Books to Commemorate and Understand Juneteenth

Books to Commemorate and Understand Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865, and more generally, the emancipation of African Americans throughout the United States. These books available at our libraries and on our e-book and audiobook apps, Libby and Hoopla, explore the origins and history of slavery in the United States, as well as the official end of slavery on Juneteenth.

Books for Children

Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

Celebrating Holidays: Juneteenth by Rachel Grack

On June 19, 1865 two years after the Emancipation Proclamation Galveston, Texas became the last place in the country to learn the slaves were free. Today, Juneteenth is an occasion with parades, speeches, music, and more! This engaging book teaches the fascinating origins and traditions of Juneteenth, honoring the freedom of African Americans.

Juneteenth: a Day to Celebrate Freedom From Slavery by Angela Leeper

Author Angela Leeper explains the history of slavery from the first arrival in Jamestown in 1619 to the end of the Civil War, and describes Juneteenth celebrations held today all across the country. Full-color photographs and a craft section help the reader understand more about Juneteenth, and why all Americans should celebrate freedom.

Explores the origins of Juneteenth, early celebrations, and how the holiday is celebrated today.

Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford

Author Carole Boston Weatherford and artist Yvonne Buchanan bring the African American emancipation celebration of Juneteenth to life for children, through the eyes of Cassandra, who has just moved to Texas. 

The Story Behind Juneteenth by Jack Reader (Available on Hoopla Digital.)

In this book, readers are given an in-depth look at the history of Juneteenth, including the events leading up to its creation. Readers will love learning about how this important moment in U.S. history is celebrated each year.

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson

Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis. Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the slaves in the South.

Books for Adults

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the nation’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson gives us a portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate.

1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country. Perhaps you need some persuading. The issue contains essays on different aspects of contemporary American life, from mass incarceration to rush-hour traffic, that have their roots in slavery and its aftermath. Each essay takes up a modern phenomenon, familiar to all, and reveals its history. The first, by the staff writer Nikole HannahJones (from whose mind this project sprang), provides the intellectual framework for the project and can be read as an introduction.

Available in select MCPL reference sections. For immediate electronic access, download pdf version from the Pulitzer Center https://pulitzercenter.org/sites/default/files/full_issue_of_the_1619_project.pdf
PDF version https://pulitzercenter.org/sites/default/files/full_issue_of_the_1619_project.pdf
The 1619 Project curriculum website https://pulitzercenter.org/lesson-plan-grouping/1619-project-curriculum

Four Hundred Souls: a Community History of African America, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Last year marked the four hundredth anniversary of the first African presence in the Americas–and also launched the Four Hundred Souls project, spearheaded by Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Antiracism Institute of American University, and Keisha Blain, editor of The North Star. They’ve gathered together eighty black writers from all disciplines — historians and artists, journalists and novelists–each of whom has contributed an entry about one five-year period to create a dynamic multivoiced single-volume history of black people in America”

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society — and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future. The Deep is inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future.”