Celebrate Juneteenth With These 3 Fantastic Children’s Books

This week’s edition of Three to Read brings you some illuminating and engaging children’s books about Juneteenth. Read on for our recommendations!

Recommendations Three To Read Young Readers
Jayylen's Juneteenth Surprise cover by Lavaille Lavette, Let’s Celebrate Juneteenth cover by Tonya Abari, and A Flag for Juneteenth cover by Kim Taylor in front of a beach landscape.

This week’s Three to Read highlights children’s books that will educate your little ones on Juneteenth. Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, is a holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. Despite Juneteenth being recognized as a federal holiday in 2021, many Americans still remain uneducated about what the day commemorates and why it should be celebrated. If you’re interested in teaching your children the importance of Juneteenth, these books are fantastic educational tools for a wide span of developmental stages.


Jayylen’s Juneteenth Surprise by Lavaille Lavette, Illustrated by David Wilkerson

Jayylen's Juneteenth Surprise cover by Lavaille Lavette, a young boy holding spoons and singing joyfully.


Jayylen learns about the traditions of Juneteenth when his grandfather, Paw Paw Jimmy, begins to prepare for the celebration. When Paw Paw Jimmy and Jayylen’s mother explain the importance of the holiday to him, he is eager to participate. Thus, Jayylen begins practicing playing a special instrument for the celebration. But can he pull off the even bigger surprise he has up his sleeve?


Little Golden Books are a timeless and classic choice when it comes to children’s stories. This edition not only tells the story of an exciting Juneteenth celebration, but it also educates young readers on why the celebration takes place. It also adds in special touches of culture, such as the types of instruments Paw Paw Jimmy and Jayylen play. For kids who have no knowledge of Juneteenth, this book is a fun, simple introduction!


Let’s Celebrate Juneteenth by Tonya Abari, Illustrated by Tabitha Brown

Let's Celebrate Juneteenth cover by Tonya Abari, four children smiling and throwing their hands up in excitement.


Learn about the federal holiday of Juneteenth with Let’s Celebrate Juneteenth! While there are no central characters in this story, this book shows different ways that Juneteenth can be celebrated. By depicting different displays of celebration, this book teaches young readers that freedom is something to be grateful for.


This book is for the very youngest readers, babies and toddlers, and thus, it places more emphasis on bright and colorful illustrations. It introduces readers to the topic of freedom and emancipation without making its content too complex or difficult to digest. The small 7″ x 7” size of Let’s Celebrate Juneteenth is great for packing meaningful entertainment on the go!


A Flag for Juneteenth by Kim Taylor

A Flag for Juneteenth cover by Kim Taylor, a patchwork image of a woman and a colorful flag.


This story begins the day before the message was delivered that enslaved people were freed in 1865. It follows a community of enslaved African Americans on a plantation in Texas, in particular, a girl named Young Hulah, who is preparing to celebrate her tenth birthday as she wakes up to the announcement of her emancipation. Together, Young Hulah and her community create a flag to celebrate their freedom as they process the news of the first Juneteenth.


This is the most complex story out of the three, making it a phenomenal book for children who are old enough to already know about the holiday and want a deeper understanding of what it was like to be a young person experiencing the very first Juneteenth celebration. Although the story is fiction, it opens readers up to the idea of what the first people who celebrated Juneteenth might have felt and what they might have done to commemorate their freedom.

That’s it for this week’s Three to Read! Tune in next week for more curated recommendations.

Click here to read last week’s Three to Read about YA novels from trans authors!

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