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Celebrate Juneteenth with Learning and Fun

Kids of all ages can learn about and participate in this holiday with books, videos, and activities.

Celebrate Juneteenth with Learning and Fun

If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.
—James Baldwin, author and activist

Juneteenth, now marked as a national holiday, is a day of reflection and jubilee for people in the African American community. On June 19, 1865, enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed that they were now free, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The following year those free men and women came together to celebrate the anniversary of their freedom -- creating a tradition that has spread across the United States and been passed down over generations, through celebratory events, food, and storytelling.

Whether your family has been celebrating Juneteenth for years or you learned about it recently, here are some thought-provoking and fun ways to share stories of our perseverance and determination to gain and hold on to freedom.

Remember and learn

Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved Black Americans to the cause of human freedom.
—Jamelle Bouie, journalist


Books are a great way to begin conversations with young children about complicated, sometimes scary topics like slavery and racism.

Henry's Freedom Box

Henry's Freedom Box (5+)
True story of a boy's bravery and his later determination to reunite with his family.

All Different Now book cover

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom (6+)
Beautiful imagining of a young girl and her family as they receive the news of their emancipation.

Born on the Water book cover

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water (7+)
Based on the award-winning New York Times Magazine anthology, this picture book highlights Black resistance, the often untold history of Africa, and the legacy of slavery in a developmentally appropriate and poetic way for younger readers.

The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers

The History of Juneteenth: A History Book for New Readers (7+)
Inspirational, factual chapter book for young readers that explains the history behind the holiday, and how celebrations have changed from its beginning to present day.

Never Caught book cover

Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge (9+)
Ugly truths about the USA's founding are told in this compelling historical tale of a young woman's fight for survival.

Movies and TV

TV shows and movies can offer realistic portrayals of the brutal treatment that enslaved Africans and their descendants endured -- and the dignity they maintained despite it all. Share in these experiences with your older tweens and teens by watching together, and try to make time before, during, or after to talk about some of the intense images and themes presented.

Harriet movie poster

Harriet (12+)
Moving portrayal of a freedom fighter who embodied courage and a gift for envisioning a better future.

Roots movie poster

Roots (14+)
Classic miniseries based on Alex Haley's book follows a family through the generations, from Africa to the Middle Passage, enslavement, and, eventually, freedom.

Miss Juneteenth movie poster

Miss Juneteenth (14+)
The tradition of Juneteenth is explained and celebrated as mother and daughter bond through pageantry and discovering their own beauty -- inside and out.

Underground show image

Underground (15+)
Intense drama shows some of the worst of human behavior -- and the triumph of the human spirit.

Slavery at Monticello app image

Bonus: Slavery at Monticello: Life and Work at Mulberry Row (app; 12+)
Explore the experience of enslaved people who lived and worked at President Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate.

Honor and celebrate

[I]t's an opportunity to both look back but to look ahead to make sure that that notion of freedom, and the fragility of it, is always protected and celebrated.
—Lonnie Bunch, educator and historian

Juneteenth is a celebration to be enjoyed with reverence for all that our ancestors overcame. Here are some activities you can do together as a family to make the holiday special.

Sesame Street Juneteenth song thumbnail

Sing-along for little ones: Sesame Street: Let's Celebrate Juneteenth Song
Young kids will have fun seeing themselves and bopping to this song about cultural pride.

Hey Black Child podcast image

Kid-voiced podcast: Hey Black Child
This episode, titled "The History of Juneteenth," gives kids a bite-size explanation of how the holiday got started and ways to celebrate.

NMAAHC Juneteenth image

Creative curation for teens: Press Play on History: Juneteenth from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Older kids can engage in this self-guided activity by creating a themed playlist of songs that represents their interpretation of the historical experience of African Americans and Juneteenth.

image of young girl making red velvet cupcakes

Find a local festival or parade, have a barbecue, eat something red, attend a prayer service, or support a Black-owned business.

As we gather with our families to commemorate the day, take this time to acknowledge our shared history and look to the future.

Jasmine Hood Miller
Jasmine Hood Miller is the director of community content and engagement. With a background in media and marketing, she joined Common Sense in 2010 and has successfully helped produce dozens of events that share Common Sense's mission and resources with families and educators across the country and raise vital funds to support these efforts. She leads content strategy focused on the unique media and tech concerns of BIPOC families, writing parent advice as well as sharing our impact with our supporters. Jasmine holds a BA in Communications from Temple University, is a former board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), and considers herself an image activist. When she's not trying to find fun ways to keep her three young sons happy and healthy, Jasmine enjoys spending time with family, traveling with her husband, being a plant (and fur) parent, and trying to remember that exercise is a form of self-care.