Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Drew Nelson
Illustrator:  Mark Schroder 
For ages 4 to 6
Lerner, 2006   ISBN: 978-0822559740

On January 1st, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the southern states of America but because of the war and so many other factors the news about the Emancipation Proclamation spread slowly and for some slaves in rural areas it took months or ever years before the news reached them. So it was not until June 19th, 1865 that slaves in Galveston, Texas heard that they were slaves no longer.

Of course many of the Texas slave owners already knew the news but they hadn?t told their slaves because they needed the slaves on their plantations to stay put to keep the plantations going. So the slaves heard about their emancipation by word of mouth from Union soldiers and from other slaves. The slaves in Texas were the last to hear the news and on June 19th they celebrated their new found freedom.

One year later, on June 19th, 1866, the former slaves came together to remember that first day of freedom and to celebrate. Over the years people began to call the new holiday Juneteenth and today it is celebrated with family gatherings, picnics, parades, baseball games, races, dances, speeches, prayers, and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation.

This excellent title from the On My Own Holidays series will give young readers a very clear picture of what this holiday is about. Not only do the authors describe the historic events of June19th, 1865, but they also provide the reader with the necessary historical context so that he or she can understand the importance of this event.