10+ Children's Books About Juneteenth

Juneteenth will be here in a couple of weeks!  What is Juneteenth?  Juneteenth is an important day in American history and for Black Americans across the country.  On June 19, 1865... two years, five months, and 18 days after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued... slaves in Galveston, Texas finally learned they were free.  Since then, Juneteenth... named for June + 19th... has been celebrated with festivals, cookouts, picnics, family reunions, fireworks, church gatherings, etc.  There is no one way to celebrate Juneteenth.  Anywhere people gather together to commemorate Juneteenth is a celebration.

Listed below are 10+ fiction and nonfiction children's books about Juneteenth, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Opal Lee... the Grandmother of Juneteenth.  Keep reading to learn about these books.  If you know of a children's book that should be added to the list, tell me in the comments below.  If it's a good fit for this list, I'll add it for you!

Compilation of 10+ children's books about Juneteenth, Jubilee, Civil Rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation. Fiction and nonfiction. 1st-5th grade.

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

1. All Different Now by Angela Johnson

Author's Summary: 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.

🍎 Title: All Different Now
🍎 Author: Angela Johnson
🍎 Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
🍎 Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
🍎 Date: May 6, 2014
🍎 Pages: 40

All Different Now by Angela Johnson

2. Juneteenth for Maizie by Floyd Cooper

Author's Summary: 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.

🍎 Title: Juneteenth for Maizie
🍎 Author: Floyd Cooper
🍎 Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
🍎 Publisher: Picture Window Books
🍎 Date: January 1, 2015
🍎 Pages: 40

Juneteenth for Maizie by Floyd Cooper

3. Juneteenth by Drew Nelson Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Author's Summary: June 19th, 1865 began as another hot day in Texas. Enslaved African Americans worked in fields, in barns, and in the homes of the white people who owned them. Then a message arrived. Freedom! Slavery had ended! The Civil War had actually ended in April. It took two months (possible typo?)  for word to reach Texas. Still, the joy of that amazing day has never been forgotten. Every year, people all over the United States come together on June 19th to celebrate the end of slavery. Join in the celebration of Juneteenth, a day to remember and honor freedom for all people.

🍎 Title: Juneteenth
🍎 Author: Drew Nelson
🍎 Illustrator: Mark Schroder
🍎 Publisher: Millbrook Press
🍎 Date: July 1, 2020
🍎 Pages: 26

Juneteenth by Drew Nelson

4. Juneteenth Jamboree by Carol Boston Weatherford

Author's Summary: Joining her parents in a community celebration of Juneteenth, Cassie learns about the day when slaves in Texas were freed some two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and wonders why the news took so long to reach them.

🍎 Title: Juneteenth Jamboree
🍎 Author: Carol Boston Weatherford
🍎 Illustrator: Yvonne Buchanan
🍎 Publisher: Lee and Low Books
🍎 Date: August 1, 2007
🍎 Pages: 32

Juneteenth Jamboree by Carol Boston Weatherford

5. The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive Adventure by Steven Otfinoski

Author's Summary: The Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War have brought an official end to slavery, yet some Southern slave owners are refusing to comply. The road to freedom is still long and hard for many African Americans, but you’re not giving up. Will you: Overcome obstacles as you make your way north from Texas, looking to begin a new life of freedom? Seek out your family, from whom you were separated as a child, after emancipation? Fight back when you take work as an apprentice but find that you’re still treated as a slave? YOU CHOOSE offers multiple perspectives on history, supporting Common Core reading standards and providing readers a front-row seat to the past.

🍎 Author: Steven Otfinoski
🍎 Illustrator: Steven Otfinoski
🍎 Publisher: Capstone Press
🍎 Date: February 1, 2015
🍎 Pages: 112

The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive Adventure by Steven Otfinoski

6. Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan

Author's Summary: 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."

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! Opal Lee spent the rest of her life speaking up for equality and unity. She became a teacher, a charity worker, and a community leader. At the age of 89, she walked from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, D.C., in an effort to gain national recognition for Juneteenth.

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 every difficulty

🍎 Author: Alice Faye Duncan
🍎 Illustrator: Keturah A. Bobo
🍎 Publisher: Thomas Nelson
🍎 Date: January 18, 2022
🍎 Pages: 32

Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth by Alice Faye Duncan

7. Juneteenth: A Children's Story by Opal Lee

Author's Summary: An engaging way to introduce the history of slavery and freedom to children in words they can understand. Ms. Opal highlights the celebration of Juneteenth and the importance of commemorating this milestone all across America.

