Must-Read Children’s Books To Celebrate Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, General Gordon Granger of the Union Army delivered the message that African Americans in Texas were free. Even though the emancipation proclamation was declared in 1863, this group was the last to receive the news. There was a huge celebration, and the day became known as Juneteenth (June Nineteenth). It was primarily celebrated in Texas, but as people moved to different parts of the country, the celebration went with them.

In the past few years, this holiday has gained popularity and awareness. There are many ways to celebrate Juneteenth, from barbeques to festive foods, parades, games, and more. I’ve included some awesome kids’ books to help you celebrate this special day.

yes no Celebrate by learning about the holiday 9780593568149 Jayylen’s Juneteenth Surprise by Lavaille Lavette, illustrated by David Wilkerson

Curious little ones want to know: what is the Juneteenth holiday, and why do we celebrate it? From the Little Golden Book series comes a brand new book that answers these questions. It breaks down the day’s history in an age-appropriate way, and words like Paw Paw Jimmy, Zydeco, and Frottoir (a type of instrument) are just plain fun to say.

9780823452248 A Flag for Juneteenth by Kim Taylor

Little Huldah’s 10th birthday is on June 19, and she is excited to celebrate. But what happens on her birthday morning changes her community forever. How will they process the news? Will they celebrate? Will they create something new to mark the occasion? This joyful story is told through the eyes of a little girl with an illustration style that mimics the beautiful detailing in quilts.

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9780593434789 Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom by Sharon Dennis Wyeth, illustrated by Kim Holt

Freedom Day, Emancipation Day, Juneteenth — it goes by many names, but celebrating this holiday is fun, fun, fun. In the popular Step Into Reading series, newly independent readers can easily learn more about this holiday in a familiar format. This is an excellent addition to your collection of Step 3 books.

9780593384695 What Is Juneteenth? by Kirsti Jewel and Who HQ, illustrated by Manuel Gutierrez

My oldest loves the Who HQ books and the Netflix adaptation. This nonfiction middle grade book has 11 chapters with additional timelines and a bibliography in the back. These books make history so fun and interesting that you’ll forget you’re learning.

9780593567463 The Night Before Freedom by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Corey Barksdale

This delightful, rhyming picture book tells the Juneteenth story through the familiar cadence of Clement C. Moore’s poem, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Paired with Corey Barksdale’s rich, vibrant, and detailed illustrations, this keepsake book is a treasure to pass down to future generations.

9780744098877 A Kid’s Book About Juneteenth by Garrison Hayes

If your kid has many questions about Juneteenth and you’re ready to have a challenging and empowering conversation with them, this brand-new book is where to start. Together, you can explore the history, the present, and the future of this meaningful summer holiday. A Kids Co. has written over 33 books in the A Kid’s Book About series that has become a go-to for ‘kickstarting important conversations between kids and grownups’.

yes no Celebrate by advocating for change 9780593431269 Rocket Says Speak Up by Nathan Bryon, illustrated by Dapo Adeola

The Rocket series of books is a favorite in our house probably because Dapo Adeola has drawn this character as absolutely adorable. In this third book, Rocket, the precocious and outspoken advocate for change, finds out that her local library is being shut down and rallies her community and family to raise awareness and funds to help.

9780593203224 Change Sings by Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Loren Long

“I can hear change humming, In its loudest, proudest song. I don’t fear change coming, And so I sing along.”

Presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s fantastic poem about a group of kids working together to make much-needed change in their community easily makes the list for one of my favorite social justice picture books ever. Combine this with award-winning Loren Long’s gorgeous mural-style illustrations, and adding this one to your permanent collection is a no-brainer.

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9780399246531 The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

Since its release, this sweet book by award-winning duo Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez has instantly become a back-to-school classic. The lyrical text explores the common feelings of being an outsider. Being nervous about our differences, whether hair, skin color, what we eat, or how we speak, is universal, and choosing to form connections with others anyway makes us brave. This is a great book for getting kids to talk about how they feel different and how they can be empathetic to differences in others.

yes no Celebrate by by being with friends, family, and community 9781561459384 Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter

This Caldecott Honor-winning book follows three siblings traveling with their dad to visit their Granny’s house in the South. This beautifully illustrated story highlights the joy of seeing great and great-great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins at a family reunion.

