resources.
With artwork by award-winning and bestselling artists including Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, and Melissa Sweet.
Juneteenth: Children’s Guide to Celebrating African American Independence by Shanita Arrindell
Juneteenth How to Explain the History of Vacations to Preschool to 5 Years Old.
This straightforward story by Shanita Arrindell is perfect for helping our youngest children understand the concepts of slavery and freedom, and also teaching them the power of hope to help us overcome hardship.
20. Juneteenth (Beautiful Me Series)
Juneteenth (Beautiful Me Series) by Anece Rochell
This is a fun and interactive storybook by Anice Rochell about the voice of Daylen, a young African American boy who is excited and ready to share what he knows about Juneteenth. He explained the origin, customs, and importance of the day. The book ends with "Things to Know". page to help children build Juneteenth vocabulary.
Daylen (one of the characters from the Beautiful Me Series) is excited and ready to share everything he knows about Juneteenth. Juneteenth is an entertaining picture storybook that explains the origin, customs, and importance of the Juneteenth Holiday, in a fun and interactive way.
This book is the fourth installment in the Beautiful Me Series, and just like the other books in this series, Juneteenth ends with the Words to know page, to help children build a stronger vocabulary.
21. Freedom Day: A Juneteenth Activity Book for Kids
Freedom Day: A Juneteenth Activity Book for Kids by Ama Karikari Yawson
Through prose and poetry, Ama Karikari Yawson's book explores African heritage, slavery, the abolition movement, and Juneteenth. It provides readers with lots of fun activities to do, including planning Juneteenth celebrations, designing your own flag to represent Juneteenth, and writing Juneteenth reflections.
This activity book contains the history of Juneteenth as well as vocabulary words, essay questions, coloring pages, and other fun exercises that will allow users to deeply reflect on this important American holiday.
22. How the Word Is Passed
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
This stunning nonfiction by Atlantic contributing writer Clint Smith explores the legacy of slavery and its imprint on America's centuries-old history. This is a great book for parents to read with older children.
The author takes readers on a tour of American monuments and landmarks that are central to the story of American slavery, and in doing so demonstrates the extent to which slavery has affected American memory and history.
23. The Color of Law
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
Residential segregation in metropolitan areas of the United States in the 20th century. Using a range of tools, including taxing biased agencies, subsidizing real estate developers who created white suburbs, cutting off public housing in mixed neighborhoods, and supporting violent resistance against African Americans in white neighborhoods.
The government created race The divisions that remain so evident in the country’s residential landscape today perpetuate the deep structural inequalities and injustices of slavery itself.