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
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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...
The Juneteenth story : celebrating the end of slavery in the United States
Agostini, Alliah L.
The Juneteenth Story is an illustrated history of Juneteenth for kids, detailing its evolution from the first celebration in 1865 until it became a national holiday in 2021.
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...
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...
We are each other's harvest : celebrating African American farmers, land, and legacy
Baszile, Natalie
A WALL STREET JOURNAL FAVORITE FOOD BOOK OF THE EAR From the author of Queen Sugar--now a critically acclaimed series on OWN directed by Ava Duvernay--comes a beautiful exploration and celebration of black farming in America.  In this impressive...
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 the history of Juneteenth, but she soon discovered that...
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...
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 ...
The warmth of other suns : the epic story of America's great migration
Wilkerson, Isabel.
NATIONAL BEST SELLER * NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER * NAMED ONE OF TIME'S TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE DECADE AND ONE OF BUZZFEED'S BEST BOOKS OF THE DECADE   "A brilliant and stirring epic . . ....
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...
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...
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, author of How to Be an Antiracist)-the perfect companion to An Indigenous People's History of the United States and An...
A flag for Juneteenth
Taylor, Kim
Expert quilter Kim Taylor shares a unique and powerful story of the celebration of the first Juneteenth, from the perspective of a young girl. On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, General Gordon Granger of the Union Army delivered the message that African Americans in Texas were free....
Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave
Douglass, Frederick
Douglass begins by saying that he does not know his birthday and this bothers him. What a simple statement yet is conveys so much of the laments of an ex slave and the cruelty of the slave system. Douglass was a famous orator who wrote his memoirs as a means of discussing abolition. The writings of...
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...
Stony the road : reconstruction, white supremacy, and the rise of Jim Crow
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.
The abolition of slavery after the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked 'a new birth of freedom' in Lincoln's America, why was it necessary to march in...
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   LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL 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 ...
The underground railroad : a novel
Whitehead, Colson
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * PULITZER PRIZE WINNER * NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER * A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. * Now an original Amazon Prime Video series directed by...
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...
Harriet Tubman : conductor on the Underground Railroad
Petry, Ann
This quintessential middle grade biography of Harriet Tubman, a selection of the Schomburg Center's Black Liberation Reading List. Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad was praised by the New Yorker as "an evocative portrait," and by the Chicago Tribune as "superb...
Juneteenth for Mazie
Cooper, Floyd
Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history. The day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth.
Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you
Reynolds, Jason
In this important and compelling young readers adaptation of his National Book Award-winning title, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, writing with award-winning author Jason Reynolds, chronicles the story of anti-black, racist ideas over the course of American history. Racist ideas in our country...
Discovering Black America : from the age of exploration to the twenty-first century
Tarrant-Reid, Linda.
Discovering Black America offers readers an unprecedented account of more than 400 years of African American history set against a background of American and global events. The book begins with a black sailor aboard the Niña with Christopher Columbus and continues through the colonial period,...
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...
Ruth and the Green Book
Ramsey, Calvin A.
The picture book inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film The Green Book Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family's new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that Black travelers weren't...
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...
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...

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