Juneteenth is the newest federal holiday. It was signed into law on June 19, 2021. Juneteenth is a national holiday celebrating June 19, 1865—the day a Union general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to tell the enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and that they were free. Today we’re sharing a children’s book list that features a few titles that your family might enjoy reading as you celebrate and learn about Juneteenth.

Picture Books

Juneteenth: A Picture Book for Kids Celebrating Black Joy

By Van G. Garrett
Picture Book

An African American family attends a modern-day Juneteenth parade in Galveston, Texas (the birthplace of the holiday). Text includes lines from “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Build a House

By Rhiannon Giddens
Picture Book

Build a House was originally written as a song to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. It tells the story of a people who would not be moved and the music that sustained them. Steeped in sorrow and joy, resilience and resolve, turmoil and transcendence, this book offers a proud view of history and a vital message for readers of all ages: honor your heritage, express your truth, and let your voice soar, even-or perhaps especially-when your heart is heaviest.

Juneteenth for Mazie

By Floyd Cooper
Picture Book

Little Mazie wants the freedom to stay up late, but her father explains what freedom really means in the story of Juneteenth, and how her ancestors celebrated their true freedom.

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

By Angela Johnson
Picture Book

In 1865, members of a family start their day as slaves, working in a Texas cotton field, and end it celebrating their freedom on what came to be known as Juneteenth.

Intermediate Book

Juneteenth : Our Day of Freedom

By Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Intermediate Book

Learn more about Juneteenth, a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States in this Step 3 History Reader.

Junior Nonfiction

What is Juneteenth?

By Kirsti Jewel
Junior Nonfiction 

On June 19, 1865, a group of enslaved men, women, and children in Texas gathered around a Union soldier and listened as he read the most remarkable words they would ever hear. They were no longer enslaved: they were free. The inhumane practice of forced labor with no pay was now illegal in all of the United States. This news was cause for celebration, so the group of people jumped in excitement, danced, and wept tears of joy. They did not know it at the time, but their joyous celebration of freedom would become a holiday–Juneteenth–that is observed each year by more and more Americans.

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

By Alliah L. Agostini
Junior Nonfiction 

What is Juneteenth? Juneteenth marks the day enslaved people in Texas finally learned they were free … a secret that was kept for 900 days! Today this national holiday is celebrated on June 19 to mark when enslaved Black people finally gained legal freedom. Join author Alliah L. Agostini as she and her grandparents help readers explore the events leading up to the first Juneteenth, and the circumstances that helped this once exclusively-Texan holiday become an American celebration.

Free at Last : A Juneteenth Poem

By Sojourner Kincaid-Rolle
Junior Nonfiction 

Deeply emotional, 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.

Opal Lee and What it Means to be Free: The True Story of the Grandmother of Juneteenth

By Alice Faye Duncan
Junior Nonfiction 

The true story of Black activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone will inspire children to be brave and make a difference. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that most Americans had never heard of the holiday that represents the nation’s creed of “freedom for all.”


By Lisa A. Crayton
Junior Nonfiction 

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. Across the country, people observe the day with speeches, poetry readings, festivals, picnics, street fairs, and family reunions. It is a day for people to come together and continue working toward equality. Readers will discover how a shared holiday can have multiple traditions and be celebrated in all sorts of ways.

Post updated June 19, 2023

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