Every year on June 19, we celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the US. This day is an important way to honor the history and celebrate the work of Black Americans—as well as recognize the importance of continuing to fight for justice and equity. The books below are age-appropriate resources by Black authors and illustrators that will empower kids to be agents of change and create a more just and equitable world.
Every day is different. Some days everything goes right—you're in the groove and feeling like yourself. But some days, it's a lot harder to find happy because everything that should be fun just feels . . . flat. In Looking for Happy, a young boy is having one of those dreary days, and nothing seems to help. But after trying his grandmother's way to shake the blues also fails, he discovers that happiness is easiest to find when you're not looking. This picture book gently reminds readers that it's normal to have happy and sad days and normalizes speaking about emotions and seeking help.
Age: Early grades (5–8 years)
Publication date: May 2, 2023
Sarah starts her day like any other day: she eats her toast and feeds her bugs. But today isn't a day like any other day. Today, her dad brings her to a protest to speak out against police violence against Black people. When Sarah spots a beautiful monarch butterfly and follows it through the crowd, she finds herself inside the no-man's land between the line of police and protesters. In the moments that follow, Sarah is confronted with the cruelty of those who are supposed to protect her and learns what it feels like to protect and be protected.
Inspired by the protests that happened during the Minneapolis Uprising after the police killing of George Floyd, Sarah Rising provides a child's-eye view of a protest and offers an opportunity for children to talk about why people take to the streets to protest racial injustice. Readers will gain a new appreciation for how important it is to be part of a community of people who protect each other.
Continue the conversation about racism and police violence with the Sarah Rising educator's guide, including practical ways kids can get involved in activism.
Age: Early Grades (5–8 years)
Publication date: May 24, 2022
In God's Holy Darkness, Sharei Green and Beckah Selnick deconstruct anti-Blackness in Christian theology by celebrating instances in the story of God's people when darkness, blackness, and night are beautiful, good, and holy. From the darkness at the beginning of creation to the blackness of the sky on the day when Christ's birth was announced to the shepherds, children learn that blackness is something to celebrate as an important element of the life of faith. Perfect for reading and anti-racist reflection in worship, as an affirmation and celebration with children, and at home with caregivers, God's Holy Darkness is a gift to cherish.
Age: Early Grades (5–8 years)
Publication date: July 12, 2022
In the late 1930s when segregation was legal and Black Americans couldn't visit every establishment or travel everywhere they wanted to safely, a New Yorker named Victor Hugo Green decided to do something about it. Green wrote and published a guide that listed places where his fellow Black Americans could be safe in New York City. Soon customers started asking Green to make a guide to help them travel and vacation safely across the nation too. With the help of his mail carrier co-workers and the African American business community, Green's guide allowed millions of African Americans to travel safely and enjoy traveling across the nation.
Download the free Opening the Road educator's guide for kids to continue learning about Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book!
Age range: Preschool (3–5 years); Early Grades (5–8 years)
Publication date: January 26, 2021
Black girls are shaping the future.
Young Black leaders have always been at the forefront of the fight for justice, freedom, and equity. And Black girls today are stepping up and leading in bold, creative ways. From Khristi Lauren Adams, author of the celebrated Parable of the Brown Girl, comes Black Girls Unbossed, which introduces readers to young Black women leading the way and changing the world.
Eight young Black women are profiled, including the founder of a child literacy nonprofit, political activists, and a school shooting survivor who launched a political action committee to prevent gun violence. These are the young Black women we will be reading about and studying decades from now. Like the young women who came before them, Black girls today are saying "enough is enough" and building a better world.
Continue the conversation with the Black Girls Unbossed discussion guide—perfect for book clubs, church groups, or individual study.
Also available is Unbossed, a companion read for adults. Unbossed is published and sold by our sister imprint, Broadleaf Books.
Age range: Middle Grades (9–13 years)
Publication date: March 22, 2022
Searching for Juneteenth reads for adults? Click here to explore recommendations from our sister imprint, Broadleaf Books.