9781536220414 Bros by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Reggie Brown

This book screams Black Boy Joy, and for good reason. It was inspired by the trending #blackboyjoy hashtag, which has spurred a movement. From the time they wake, the boys craft, lay in the grass, take selfies, play games, and more. With fun rhymes and Reggie Brown’s signature illustrations, this snapshot of Black boys spending a day in their community unencumbered is a joy to read and share.

RELATED: 30 Picture Books Featuring Black Male Protagonists

9780593526309 My Block Looks Like by Janelle Harper, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Celebrated dance teacher and first time author Janelle Harper’s ode to the Bronx is an uplifting and lyrical anthem for city kids. Highlighting the beauty of the bodegas, the subways and the everyday smells and sounds of this New York City borough, Harper instills pride in those that live there. With Frank Morrison’s art, as bustling, energetic, and full of life as the city is, this new book is a must for anyone who has ever experienced summer in the city and especially those that hail from the boogie-down Bronx! (That would be me!)

yes no Celebrate by eating or cooking something yummy 9780593563229 Ice Cream Man by Glenda Armand and Kim Freeman, illustrated by Keith Mallet

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Augustus Jackson and how he added unique ingredients to ice cream to make it the treat we know and love today. He was born in 1808, and at age 12, he became a cook in the White House kitchen, serving Presidents Monroe, Quincy Adams, and Jackson. Working in that kitchen, he developed his culinary skills, experimented, and created his signature dish. It’s an excellent story to learn about a little-known figure in Black history. And there is a recipe in the back!

9780593486146 Black-Eyed Peas and Hoghead Cheese by Glenda Armand, illustrated by Steffi Walthall

Frances loves hearing Grandma tell stories, especially when they are in the kitchen. Through her grandma, we learn the origins of certain ingredients and dishes in soul food cooking and some Atlantic slave trade history. Although this book takes place during the New Year’s holiday, the themes of freedom, family history, and food also work for Juneteenth.

9781524720643 Sweet Justice by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Georgia Gilmore is another little-known Black history figure who was vital during the civil rights movement, and I find her story fascinating. She wasn’t an orator and didn’t make huge gestures in the fight for civil rights. Her work was quiet, behind the scenes, and equally important. She used her gift for cooking and hosting to feed people. She made famous fried chicken, collard greens, and sweet potato pies. During the Montgomery bus boycotts, she used the money she made to pay for people’s rides to work or donated to the cause.

yes no Celebrate by learning about Black history 9781623543822 I Heard: An American Journey by Jaha Nailah Avery, illustrated by Steffi Walthall

In a word, this book is stunning. It’s not easy to pair rhyming text with Black history facts, but this book does it beautifully. Introduce your kids to the rich history, strength, and bravery of Black people in America from the shores of Africa through enslavement and the civil rights movement to today. Steffi Walthall’s illustrations, mixed with hovering hand drawings in black-and-white sketches bleeding into full-color murals of key Black history moments, are powerful. A perfect gift for Juneteenth.

9781536222524 Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens, illustrated by Monica Mikai

Based on Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens’ song of the same title, this beautifully illustrated picture book follows a Black family from enslavement to freedom. The family faces many challenges as free people trying to build a home of their own, but they refuse to give up despite everything. A celebration of music, the power of words, and the enduring love of family that belongs on every young reader’s shelf.

RELATED: Books and Activities for Teaching Kids Black History and Culture

9780425288948 This Is the Rope by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome

After emancipation, a large group of formerly enslaved people left the South and moved north in search of better opportunities. From approximately 1910–1970, millions of people, including my grandparents, made this move. Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of a little girl who finds a rope under a tree and how it gets passed down through three generations.

9780593307359 The 1619 Project: Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah Jones and Renee Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith

This book became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller and tells the story of an American child who receives a family tree project in school. But unlike her classmates, she can only trace her lineage back three generations. The phrase “born on the water” describes people who lost their origins due to the slave trade. Told in verse, this book describes the joyful time in Africa and how those born on the water persevered and survived the horrible years of enslavement. It is a wonderful book to remind children that Black history did not start with slavery.

9780593407417 Rebel Girls of Black History: A Sticker-by-Number Book by Rebel Girls

Learn about women in Black history, color with stickers, and create beautiful picture keepsakes. This sticker-by-number book packs a punch and is an excellent boredom buster to take on long summer road trips to see family around Juneteenth.

The post Must-Read Children’s Books To Celebrate Juneteenth appeared first on Brightly.

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