In honor of Juneteenth – now set to be a statewide holiday – the New York Public Library has released a Black Liberation Reading List for young readers.
The list comes from the NYPL’s 95-year-old Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and includes 65 books geared toward teaching children and teens about black experience, history and current events.
“It is so important to remember, honor and celebrate Juneteenth, such an important moment in the history of our nation, and one that continues to have a tremendous impact on today’s events,” says Schomburg Center director Kevin Young in a press release. The June 19 holiday, one of the oldest in America, marks the freeing of the last U.S. slaves – in Galveston, Texas – on June 19, 1865.
“Without honest contemplation and discussions, there is progress,” Young continues, adding that if everyone takes the time to better understand the black experience, “real change can happen.”
The list includes the board books “A Is for Activist” and “Antiracist Baby,” as well as Jacqueline Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming” and “The Day You Begin.”
The Library has made “as many e-copies as possible of titles,” available to browse and borrow for free through the Library’s. digital collections.
The Schomburg Shop’s manager, Rio Cortez, began compiling the list following the killing of George Floyd.
“Many of our patrons connect with the Schomburg Shop specifically for books by black and brown authors whose work enables black and brown children to see themselves in complete and dynamic ways,” says Cortez.
Last week, the Schomburg Center released a Black Liberation Reading List for adults. In eight days, that list has already received 7,000 checkouts, the library says.
On Juneteenth and throughout the following week, several of the listed books will be read by authors, politicians and librarians on the library’s social channels. The full virtual programming roster will be shared on NYPL’s site.