Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. Their entry came two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end of slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.
On June 17, 2021, Juneteeth officially became a federal holiday. Therefore, it is a relatively new implementation into a preschool classroom curriculum. One of the most common ways for children to learn about this day is through books.
Books for preschool children to learn about Juneteenth
The Story of Juneteenth: An Interactive History Adventure by Steven Otfinoski
Sophie and Lelah Celebrate Juneteenth by L. Monique Gonzales
Juneteenth Jamboree by Carole Boston Weatherford
Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson
Juneteenth (On My Own Holidays) by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & Drew Nelson
Other ways to commemorate Juneteenth in your classroom
1. Invite a speaker from your community
If you cannot source a speaker, you may consider inviting a local choir to come and share traditional music of the civil rights movement that helped black communities during their darkest times.
2. Organize an anti-racism event.
In current times, we are still witnessing disparities in access to quality education, employment, housing, and healthcare. Work with your colleagues and children to organize a parade that celebrates differences!
3. Plan a field trip.
Many community locations will host plays that engage children in the stories that led to freedom. Get out of your classroom and explore what’s happening in your community!