Juneteenth is recognized each year on June 19 to celebrate the freedom of African Americans from slavery in the U.S. Its name comes from the words “June” and “nineteenth” and it’s the oldest nationally celebrated holiday recognizing the end of slavery in the U.S. — our real Independence Day.
On June 19 in 1865, U.S. Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and slavery was abolished, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It isn’t typically a part of the history lesson in school, so as we honor this joyous day of freedom, here’s a look at 5 kids books about Juneteenth to get your little one acclimated…
1. Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston WeatherfordSource:Instagram
Cassandra and her family have moved to her parents’ hometown in Texas, but it doesn’t feel like home to Cassandra until she experiences Juneteenth, a Texas tradition celebrating the end of slavery.
2. Juneteenth for Maizie by Floyd CooperSource:Instagram
Little Mazie wants the freedom to stay up late, but her father explains what freedom really means in the story of Juneteenth, and how her ancestors celebrated their true freedom.
3. All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela JohnsonSource:Instagram
In 1865, members of a family start their day as slaves, working in a Texas cotton field, and end it celebrating their freedom on what came to be known as Juneteenth.
4. Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye DuncanSource:Instagram
The true story of Black activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone celebrates Black joy and inspires children to see their dreams blossom. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that many Americans had never heard of the holiday that represents the nation’s creed of “freedom for all.”
5. Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie WesleySource:Instagram
Finding power in lessons from the pastJuneteenth — the day Texan slaves found out they had been freed, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — is June’s favorite holiday. This year, though, her cousin Lillie will be there for the Juneteenth picnic. That could spoil everything. Lillie is used to celebrating the Fourth of July, like everyone else, and has no interest in Southern traditions. But Aunt Marshall, the girls’ great-great-aunt, knows the significance of Juneteenth — she was about June’s age on June 19th, 1865, when the celebration began in Texas — and she just may be able to convince Lillie that Juneteenth is not a dumb old slave holiday, but a part of her heritage, and the first of many of freedom’s gifts.