HelpingKidsRise Childrens Books Diverse.png

Diverse Books For All Ages

A great selection of books for families, educators, and the community

  • Helping Kids Rise

Children's Books for Celebrating and Teaching About Juneteenth + Video


Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links



African Americans have celebrated Juneteenth for a long time, but the holiday recently gained notoriety after becoming an official national holiday.


Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery. It's celebrated on June 19th each year. On June 19, 1865, enslaved people in Texas were finally informed that the Civil War was over and they were now free. This was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. Read The White House Official Proclamation of the 2022 Juneteenth Holiday


The books featured here all weave together stories of the resilience, love, and strength of a people - Black people. Read these books to celebrate the lasting legacy of Black people in America. Happy reading!




With colorful illustrations and a timeline, this introductory history of Juneteenth for kids details the evolution of the holiday commemorating the date the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom​.


On June 19, 1865--more than two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation--the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom. That day became a day of remembrance and celebration that changed and grew from year to year.


Learn about the events that led to emancipation and why it took so long for the enslaved people in Texas to hear the news. The first Juneteenth began as "Jubilee Day," where families celebrated and learned of their new rights as citizens. As Black Texans moved to other parts of the country, they brought their traditions along with them, and Juneteenth continued to grow and develop.


Today, Juneteenth's powerful spirit has endured through the centuries to become an official holiday in the United States in 2021. The Juneteenth Story provides an accessible introduction for kids to learn about this important American holiday.

Purchase: Bookshop



Activist Opal Lee had a vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone. This true story 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. Join Opal on her historic journey to recognize and celebrate freedom for all.


Every year, Opal looked forward to the Juneteenth picnic--a drumming, dancing, delicious party. She knew from Granddaddy Zak's stories that Juneteenth celebrated the day the freedom news of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation finally sailed into Texas in 1865--over two years after the president had declared it! But Opal didn't always see freedom in her Texas town. Then one Juneteenth day when Opal was twelve years old, an angry crowd burned down her brand-new home. This wasn't freedom at all. She had to do something! But could one person's voice make a difference? Could Opal bring about national recognition of Juneteenth? Follow Opal Lee as she fights to improve the future by honoring the past.

Through the story of Opal Lee's determination and persistence, children ages 4 to 8 will learn:

  • all people are created equal

  • the power of bravery and using your voice for change

  • the history of Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, and what it means today

  • no one is free unless everyone is free

  • fighting for a dream is worth the difficulty experienced along the way

Featuring the illustrations of New York Times bestselling illustrator Keturah A. Bobo (I am Enough), Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan celebrates the life and legacy of a modern-day Black leader while sharing a message of hope, unity, joy, and strength.


Purchase: Bookshop




The 1619 Project's lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.


A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders.

But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.


And the people planted dreams and hope,

willed themselves to keep

living, living.


And the people learned new words

for love

for friend

for family


for joy

for grow

for home.


With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.


Purchase: Bookshop




This lyrical celebration of Juneteenth, deeply rooted in Black American history, spans centuries and reverberates loudly and proudly today.


After 300 years of forced bondage;

hands bound, descendants of Africa

picked up their souls--all that they owned--

leaving shackles where they fell on the ground,

headed for the nearest resting place to be found.


Deeply emotional, evocative free verse by poet and activist Sojourner Kincaid Rolle traces the solemnity and celebration of Juneteenth from its 1865 origins in Galveston, Texas to contemporary observances all over the United States. This is an ode to the strength of Black Americans and a call to remember and honor a holiday whose importance reverberates far beyond the borders of Texas.


Purchase: Bookshop




Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a person with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.


Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as...a lantern.


This gentle yet deeply powerful way goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that can't be bought or sold: dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his "workers," the author has created collages around that document, and others like it.


Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry, he imagines and interprets each person's life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about--their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an overseer or madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you've seen.


Purchase: Bookshop





A proud, empowering introduction to African American history that celebrates and honors enslaved ancestors


Your story begins in Africa.

Your African ancestors defied the odds and survived 400 years of slavery in America and passed down an extraordinary legacy to you.


Beginning in Africa before 1619, Your Legacy presents an unprecedentedly accessible, empowering, and proud introduction to African American history for children. While your ancestors' freedom was taken from them, their spirit was not; this book celebrates their accomplishments, acknowledges their sacrifices, and defines how they are remembered--and how their stories should be taught.

Purchase: Bookshop





Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history. The day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.


Purchase: Bookshop




Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis.


Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South. 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.


Told in Angela Johnson's signature melodic style and brought to life by E.B. Lewis's striking paintings, All Different Now is a joyous portrait of the dawn breaking on the darkest time in our nation's history.

Purchase: Bookshop




Discover more about Juneteenth, the important holiday that celebrates the end of chattel slavery in the United States.


On June 19, 1865, a group of enslaved men, women, and children in Texas gathered around a Union solder and listened as he read the most remarkable words they would ever hear. They were no longer enslaved: they were free. The inhumane practice of forced labor with no pay was now illegal in all of the United States. This news was cause for celebration, so the group of people jumped in excitement, danced, and wept tears of joy. They did not know it at the time, but their joyous celebration of freedom would become a holiday--Juneteenth--that is observed each year by more and more Americans.


Author Kirsti Jewel shares stories from Juneteenth celebrations, both past and present, and chronicles the history that led to the creation of this joyous day.


With 80 black-and-white illustrations and an engaging 16-page photo insert, readers will be excited to read this latest addition to Who HQ!

Purchase: Bookshop





Discover more about Juneteenth, the important holiday that celebrates the end of chattel slavery in the United States.


On June 19, 1865, a group of enslaved men, women, and children in Texas gathered around a Union solder and listened as he read the most remarkable words they would ever hear. They were no longer enslaved: they were free. The inhumane practice of forced labor with no pay was now illegal in all of the United States. This news was cause for celebration, so the group of people jumped in excitement, danced, and wept tears of joy. They did not know it at the time, but their joyous celebration of freedom would become a holiday--Juneteenth--that is observed each year by more and more Americans.


Author Kirsti Jewel shares stories from Juneteenth celebrations, both past and present, and chronicles the history that led to the creation of this joyous day.


With 80 black-and-white illustrations and an engaging 16-page photo insert, readers will be excited to read this latest addition to Who HQ!

Purchase: Bookshop



Your turn! Which books would you add to this list? Let us know.




FIND THESE BOOKS AND MORE IN OUR BOOKSHOP






VIDEO READ ALONG

Acclaimed Broadway director Schele Williams discusses “Your Legacy” - A proud, empowering introduction to African American history that celebrates and honors enslaved ancestors.




 

Looking for more great books?

Join our community of almost 30,000 BOOK LOVERS on Instagram.


Tap the phone below to follow and discover great books.