June 19th is here and brings with it the celebration of Emancipation Day or Liberation Day. Better known as “Juneteenth,” this date commemorates the day in 1865 when Union Army Major General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, proclaming fredom from slavery and the end of the Civil War.
Even though slavery had been abolished two years earlier, Texas was one of the states to refuse to free its citizens.
Although June 19 has just been declared a federal holiday, it has been an “informal” celebration since 1866, and the entire country celebrates it with meals, parties, friends and family gatherings.
Why is it important to teach our children about Juneteenth?
Knowing that history tends to repeat itself in cycles, it is critical to teach our new generations about the past, and to make them sensitive and objective individuals when it comes to seeing the social dynamics going on around them.
Juneteenth, for example, is an occasion to bring the discussion of race and diversity to the table, and what better way to do that than through a good book?
These three children’s books explain in depth the meaning behind Juneteenth, and they do so in an interactive, simple, and didactic way so that the youngest members of the household enter the exciting world of history in a fun way.
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
All Different Now is a book that tells the story of Juneteenth through the eyes of a little girl. It recalls the day a general announced on a balcony that from then on, all slaves would be free. It is a fairly short book and beautifully illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Available on Amazon.
Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story by Valerie Wesley
In this book, two girls, June and Lillie, learn all about Juneteenth. The story is told by June, on Juneteenth, when her cousin Lillie comes to visit from New York. They understand the true meaning of the word ‘freedom’ for African American people as the family prepares for the celebrations. With illustrations by Sharon Wilson, this is a perfect book to read with your children. Available on Amazon.
The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure by Steven Otfinoski
This is an interactive book that has several journeys/endings. It tells us the story of Juneteenth, and it also allows us to participate and change the story. It is perfect for curious children because it makes them take part in the story, and ask all they want. It is a very educational book that talks about the struggles of our ancestors after freedom. Available on Amazon.