Celebrate Freedom & Learn About Our History

This Juneteenth reading list includes recommendations from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with some additions from our librarians. The books included cover a variety of reading levels.

Updated May 18, 2023
Drag items up and down to your preferred order then select the "Save Order" button.
On Juneteenth
Gordon-Reed, Annette
Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed's On Juneteenth provides a historian's view of the country's long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have...
African American poetry : 250 years of struggle & song
Young, Kevin
A literary landmark- the biggest, most ambitious anthology of Black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present Across a turbulent history, from such vital centers as Harlem, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, Black...
Watermelon & red birds : a cookbook for Juneteenth and black celebrations
Taylor, Nicole A.
The very first cookbook to celebrate Juneteenth, from food writer and cookbook author Nicole A. Taylor--who draws on her decade of experiences observing the holiday. On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Major...
Opal Lee and what it means to be free : the true story of the grandmother of Juneteenth
Duncan, Alice Faye
Booklist starred review Black activist Opal Lee had a vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone. This true story celebrates Black joy and inspires children to see their dreams blossom. Growing up in Texas, Opal knew...
Jubilee : recipes from two centuries of African American cooking
Tipton-Martin, Toni
"A celebration of African American cuisine right now, in all of its abundance and variety."-Tejal Rao, The New York Times JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER . IACP AWARD WINNER . IACP BOOK OF THE YEAR. TONI TIPTON-MARTIN NAMED THE 2021 JULIA CHILD AWARD RECIPIENT ...
Four hundred souls : a community history of African America, 1619-2019
Kendi, Ibram X.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A chorus of extraordinary voices tells the epic story of the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present--edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on...
The warmth of other suns : the epic story of America's great migration
Wilkerson, Isabel.
How the word is passed : a reckoning with the history of slavery across America
Smith, Clint
This "important and timely" (Drew Faust, Harvard Magazine) #1 New York Times bestseller examines the legacy of slavery in America--and how both history and memory continue to shape our everyday lives. Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint...
All different now : Juneteenth, the first day of freedom
Johnson, Angela
Experience the joy of Juneteenth in this celebration of freedom from the award-winning team of Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis. Through the eyes of one little girl, All Different Now tells the story of the first Juneteenth, the day freedom finally came to the last of the...
A black women's history of the United States
Berry, Daina Ramey
The award-winning Revisioning American History series continues with this "groundbreaking new history of Black women in the United States" (Ibram X. Kendi)--the perfect companion to An Indigenous People's History of the United States and An African American and Latinx History of the...
Free at last : a Juneteenth poem
Kincaid-Rolle, Sojourner
This lyrical celebration of Juneteenth, deeply rooted in Black American history, spans centuries and reverberates loudly and proudly today. After 300 years of forced bondage; hands bound, descendants of Africa picked up their...
Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave
Douglass, Frederick
Frederick Douglass's dramatic autobiographical account of his early life as a slave in America. Born into a life of bondage, Frederick Douglass secretly taught himself to read and write. It was a crime punishable by death, but it resulted in one of the most eloquent indictments...
Stony the road : reconstruction, white supremacy, and the rise of Jim Crow
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.
"Stony the Road presents a bracing alternative to Trump-era white nationalism. . . . In our current politics we recognize African-American history--the spot under our country's rug where the terrorism and injustices of white supremacy are habitually swept. Stony the Road lifts the...
We were eight years in power : an American tragedy
Coates, Ta-Nehisi
In this "urgently relevant"* collection featuring the landmark essay "The Case for Reparations," the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me "reflects on race, Barack Obama's presidency and its jarring aftermath"*--including the election of Donald...
Conjure Women A Novel
Atakora, Afia.
A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing--and for the conjuring of curses--are at the heart of this dazzling first novel   WINNER OF THE SOCIETY OF AMERICAN HISTORIANS PRIZE * NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times * NPR *...
Libertie : a novel
Greenidge, Kaitlyn
The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2021 The New York Times Book Review Best Historical Fiction of 2021 Washington Post Best Books of 2021: 50 Notable Works of Fiction TIME 100 Must-Read Books of 2021 ...
Freedom over me : eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life
Bryan, Ashley
Newbery Honor Book Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a person with...
The underground railroad : a novel
Whitehead, Colson
From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but...
Harriet Tubman : conductor on the Underground Railroad
Petry, Ann
This quintessential middle grade biography of Harriet Tubman now features a cover by NAACP Image Award winner and Caldecott Honor illustrator Kadir Nelson, a foreword by National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds, and additional new material. A selection of the Schomburg Center's Black...
Juneteenth for Mazie
Cooper, Floyd
Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty and freedom on Juneteenth, a great day in American history, the day her ancestors were no longer slaves.
Discovering Black America : from the age of exploration to the twenty-first century
Tarrant-Reid, Linda.
From the first African explorers to the first black president, this illustrated history is an excellent resource and "an epic work" (School Library Journal).Discovering Black America is an unprecedented account of more than 400 years of African American history set...
Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you
Reynolds, Jason
This crucial, empowering, #1 New York Times bestselling exploration of racism--and antiracism--in America makes critical ideas accessible for teen readers, adapted from Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning. This is...
A child's introduction to African American history : the experiences, people, and events that shaped our country
Asim, Jabari
A comprehensive, entertaining look at heroes, heroines, and critical moments from African American history -- from the slave trade to the Black Lives Matter movement -- by award-winning author Jabari Asim. Jabari Asim goes beyond what's taught in the classroom to reveal a fact...
The ABCs of Black history
Cortez, Rio
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER B is for Beautiful, Brave, and Bright! And for a Book that takes a Bold journey through the alphabet of Black history and culture. Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and...
Ruth and the Green Book
Ramsey, Calvin A.
Ruth and the Green Book
Our children can soar : a celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the pioneers of change
Cook, Michelle.
Rosa sat so Martin could march. Martin marched so Barack could run. Barack ran so Our children can soar. This is the seed of a unique and inspirational picture book text, that is part historical, part poetry, and entirely inspirational. It symbolically takes...
Our skin : a first conversation about race
Madison, Megan
Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way. Developed...
Get up, stand up
Marley, Cedella
The third picture book adaptation of one of Bob Marley's beloved songs that has a timely message for children: To counter injustice, lift others up with kindness and courage. A heartfelt and meaningful book that brings Bob Marley's music to life in a new way: As a young...
Brown girl dreaming
Woodson, Jacqueline.
A New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of Red at the Bone, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.   Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt...

Library staff! You can create and contribute to lists. Contact your catalog administrator or log in here.