The Anti-Racism Story Time Team presents picture book recommendations in honor of Juneteenth. Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day—is a holiday celebrated each year on June 19, to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. It commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that the abolition of slavery was officially announced in Galveston, Texas, and all enslaved persons were freed. Slavery itself had been officially abolished in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation, but it took two more years for it to finally be announced in Texas. Today, all over the United States, Juneteenth continues to be celebrated as an important day in our nation’s history.

In honor of Juneteenth, featured below are picture books that discuss and celebrate the important history behind this day, and the varied experiences of African Americans before and after the abolishment of slavery.

“Juneteenth for Mazie” by Floyd Cooper

Mazie is tired of hearing her parents tell her no to everything. She is ready to celebrate! As she sits with her father and learns more about Juneteenth, she gains much needed perspective about what freedom means and why it is so important. This gentle story, a perfect read for children of any age, describes why recognizing Juneteenth is meaningful for so many families.

“Juneteenth Jamboree” by Carole Boston Weatherford

Cassandra has moved with her parents back to their home state of Texas. She’s never heard of Juneteenth before, but as she experiences this celebration of freedom for the first time, she starts to understand why it’s so special. Readers are sure to love the vibrant and celebratory illustrations in this fun picture book.

“All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom” by Angela Johnson

This book tells the story of the very first Juneteenth, from the perspective of a young girl witnessing that very day in Texas. The authors realistic and detailed storytelling transports audiences into the events of this story and makes them feel like they are right there with the narrator experiencing the excitement of that day.

“Juneteenth” by Emily Dolbear

This nonfiction title introduces children to the history and basics of Juneteenth, and how the holiday is celebrated throughout the United States.

“Juneteenth” by Robin Nelson

This First Step Nonfiction title examines the history of Juneteenth and describes some of the ways in which the holiday is celebrated around the world.

“Juneteenth” by Joanna Ponto

The day all slaves found out they were free, June 19, 1865. At first, it was a holiday just in Texas where it was first announced, but now people celebrate Juneteenth across the United States. Readers learn about the history of the holiday and how it is honored and celebrated today. This book also has a recipe section in the back and shares related craft ideas, such as constructing Juneteenth flag pinwheels.

“Juneteenth” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and Drew Nelson

June 19, 1865, began as just another hot day for enslaved African Americans in Texas, until a message arrived that slavery had ended. Though the Civil War had ended in April of that year, it would take two more months for word to officially reach slaves in Texas, then around the United States. This book shares the joy and excitement of that amazing day and implores all to join in future celebrations.

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