Juneteenth Books for Children

Juneteenth books for children
Juneteenth has become a major celebration in recent years. Due to the dismissal of multiple communities in American History, its honestly a historical event many don't become aware of until adulthood.

Juneteenth is celebrated every year on June 19th. This is when victims of chattel slavery were finally told they were free, two and half years after the fact. 

This is a day that brings up mixed emotions, controversial opinions and serves as hope for not repeating the terrorist act of enslavement again.

Even though President Abraham Lincoln had issued an executive order, later known as the Emancipation Proclamation, in September of 1862 to be effective January 1, 1863 (the Emancipation Proclamation granted freedom to the slaves in the Confederate States if the States did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863), Texas chose to ignore it.

Therefore, a missive known as General Order 3 was delivered in Galveston, Texas, and read by Major General Gordon Granger of the Union soldiers. Stories have been retold to say women, men, and children were cheering & dancing before the orders reading was completed. On the other end, some were leery of the news because freedom seemed so far-fetched an idea. This day is always describing as one that lifted people's souls.

. . .

As a black woman, wife, mother, and educator that stands for justice I can't ignore all of the policy and law changes that were skipped over when this holiday was granted. I definitely used to feel like this as a bone thrown to my community while ignoring fixing our corrupt judicial system and re-structuring our education system.
It was also bittersweet with this holiday not being able to be enjoyed by everyone in the black community because we have been even more marginalized since the COVID pandemic. Reports have confirmed numerous times that the black and brown communities were the highest demographic of essential workers.
I have to remind myself to remain positive for even the baby steps. I used to struggle with this holiday because it is essentially celebrating that Texas FINALLY telling Africans victim of chattel slavery that they were free. I couldn't move past the 2 year lie. I couldn't move past Texas' audacity and how this audacity has often defined them historically. I've grown to a space where I can acknowledge the validity of my feelings and relish in the immense love and community centering that takes place on Juneteenth. Two things can be true at the same time. I feel this should be discussed & taught, its just sad it needed to occur in the first place.
Some may read this and think I sound a tad negative. My response to this is, this is the black experience, it's not always easy to bypass the continuum of trauma, violence and dismissal for the few times we are seen in America. We learn to cope in our various ways without pushing things to the side or overlooking what requires acknowledgment (and accountability).
As I have grown in my perspective I can't write this blog without mentioning the fight for freedom continues. Juneteenth is acknowledged, but black people are still being killed by people who often walk free. Books that are inclusive and progressive as being banned in schools (the same books many scurried to purchase after George Floyd's murder). So many laws need changing (or uprooting). We still have far to go.
I can only hope this is a first step to introducing American history in schools that doesn't majorly tell one side of the story.


How is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Many communities throw block parties, have spiritual centered events, marches, cook-outs, and it's also a day people are more intentional about supporting black owned businesses. Families are also more intentional about incorporating books about Juneteenth to read together. 
Speaking of books....

Here are some children’s and Middle Grade books to check out and expand your libraries with more American History that acknowledges the black community. 
We have a few of these titles in stock in our Book Nook

Let’s normalize looking into cultural history even beyond the observed calendar date.

Juneteenth book for children and teens
All Different Now is the story of the first Juneteenth, told from the eyes of a little girl. 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.
Opal Lee: The Fight to Be Free  is 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
Juneteenth for Mazie is a beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.
I, Too, Am America includes beautiful paintings from Barack Obama illustrator Bryan Collier accompany and reinvent the celebrated lines of Langston Hughes' poem “I, Too,” creating a breathtaking reminder to all Americans that we are united despite our differences.
The Story of Juneteenth is an interactive YOU CHOOSE book, offering multiple perspectives on history, supporting Common Core reading standards and providing readers a front-row seat to the past.
The Undefeated is a poem hailed as a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.
Jefferson's Sons is told in three parts from the points of view of three of Jefferson's slaves - Beverly, Madison, and a third boy close to the Hemings family - these engaging and poignant voices shed light on what life was like as one of Jefferson's invisible offspring, and how Juneteenth was processed among all of them.
Come Juneteenth focuses on the question: How could the state of Texas keep the news of the Emancipation Proclamation from reaching slaves? In this riveting Great Episodes historical drama, Ann Rinaldi sheds light on the events that led to the creation of Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom that continues today.
The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales is the retelling of 24 American Black folktales that kept American Black culture alive during the days of slavery
Feel free to add to this list in the comments!

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