Great Books to Commemorate Juneteenth

On June 19, 1865 -- two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation announced the abolition of slavery in the United States -- the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, finally learned they were free. Known today as Juneteenth, the anniversary of this announcement is celebrated throughout the United States as a day for commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people and for remembering the atrocities against Black Americans that took place during the period of U.S. slavery. Below you'll find a list of books for kids and teens that feature stories of enslaved people and their experiences, the bravery of abolitionists and freedom fighters, and the joyous celebrations and communities organized by freed Black Americans. Before you light the grill or attend local festivities, recognize the importance of this holiday and what it means for all Americans by reading some of these stories together as a family. But history doesn't stop there, and your family shouldn't, either: Keep exploring Black history with our other book recommendations for young kids, tweens, and teens.

Brick by Brick Poster Image
BOOK

Brick by Brick

age 4+

Inspiring tale of enslaved workers building the White House.

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Henry's Freedom Box Poster Image
BOOK

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad

age 5+

Heartrending, hopeful true story of enslaved boy's escape.

By: Ellen Levine (2008)
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I Am Harriet Tubman: Ordinary People Change the World Poster Image
BOOK

I Am Harriet Tubman: Ordinary People Change the World

age 5+

Courage, doing the right thing are themes in thrilling bio.

By: Brad Meltzer (2018)
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Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History Poster Image
BOOK

Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History

age 5+

Vibrant celebration of heroes in African American history.

By: Schele Williams (2021)
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All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom Poster Image
BOOK

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

age 6+

Poignant imagining of enslaved people learning of freedom.

By: Angela Johnson (2014)
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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan Poster Image
BOOK

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan

age 6+

Document inspires vivid, moving portraits of enslaved lives.

By: Ashley Bryan (2016)
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She Persisted: Harriet Tubman Poster Image
BOOK

She Persisted: Harriet Tubman

age 6+

Humanizing story of a fierce, tender, trailblazing woman.

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Show Way Poster Image
BOOK

Show Way

age 6+

Beautiful story of family's journey from slavery to freedom.

By: Jacqueline Woodson (2006)
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The 1619 Project: Born on the Water Poster Image
BOOK

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water

age 7+

Emotional reframing of U.S. history, slavery, and rebirth.

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Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History Poster Image
BOOK

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History

age 7+

Beautifully illustrated bio of abolition's greatest hero.

By: Walter Dean Myers (2017)
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The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers Cover
BOOK

The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers

age 7+

Powerful account of the holiday's roots and celebrations.

By: Arlisha Norwood (2022)
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Ida B. Wells: Discovering History's Heroes Poster Image
BOOK

Ida B. Wells: Discovering History's Heroes

age 7+

Inspiring biography of courageous civil rights pioneer.

By: Diane Bailey (2019)
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The People Remember Poster Image
BOOK

The People Remember

age 7+

Emotional book ties 500-year history to Kwanzaa principles.

By: Ibi Zoboi (2021)
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My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth Poster Image
BOOK

My Name Is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth

age 8+

Inspirational and informative intro to an American hero.

By: Ann Turner (2015)
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Freewater Poster Image
BOOK

Freewater

age 9+

Siblings escape slavery, find a home in awe-inspiring tale.

By: Amina Luqman-Dawson (2022)
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Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans Poster Image
BOOK

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans

age 9+

Beautifully illustrated account of African American history.

By: Kadir Nelson (2011)
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Elijah of Buxton Poster Image
BOOK

Elijah of Buxton

age 10+

Funny, powerful tale of free Black community in 1859 Canada.

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Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man Poster Image
BOOK

Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man

age 10+

Compelling, fact-filled bio of the abolitionist icon.

By: Tonya Bolden (2018)
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Chains: The Seeds of America Trilogy, Book 1 Poster Image
BOOK

Chains: The Seeds of America Trilogy, Book 1

age 11+

Powerful story of slavery in 1776 New York.

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