Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resilience and Freedom

While many people in the United States celebrate Independence Day on July 4, there is another date that's viewed as Independence Day. That's the holiday known as Juneteenth. Almost two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, news arrived in Galveston, Texas that all slaves were to be set free. The official date, June 19, 1865, became known as Freedom/Independence Day and later, Juneteenth. Although Juneteenth is not an official federal holiday, it's celebrated throughout the country with parades, family reunions, rodeos, picnics and rich African American traditions.  

Here are five children’s books that help young people learn more about slavery, the traditions of Juneteenth and celebrate the resilience, beauty and triumphs of black people.

The Undefeated: Award-winners Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson team up to give us this stunning, award-winning book that pays homage to the perseverance and strength of black people. Well-known singers, activists and musicians are honored, and countless unsung heroes, freedom fighters and future dreamers are revered.  

Freedom Over Me: Author Ashley Bryan paints an imaginative picture of slaves’ daily lives and dreams in this unique informational book. Stories are created from actual historical accounts of an 1828 document listing a U.S. slave owner’s property, including his 11 slaves. 

Before She Was Harriet: Younger and older readers alike will enjoy this book because of the beautiful watercolor illustrations and poetic verses of the different stages of Harriet Tubman’s life. An inspiration and reminder that everyone is born with great potential dwelling inside of them.

Come Juneteenth: In this excellent historical fiction book, we meet 14-year-old Luli, whose life and family will be deeply impacted by the announcement of June 19, 1865. The different characters' point of views presented will surely spark dialogue and debate among older youth. 

Let's Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth: Fans of informational books will appreciate the photos, illustrations, and information that explains the origins of the Juneteenth celebration and how it is celebrated across the country.

Does your family celebrate Juneteenth? If so, tell us about your celebration!