Juneteenth is here! I’m so excited to share tips and books for celebrating Juneteenth with you! Can you believe that Juneteenth was named a national holiday? A national, federally-recognized holiday! Oh my gosh! When I saw this information for the first time, it was a small whisper of news showing across my screen. I actually thought that I was seeing things. Was that really President Biden talking about Juneteenth on the news? It was just declared a national holiday, recognized by the United States government?! What a moment of jubilee! I wanted to share tips and books to celebrate Juneteenth with you and your students so that we can commemorate history together.
Up until this point, Juneteenth was a special, cultural, and community-based day of celebration that was seemingly relegated to the Black community; something special just for us. I won’t even pretend…. I just learned of Juneteenth a few years ago. The first time I heard “Juneteenth” I thought that someone was being playful with their words. What a cute name? How creative! Those were my initial thoughts. But, then… I shortly and sadly learned about a history (of my own people, no less) that I had never even known existed. Historically, on Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., recognized the significance of Juneteenth to the Black community and to American history and signed into law.
Tips for Recognizing and Celebrating Juneteenth
- Study the history of the holiday.
- You want to be sure that you know the facts and details surrounding the events of Juneteenth.
- They are unbelievable and mind-blowing, but they happened. One of the greatest gifts that we can offer students is the truth. You can use the most appropriate kid-friendly approach, but facts and truth are key.
- You can visit the official Juneteenth website to learn more!
- Know that your students can handle the truth.
- Even more importantly, they deserve the truth.
- Knowing your country’s history is beautiful- the good and the bad! It’s what happened. It is who we are, or were, as a nation at one point in history. We don’t have to remain the same and we don’t have to repeat our mistakes.
- These are facts that can help make students be, not only aware, but able to be empathetic and compassionate.
- You, as their support, facilitator and guide, can also help shape Change Makers that see the beauty in humanity and want to make a difference in their community, state, country, and world.
- Be honest
- Again, tell your students the truth.
- You can be factual without adding any judgment to the conversation (if you choose).
- Leave room for questions and wonders.
- Allow your students to feel what they feel and express it.
- Students may need time to process the information. This is perfectly natural and okay.
- Provide a safe space for sharing thoughts, questions, and feelings.
- Recognize that the discussion may not be as “heavy” as you think.
- Share the information.
- Allow space for processing.
- Celebrate the beauty of the recognition, the culture, and the resilience of the Black American peoples!
- Celebrate with arts and crafts, poetry, journaling, and/or books.
Books to Celebrate Juneteenth
To continue sharing tips and books to celebrate Juneteenth, I’m sharing a list of books that I think will be helpful, informative, and enjoyable for brining Jubilation Day to light in your classroom or home. Please note that for this post, I am not providing my usual recommendations. I am sharing books that you may find helpful and enjoy. Many of these books are hot off of the presses, and I have not had the opportunity to read them all. I hope that you find the right-fit book for you and your students/children.
Of course, be sure to read the books yourself before sharing them with younger students. This gives you the opportunity to gauge the information (intensity, areas that you may need to study more in case questions are asked, and check for your own emotional responses) prior to reading aloud. These books are informational in nature.
Grade Range: Preschool-Kindergarten
Written in a very kid-friendly manner. Does show illustrations of the enslaved Africans in shackles and chains- accurate.
Grade range: 2nd-4th
This text uses the term “slave” and not “enslaved”.
It also provides a “start date” for slavery which may be misleading and unsettling. Slavery dates back to the days of the Bible and has been occurring for African people for hundreds (thousands) of years .
Chapter Books for Juneteenth
Grade range: 3rd-7th
Uses the term “enslaved people”. I love that delineation from “slaves” so much! It identifies their state of being due to no cause of their own.
Includes informational text along with beautiful black and white illustrations.
Chapter book format.
Grade range: 2nd-3rd
This books provides factual details about, not only Juneteenth, but the historic events that led up to it .
Uses the term “enslaved people” instead of “slaves”. I love this!
This story is told from the perspective of Sarah Ashley, an enslaved young girl.
It features a timeline of events in history. There are also reflective questions for students to ponder or answer. I loved the format.
Longer Picture Books for Juneteenth
Grade range: Preschool-3rd Grade
This story is about Ms. Opal Lee’s journey and commitment to having Juneteenth be deemed a national holiday. She walked miles to gain attention, awareness, and signatures for her movement. I remember seeing her on the news, or one of the morning talk shows, several years ago. She was precious and so inspiring. How beautiful that her journey has been turned into a book to acknowledge, thank, and remember her!
Grade range: 1st-4th
Grade range: Kindergarten-4th
This book has the softest, most soothing, and beautiful watercolor illustrations.
One of the things that struck me about the text was the illustrations. I kept thinking of how the depiction of the clothing didn’t seem quite… right. The clothes were too nice, too clean, too lovely in some way. Then, it hit me. The clothes and representation gave a sense of pride and dignity to the African people. In spite of their experience, they were still proud, full of hope, and draped with dignity.
I hope that you found these tips and books for celebrating Juneteenth helpful! I am so excited for this day of jubilee!
Share any books or crafts that you think I would love with me in the comments.
Disclosure: The links that I shared in this post are my Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase one of the books via my link, I will receive compensation from it. This does not increase the purchase price of any of the items for you. Thank you so much for using my affiliate links!