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Diverse Books For All Ages

Books That Celebrate Every Story, Every Voice, Every Child

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth (+Video)

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Opal Lee Juneteenth Childrens Book Cover Alice Faye Duncan

Title: Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth

Publisher: Thomas Nelsom

Recommended Grades: PK-3

Where to order: BOOKSHOP

Published: January 11, 2022


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.

Opal Lee "The Grandmother of Juneteenth " is adorned in a beautiful purple headwrap and a purple and gold top. Her hand lays across her chest and is adorned with a beautiful ring. She is wearing glasses.

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.

(Author) Alice Faye Duncan a National Board Certified Teach

er, who writes for young learners. Memory is her motivation. She writes to help children remember important moments from African American history. Her books are celebrated for vivid imagery and lyrical texts that sound like music. Alice's most popular titles include A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks; Just Like a Mama; Honey Baby Sugar Child; and Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, which received a 2019 Coretta Scott King Honor Medal. Alice lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where at a young age, her mother nurtured her writing talent with prayer, poetry books, and praise. Find her HERE

(Illustrator) Keturah A. Bobo Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio with family roots in Detroit, MI, Keturah was home-schooled from an early age by her mother who encouraged her passion for art at the early age of two. She decided to become a full-time artist after graduating from Columbus College of Art and Design in 2006. Keturah has always been inspired by her community and especially the beauty of natural hair. Her work uplifts and shines light on those who are far too often underrepresented. Find her HERE


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