Juneteenth is a crucial day in American history and one that has gained renewed recognition and interest in recent years. This holiday commemorates the day the last group of slaves in the South heard about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and were freed. This was on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the proclamation was enacted on January 1, 1863. While not an official national holiday, Juneteenth has been celebrated in some form since the Reconstruction era. However, the story of this day is not taught in most American schools, leaving many people in the dark about this historic event. Learn more about this holiday by reading these five Juneteenth-themed books.
Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison
The follow-up novel to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Juneteenth is truly a masterpiece. It touches on the political and social realities of a time in America after slavery has ended, but true freedom is still just a concept. This unfinished work is just a small portion of the several thousand-page manuscript Ellison worked on for 40 years prior to his death. A modern classic, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in American culture and the Black experience.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
This newly released nonfiction work tells the story of Juneteenth and its significance to American history. On Juneteenth also ties in personal recollections from Annette Gordon-Reed, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Texas native, and descendant of enslaved people. The book is an essential historical account that all should read, reminding us of the ever-present fight for equality that continues to this day.
Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi
Ann Rinaldi is one of the most well-known young adult historical fiction writers to date, and Come Juneteenth does not disappoint. This novel follows a young protagonist, Sis Goose, who is considered a much-loved member of a white plantation-owning family despite being born a slave. When she learns about the Emancipation Proclamation and how her so-called family kept the truth from her, she runs away. This enthralling novel is an excellent read for people of all ages.
Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom by Charles A. Taylor
While Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom is a children’s book, it presents the historical account in an informative and accessible way for both kids and adults. The book is full of historical documents, archive photographs, and illustrations that make it engaging for readers of all ages. It’s a great tool to teach your kids about the history and joy of Juneteenth, and you may learn a lot from it as well!
The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology
This anthology features four historical romance novellas from authors Lena Hart, Kianna Alexander, Piper Huguley, and Alyssa Cole, plus a foreword by Beverly Jenkins. All of the stories in The Brightest Day centers on the joy and love that is celebrated on this holiday. Each one takes place during a different era in American history, making this interesting collection essential for any Juneteenth reading list.
These are just five of the best Juneteenth books out of the many available online and at your local library or bookstore. This mix of fiction stories and nonfiction accounts will give you a taste of the history, so be sure to add all of these books to your reading list today!
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