The celebration is coming soon. You can feel it in the air.
Your entire family will gather together for one special day. There will be picnics and tasty foods, dancing, and storytelling. No, it’s not Christmas, your birthday, Easter, or Ramadan. It’s Juneteenth, and these three new books will help you understand why that day is essential….
For the uninitiated, Juneteenth has a lot of traditions! In Jayylen’s Juneteenth Surprise, by Lavaille Lavette, illustrated by David Wilkerson (Little Golden Book, $5.99), a young boy learns how all the pieces fit in his new favorite holiday. The fun begins when Paw Paw Jimmy visits, and he introduces Jayylen to the frottoir, a musical instrument that means there will be dancing. With this book’s cute and simple illustrations and the excitement it conveys, you know it will be a party, and this book is excellent (and inexpensive!) Juneteenth introduction for kids ages 3 to 5.
In David’s house, Juneteenth doesn’t start until Grandma’s ready to tell stories, and in The Night Before Freedom: A Juneteenth Story; by Glenda Armand (Crown Books / Random House Kids, $18.99), the best one is the one that her grandmother told her. Mom Bess was just a little girl when the first Juneteenth arrived, and hearing the story is a ca n’t-miss for David and his family. Five-to-8-year-olds will love this tale, told as a beautiful, fantastical memory. Parents will love the artwork by Corey Barksdale inside the covers.
Find A Flag for Juneteenth by Kim Taylor (Neal Porter Books / Holiday House, $18.99) for your 5-to-8-year-old, and share it with your favorite seamstress. Here, all the illustrations are quilted, crafted, and embroidered, leaving readers with nostalgia to match the tale of almost-ten-year-old Hulda, who wakes up on her birthday morning to hear the best news ever; All slaves are free, and she and her parents are told, and everyone celebrated – everyone, that is, except the plantation owners. And while her neighbors danced, some women sat down and sewed freedom flags that looked like warm, soft quilts. The children found branches for use as flagpoles, and their fathers carved the components with unique designs and symbols. Be sure you read the author’s note at the end of this story; it’s an excellent explanation written for parents who will appreciate knowing about the work that went into this book.
These three tales might not be enough for your family, which is why your favorite librarian or bookseller is waiting for you. They will have something perfect for every age group and everyone in your household who will partake in your Juneteenth picnic or party. They will know what you want to read for yourself or read aloud.
One of the best parts of Juneteenth is the storytelling; these great books will help you do that in a way your child can understand. Make them a new tradition in your house, and add to the celebration.