🍎 Author: Opal Lee
🍎 Illustrator: Peter Viska
🍎 Publisher: United Unlimited
🍎 Date: April 24, 2021
🍎 Pages: 34

Juneteenth: A Children's Story by Opal Lee

8. Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons

Author's Summary: Just in time for the 120th anniversary of the song Lift Every Voice and Sing--this stirring book celebrates the Black National Anthem and how it inspired five generations of a family.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.

In Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song Lift Every Voice and Sing so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln's birthday in 1900. From that moment on, the song has provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Mothers and fathers passed it on to their children who sang it to their children and grandchildren. It has been sung during major moments of the Civil Rights Movement and at family gatherings and college graduations.

Inspired by this song's enduring significance, Kelly Starling Lyons and Keith Mallett tell a story about the generations of families who gained hope and strength from the song's inspiring words.

🍎 Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
🍎 Illustrator: Keith Mallett
🍎 Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books
🍎 Date: August 6, 2019
🍎 Pages: 32

Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons

9. Melena's Jubilee: The Story of a Fresh Start by Zetta Elliott

Author's Summary: After being sent to bed early the previous night, Melena wakes up to a new day with a song in her heart.

Forgive and be forgiven. It sounds so appealing―why doesn’t it happen every day? Finding herself forgiven on a rain-scrubbed morning after a difficult day, Melena seizes her fresh start and shares the song in her heart with her family and friends. It’s a day of new beginnings. It’s Melena’s jubilee.

This story introduces children to the concept of jubilee, which stresses the important principles of debt relief, generosity, and forgiveness. Aaron Boyd’s mixed-media illustrations are as bright and vivid as a sun-washed day.

I write predominantly about Black children because I grew up believing I was invisible in the real world, and it hurt just as much to discover that I was also invisible in the realm of the imaginary. I write the books I wish I had had as a child.―Zetta Elliott

🍎 Title: Melena's Jubilee: The Story of a Fresh Start
🍎 Author: Zetta Elliott
🍎 Illustrator: Aaron Boyd
🍎 Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
🍎 Date: May 18, 2021
🍎 Pages: 32

Melena's Jubilee: The Story of a Fresh Start by Zetta Elliott

10. Mumbet's Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle

Author's Summary: Everybody knows about the Founding Fathers and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. But the founders weren't the only ones who believed that everyone had a right to freedom. Mumbet, a Massachusetts enslaved person, believed it too. She longed to be free, but how? Would anyone help her in her fight for freedom? Could she win against her owner, the richest man in town?  Mumbet was determined to try.

Mumbet's Declaration of Independence tells her story for the first time in a picture book biography, and her brave actions set a milestone on the road toward ending slavery in the United States.

🍎 Author: Gretchen Woelfle
🍎 Illustrator: Alix Delinois
🍎 Publisher: CarolRhoda Books
🍎 Date: February 1, 2014
🍎 Pages: 32

Mumbet's Declaration of Independence by Gretchen Woelfle

11. Hope's Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons

Author's Summary: A poignant story celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

It’s 1862 and the Civil War has turned out to be a long, deadly conflict. Hope’s father can’t stand the waiting a minute longer and decides to join the Union army to fight for freedom. He slips away one tearful night, leaving Hope, who knows she may never see her father again, with only a conch shell for comfort. Its sound, Papa says, echoes the promised song of freedom. It’s a long wait for freedom and on the nights when the cannons roar, Papa seems farther away than ever. But then Lincoln finally does it: on January 1, 1863, he issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves, and a joyful Hope finally spies the outline of a familiar man standing on the horizon.

Affectingly written and gorgeously illustrated, Hope’s Gift captures a significant moment in American history with deep emotion and a lot of charm.

🍎 Title: Hope's Gift
🍎 Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
🍎 Illustrator: Don Tate
🍎 Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
🍎 Date: February 18, 2013
🍎 Pages: 32

Hope's Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons

Are there other books you think should be added to this list? What other children's books about Juneteenth, Jubilee, Civil Rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation do teachers and parents need to know about? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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