Slavery in the United States didn’t actually end after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — two and a half years later — that enslaved African Americans in Texas finally learned that the Civil War had ended. Since then, June 19 has been celebrated annually by African Americans to commemorate the end of slavery, a holiday known as Juneteenth.
But most Americans never learn about this important event in school. And a 2016 study from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture found that less than 10% of class time goes to African American history.
Want your kids to learn more about Black history outside of the classroom — and get them reading? Start with these books on the history of Juneteenth:
Juneteenth for Mazie
By Floyd Cooper
A young girl named Mazie remembers her ancestors and learns some lessons along the way. Ages 6-9.
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom
By Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
This story, seen through the eyes of a young girl, tells the tale of the very first Juneteenth. It includes a timeline and glossary of important terms. Ages 5-9.
Juneteenth: On My Own Holidays
By Drew Nelson and Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by Mark Schroder
This informative book honors the first Juneteenth and the freedom it brought to so many people. Ages 7-10.
Freedom Day: A Juneteenth Activity Book for Kids
By Ama Karikari Yawson
Kids will learn the history of the holiday through coloring pages, vocabulary words, essay questions and other fun activities in this interactive paperback. Ages 7 and up.
Hidden Black History: From Juneteenth to Redlining
By Amanda Jackson Green
Kids can learn more about Black history in a larger context, and how the ripple effects of the Civil War ending continued well into the next century — even to this day. Ages 9-11.
By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Yvonne Buchanan
A young girl moves to Texas and learns about her ancestors’ history — and what makes June 19 such an important day. Ages 6-10.
By Ann Rinaldi
This historical drama about a runaway slave sheds light on the events leading up to Juneteenth. Ages 12-17.