10 Children’s Books That Celebrate Juneteenth
On June 19, 1865—two years after the Emancipation Proclamation—Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African-Americans that they were free and that the Civil War had ended. Since then, communities across the country have celebrated Juneteenth (which is derived from June and 19), with parades, speeches, music and more, as an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in America.
While the holiday has been celebrated every year since the late 1800s, in the past few years there’s been a resurgence around the day as more people speak out against systematic racism in America. In 2021, President Biden officially made Juneteenth a federal holiday. To celebrate this year, take the day to reflect on the past and learn about the history of Juneteenth and racial injustice in America. Then, make a plan on ways you can help to create equality for all.
One big way to help? Raising good, kind humans who spot injustice and stand up for equality. These books about Juneteenth, all available at Black-owned bookstores, are a great way to kick off the conversations with your little ones.
The Story of Juneteenth by Dorena Williamson, Markia Jenai (Illustrator)
This board book introduces toddlers and preschoolers to the events of June 19, 1865 in an age-appropriate and engaging way. Using colorful illustrations, the book helps teach little ones how those events connect to modern day Juneteenth celebrations.
Age range: 2-5
Buy it: $8, Mahogany Books
The Juneteenth Story by Alliah L. Agostini, Sawyer Cloud (Illustrator)
In her picture book, Agostini details an illustrated history of Juneteenth and its evolution, starting from the first celebration in 1865 all the way to 2021, when it was made a federal holiday. The book teaches about why it took so long for enslaved people in Galveston, Texas to get the news and how Juneteenth has grown over the years.
Age range: 6-9
Buy it: $22, African Bookstore
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson, E.B. Lewis (Illustrator)
Told through the eyes of a little girl in free-verse poetry, the book tells the story of the first Juneteenth. The picture book also includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of important dates, and a glossary of relevant terms.
Age range: 5 to 9 years old
Buy it: $17, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
Cooper tells the story of a young girl named Mazie, as she talks to her father about the meaning of Juneteenth. Together, they remember the struggles and the triumphs of their ancestors and get ready to celebrate freedom.
Age range: 6 to 9 years old
Buy it: $16, Mahogany Books
Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford, Yvonne Buchanan (Illustrator)
Written with powerful text and illustrations, the book tells the story of a young girl named Cassandra and her family, who have just moved to Texas. Together they celebrate Juneteenth for the first time, with lots of delicious food, friends and fun.
Age range: 6 to 9 years old
Buy it: $14, BuyBlackAuthors.com
Juneteenth by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson, Mark Schroder (Illustrator)
The book paints a picture of what life was like on June 19, 1865 in Texas. The story presents easy-to-digest information for young readers and teaches about the history and importance of the holiday.
Age range: 6 to 12 years old
Buy it: $7, Loving Me Books
Juneteenth by Rachel Grack
This engaging book teaches children the origins and traditions of Juneteenth, all while honoring the freedom of Black Americans. It includes photo labels, glossary of terms and vocabulary and maps to show where Juneteenth began and is celebrated most. Plus, it also offers activity pages full of crafts and recipes to help you celebrate.
Age range: 4-8
Buy it: $8, Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books
Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan, Keturah A. Bobo (Illustrator)
Duncan and Bobo tell the true story of Opal Lee, a Black activist commonly referred to as “the grandmother of Juneteenth,” who has spent her life working to spread awareness about the holiday and its significance. The book inspires kids to follow their dreams and teaches the power of bravery and speaking up for change, all while celebrating Black joy.
Age range: 4-8
Buy it: $16, Loving Me Books
Juneteenth: A Children’s Story Special Edition by Opal Lee, Peter Viska (Illustrator)
Lee, 95, the activist who serves as the protagonist for Duncan’s book, came out with this book in March 2022. It teaches children about the history of slavery in an age-appropriate manner, with words they can understand. It also celebrates the important milestone of Juneteenth finally being recognized as a national holiday.
Age range: 5-8
Buy it: $21, Semicolon Bookstore
Juneteenth by Anece Rochell, Audeva Joseph (Illustrator)
Juneteenth is part of Rochell’s Beautiful Me series, which teaches young children messages of self-love, kindness and inclusivity. The book follows Daylen, a young boy who’s excited to share his knowledge of the holiday. It teaches little ones the origins, customs and importance of June 19.
Age range: 4-7
Buy it: $13, Kizzy’s Books & More