10 Books About Juneteenth to Add to Your Classroom Library

Juneteenth is a national celebration in the United States that dates back to 1865 when Galveston, Texas, became the final American city to learn about the emancipation of enslaved people. Today, this occasion is celebrated annually on June 19, with parades, speeches and music celebrating the achievements of Black people. Make sure your students are aware of this important cultural holiday and historic event by adding one or more of these titles to your classroom library!

 

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Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free
by Alice Faye Duncan
Interest level: P-3

The true story of Black activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone will inspire children to be brave and make a difference. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that most Americans had never heard of the holiday that represents the nation’s creed of “freedom for all.”

 

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Juneteenth for Mazie
by Floyd Cooper
Interest level: K-3

Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a momentous day in American history – the day her ancestors were no longer enslaved. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.

 

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Juneteenth
by Rachel Grack
Interest level: K-3

On June 19, 1865 – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation – Galveston, Texas became the last place in the country to learn that enslaved people 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.

 

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Free At Last: A Juneteenth Poem
by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
Interest level: K-3

A poet and activist presents this deeply emotional picture book in which she traces the solemnity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins in Galveston, Texas, to contemporary observances all over the U.S.

 

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The Story Behind Juneteenth
by Jack Reader
Interest level: 1-3

In this book, readers are given an in-depth look at the history of Juneteenth, including the events leading up to its creation. Readers will love learning about how this important moment in U.S. history is celebrated each year.

 

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The History of Juneteenth
by Maximilian Smith
Interest level: 1-3

This title delves into the American Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and the events that led to this special holiday for African Americans and everyone who celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Carefully chosen photographs reflect this special commemoration, both in the past and today.

 

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The Juneteenth Story:
Celebrating The End Of Slavery In The United States

by Alliah L. Agostini
Interest level: 1-4

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​. 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. 

 

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Build a House
by Rhiannon Giddens
Interest level: 2-5

As an acclaimed musician, singer, songwriter, and cofounder of the traditional African American string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens has long used her art to mine America's musical past and manifest its future, passionately recovering lost voices and reconstructing a nation's musical heritage. Steeped in sorrow and joy, resilience and resolve, turmoil and transcendence, this dramatic debut offers a proud view of history and a vital message for readers of all ages: honor your heritage, express your truth and let your voice soar, even when your heart is heaviest.

 

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All Different Now:
Juneteenth, The First Day of Freedom

by Angela Johnson
Interest level: 2-5

Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom. 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 enslaved people in the U.S. This stunning picture book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates and a glossary of relevant terms.

 

Juneteenth cover image

Juneteenth
by Kevin P. Winn and Kelisa Wing
Interest level: 5-8

Juneteenth explores the history around the celebration in a comprehensive, honest and age-appropriate way. Developed in conjunction with educator, advocate and author Kelisa Wing to reach children of all races and encourage them to approach our history with open eyes and minds.

 

What books and activities have you used to teach your students about Juneteenth? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

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