Juneteenth—explaining it to your kids

Juneteenth is an American Celebration (a combination of the words June and Nineteenth).  Until recently, I’d wager to say that it hasn’t been very well-known to many, other than African Americans. Juneteenth (also known as Emancipation Day) is oldest established celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday originated on June 19, 1865, when the union troops arrived in Galveston Texas, bringing the news of the official end of the Civil War, this was actually two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (official date of January 1, 1863). The delay in spreading this news of freedom was likely intentional and a representation of the attitude toward slaves in the south, thus an attempt to stop the spread of the good news. 

June 18, 1865

“The celebration was a time for mutual reassurance, praying and gathering with surviving family members to celebrate the coming freedom.” Taken from the official Juneteenth Website .

Over the years, the celebration has evolved into that similar to the July 4th Independence Day celebration, with outdoor activities such as barbecuing, but never losing focus on the central meaning of the celebration and what it means to the African American Community, through self-reflection, understanding the truths of the past and the realities of the present.

For our children, we should strive to teach them the significance and importance of this day.

Below are several good books for young readers on the subject. There are also good read-along videos available on YouTube!


All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

By Angela Johnson

Freedom’s Gifts

By Valerie Wesley

Juneteenth for Mazie

By Floyd Cooper


Come Juneteenth

By Ann Rinaldi


By Rachel Koestler-Grack

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

By Charles Taylor

Let’s Celebrate Emancipation Day & Juneteenth

By Barbara deRubertis

The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure

By Steven Otfinoski

YouTube Read-A-Longs:

Juneteenth by Bullfrog Books

Juneteenth For Maize

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