Juneteenth Reads for All Ages

By NYPL Staff
June 9, 2021

Updated 6/1/2023

Juneteenth (a combination of "June" and "nineteenth") celebrations mark the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas finally learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had declared them free more than two years earlier. Annual celebrations of the occasion—parades, fireworks, cookouts, community gatherings, dances—spread beyond Texas as African Americans migrated across the country and traditions were passed on from family to family and community to community.

The books below, both fiction and nonfiction and for a span of age groups, delve into the Juneteenth holiday directly or take place during the joyous, yet tumultuous time period as slavery officially ended and freed Black people faced new forms of economic, legal, and societal barriers rooted in racism. 

Learn more about how the Library is celebrating Juneteenth with themed events, storytimes, and highlighting historical resources.

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.