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Freedom Day: Celebrating Juneteenth

The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States

The Emancipation Proclamation — that all enslaved people in Confederate states be freed — was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, but it took two and a half years for the news of freedom to reach everywhere. Juneteenth (June 19th) commemorates the day that federal troops finally arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the enslaved people there. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021, and families across the country celebrate “Freedom Day” with community gatherings, parades, freedom walks, festivals — and sharing books together. To learn more:

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

By: Angela Johnson
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
Genre: Poetry, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This story, written in free-verse poetry, begins with one Texas family learning about their freedom, leaving the sweltering cotton fields, and going to celebrate with a whole community on a cool beach at night. Beautiful watercolor illustrations and extra historical information at the end.

Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem

Free at Last: A Juneteenth Poem

By: Sojourner Kincaid Rolle
Illustrated by: Alex Bostic
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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.

Juneteenth for Mazie

Juneteenth for Mazie

By: Floyd Cooper
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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.

Juneteenth Jamboree

Juneteenth Jamboree

By: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by: Yvonne Buchanan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Cassie has moved from the big city back to her family’s Texas hometown. 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. She is introduced to Juneteenth traditions and while making red velvet cake and witnessing the joy of the locals downtown, learning Juneteenth’s history helps her to realize that she is, indeed, home.

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

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

By: Alice Faye Duncan
Illustrated by: Ketura A. Bobo
Genre: Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Black 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.”

The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers

The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers

By: Arlisha Norwood
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

On June 19, 1865, a Union soldier traveled to Texas to tell the enslaved people who lived there that they were free — that slavery was now illegal in every state. The people danced and sang in celebration of their freedom. Today, we pay tribute to this historical day with a special holiday on June 19 called Juneteenth. This colorfully illustrated story takes kids on an exciting journey through all the events that led up to the first Juneteenth, the day itself, and the impact it had on the future of the U.S.

The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States

The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States

By: Alliah Agostini
Illustrated by: Sawyer Cloud
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Juneteenth’s story started long before it was celebrated. The history of this now widely recognized celebration is presented in measured, accessible, and informative text and colorful illustrations. An afterword by the author reveals her connection to Junteenth.

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