Books for Teens
Learn the basics about Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, and how the holiday celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Additional features include detailed captions and sidebars, critical-thinking questions, a phonetic glossary, an index, and sources for further research.
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
Under a Painted Sky
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party
It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names. As the boy’s regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians’ fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them. Set against the disquiet of Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson’s extraordinary novel takes place at a time when American Patriots rioted and battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.
The Self Love Revolution: Radical Body Positivity for Girls of Color
It’s time to ditch harmful, outdated beauty standards and build real, lasting body positivity. It’s time for a self-love revolution!
Every day we see movies, magazines, and social media that make us feel like we need to change how we look. This takes a toll on how we think about ourselves—and how we allow others to treat us. And while many teens feel shame about their body, being a teen girl of color can be hard in unique ways. Maybe you feel alienated by the mainstream image of beauty, which is still thin, white and able-bodied. In addition to that, you may also feel pressure from within your community to measure up to a different—but equally unfair—beauty standard. So, how can you start feeling good about yourself when you’re surrounded by these unrealistic—and problematic—ideas about your body?
In The Self-Love Revolution, leading body image expert and creator of #LoseHateNotWeight Virgie Tovar offers an unapologetic guide to help you question popular culture and cultivate radical body positivity. With this groundbreaking book, you’ll identify and challenge mainstream beliefs about beauty; understand the unique tools girls of color have to counter negative body image; and build real, lasting body empowerment. You’ll also learn how to call out diet culture, and discover ways to move beyond your own inner critic and start building the unconditional love for yourself that you deserve.
It’s time to explode society’s beauty standards, stop messing with diets, wear what you want, and recognize that your body is your business. This book will help you find your way to radical body positivity, one step at a time.
Books for Adults
A historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed—herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s—forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.
Between the World and Me
Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son.
Watermelon & Red Birds
All-day cook-outs with artful salads, bounteous dessert spreads, and raised glasses of “red drink” are essential to Juneteenth gatherings. In Watermelon and Red Birds, Nicole puts jubilation on the main stage. As a master storyteller and cook, she bridges the traditional African-American table and 21st-century flavors in stories and recipes. Nicole synthesizes all the places we’ve been, all the people we have come from, all the people we have become, and all the culinary ideas we have embraced.
The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping. Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.
Books for Children
Juneteenth: A Children’s Story
“Written by the grandmother of Juneteenth, opal Lee, this is a great way to break down the history of slavery and how it led to Juneteenth”
Juneteenth For Mazie
See the commemoration of Juneteenth through the eyes of young Mazie as she gets ready for a Juneteenth celebration!
The Juneteenth Story: Celebrating the End of Slavery in the United States
This picture book has colorful illustrations as it shows the first day of true freedom on June 19, 1865, known as “Juneteenth” and shows the impact of that day through history to present day.
Opal Lee and What It Means to Be Free
“Opal Lee is known as the “grandmother of Juneteenth”. She’s done a lot of work to make sure Juneteenth is celebrated and more people are educated about the importance of this holiday. Learn more about her in this fun biography!
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