Juneteenth is only two weeks away and Black Americans are gearing up for the celebration. It is the perfect opportunity to teach kids the importance of this holiday and why it is important to their future and American history. Penguin Young Readers features three titles that tell the importance of this holiday and dive into conversations about race, resistance, resilience, and victory over racism.
Three books have been made to teach middle-grade kids about the existence of Juneteenth. First is What is Juneteenth? It teaches kids awareness of America’s complicated and dark history of slavery and racial injustice. Justice Rising showcases twelve important women who were pivotal in the Civil Rights Movement and were forgotten in history books. Last, is Can We Please Give The Police Department Our Grandmothers?, a bold new radical and positive future of a safe and healthy community free from the dangers of police brutality. Here are the official descriptions below:
What is Juneteenth? By Kirsti Jewel; illustrated by Manuel Gutierrez: Discover more about Juneteenth, the important holiday that celebrates the end of chattel slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, a group of enslaved men, women, and children in Texas gathered around a Union soldier and listened as he read the most remarkable words they would ever hear. They were no longer enslaved: they were free. The inhumane practice of forced labor with no pay was now illegal in all of the United States. This news was cause for celebration, so the group of people jumped in excitement, danced, and wept tears of joy. They did not know it at the time, but their joyous celebration of freedom would become a holiday–Juneteenth–that is observed each year by more and more Americans. Author Kirsti Jewel shares stories from Juneteenth celebrations, both past and present, and chronicles the history that led to the creation of this joyous day. With 80 black-and-white illustrations and an engaging 16-page photo insert, readers will be excited to read this latest addition to Who HQ!
Justice Rising by Katheryn Russell-Brown; illustrated by Kim Holt: A celebration of twelve Black women who were pivotal to the civil rights movement and the fight for justice and equal rights in America. You’ve heard the names Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, but what about the many other women who were crucial to the civil rights movement? Told through twelve short biographies, this book celebrates just some of the many Black women–each of whom has been largely underrepresented until now–who were instrumental to the nation’s fight for civil rights and the contributions they made in driving the Movement forward. An empowering, eye-opening look at how one person can impact greater change, this book is both a conversation starter and much-needed history lesson for our modern world.
Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers? By Junauda Petrus; illustrated by Kristen Uroda: Based on the viral poem by Coretta Scott King honoree Junauda Petrus, this picture book debut imagines a radically positive future where police aren’t in charge of public safety and community well-being. Petrus first published and performed this poem after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. With every subsequent police shooting, it has taken on new urgency, culminating in the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, blocks from Junauda’s home. In its picture book incarnation, Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers? is a joyously radical vision of community-based safety and mutual aid. It is optimistic, provocative, and ultimately centered in fierce love. Debut picture book artist Kristen Uroda has turned Junauda’s vision for a city without precincts into a vibrant and flourishing urban landscape filled with wise and loving grandmothers of all sorts.