What is Juneteeth, and why is it so important in the African-American community? Are there books you should read for Juneteenth? For those who may not know, June 19, 1865, is the day that the slaves became free. Some may say to this day that we’re not really free but more free-ish due to the systemic racism that happens almost every day, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I recently shared with you what it means to be black.
June 19 (Juneteenth) is observed in almost every state except for Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota. It’s the blacks Independence Day and a day that should be celebrated. This year we are celebrating even more so due to the Black Lives Matter movement that has been pushed to the forefront these past weeks. It has opened up the eyes of many, and while a few changes have been made, we still have a long way to go.
There’s a saying:
In order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you come from.
I’ve been trying to learn more about the African-American culture and heritage because although I’m black, I’m Caribbean of British Descent. However, I have children who are Black Americans, and it’s my duty to teach them as much as I know. That’s why I’m on a mission to change the education system and have more black literary classics introduced in the classroom. I also incorporate books that celebrate black children so that my children can see heroes and heroine characters that represent themselves. And I have been doing that for many years.
I introduced Black History Month to my kids as soon as they could understand, and not only celebrate Black History Month during February but all year long. Because I’m not just black in February, but every day of the year.
There are many changes to be made, but while we’re waiting for these changes, here are a few books you should read for Juneteenth. And if you’re interested in Juneteenth books for kids, Madison has a few recommendations as well.
Harriet Tubman was born a slave and dreamed of being free. She was willing to risk everything—including her own life—to see that dream come true. After her daring escape, Harriet became a conductor on the secret Underground Railroad, helping others make the dangerous journey to freedom.
This award-winning introduction to the late abolitionist, also includes additional educational back matter such as a timeline, discussion questions, and extension activities.
Juneteenth 101 – Popular Myths and Forgotten Facts by D.J. Norman-Cox
Juneteenth (a.k.a.: “Emancipation Day,” “Freedom Day,” “America’s second Independence Day,” etc.) is spreading in popularity, exponentially. Tagging along is a wealth of legends, misinterpretations, and blatant untruths explaining the holiday’s origin. This book offers verifiable arguments that contradict the most popular Juneteenth inaccuracies. News about the Emancipation Proclamation was not late reaching Texas. The number of soldiers reported to be in Galveston on June 19, 1865, includes only the White soldiers. When Black soldiers are counted, the number nearly triples. Juneteenth is not the oldest continuous celebration of emancipation in the United States. Texas was not the first state to officially recognize emancipation. Information in this book was culled primarily from mid-nineteenth century newspapers and military records. Solely for purposes of humor, some of the meticulously researched findings are translated into barbershop jabber and kitchen talk. Hence: The format of this book may be harmful to the intellectually pompous and/or culturally delicate.
Juneteenth: A Novel by Ralph Ellison
“Tell me what happened while there’s still time,” demands the dying Senator Adam Sunraider to the itinerate Negro preacher whom he calls Daddy Hickman. As a young man, Sunraider was Bliss, an orphan taken in by Hickman and raised to be a preacher like himself. Bliss’s history encompasses the joys of young southern boyhood, bucolic days as a filmmaker, lovemaking in a field in the Oklahoma sun. And behind it all lies a mystery: how did this chosen child become the man who would deny everything to achieve his goals? Brilliantly crafted, moving, wise, Juneteenth is the work of an American master.
The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History) by Steven Otfinoski
The Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War have brought an official end to slavery, yet some Southern slave owners are refusing to comply. The road to freedom is still long and hard for many African Americans, but you’re not giving up. Will you: Overcome obstacles as you make your way north from Texas, looking to begin a new life of freedom? Seek out your family, from whom you were separated as a child, after emancipation? Fight back when you take work as an apprentice but find that you’re still treated as a slave? YOU CHOOSE offers multiple perspectives on history, supporting Common Core reading standards, and providing readers a front-row seat to the past.
Come Juneteenth (Great Episodes) by Ann Rinaldi
Sis Goose is a beloved member of Luli’s family, even though she was born a slave. But the family is harboring a terrible secret. And when Union soldiers arrive on their Texas plantation to announce that slaves have been declared free for nearly two years, Sis Goose is horrified to learn that the people she called family have lied to her for so long. She runs away–but her newly found freedom has tragic consequences.
How could the state of Texas keep the news of the Emancipation Proclamation from reaching slaves? In this riveting Great Episodes historical drama, Ann Rinaldi sheds light on the events that led to the creation of Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom that continues today.
Let’s Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth (Holidays & Heroes) by Barbara deRubertis
In the 1800s, abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth fought for freedom from slavery for all African Americans. They fought with speeches, songs, newspapers, and even with daring rescue missions! Every year on both Emancipation Day and Juneteenth, we honor and continue their fight for freedom and equality.
Holidays & Heroes brings to life the people whose holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Enriched with colorful historical images, books in this series will engage children in the stories behind our holidays and the people they honor.
Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation by Ira Berlin
In 1998, The New Press published Remembering Slavery, a book-and-tape set that offered a startling first-person history of slavery. Using excerpts from the thousands of interviews conducted with ex-slaves in the 1930s by researchers working with the Federal Writers’ Project, the astonishing audiotapes made available the only known recordings of people who actually experienced enslavement—recordings that had gathered dust in the Library of Congress until they were rendered audible for the first time specifically for this set.
This list of books is by no means extensive, and I plan on updating it as I add more books to my Juneteenth collection and reading library. As you may have realized, I don’t write about books or recommend books until I’ve read them or own them. So keep on checking to see what we add to our list.
And if you’re looking for similar books, check out our list of books you should read for Black History Month. You can purchase this list of books including Madison’s on my Amazon Storefront where I”ve curated them for you.
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