Books on the Emancipation Proclamation and Process
great for civil war units --or-- to commemorate the anniversary
of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 22nd

Most Americans believe that the Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery that very day. In truth, emancipation was a process. Slaves received their freedom at different times over the centuries of slavery in America. For example, some slaves who fought in the Revolutionary War were granted their freedom once the war was over (almost 100 years before the proclam- ation), while others remained in slavery even after the Emancipation Proclamation, as their masters kept the news of it from them.

The following children's books cover the emancipation process and will hopefully be helpful to you as you plan your slavery/the Civil War units. Note: Interest age increases as you move down the page.

Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation
Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation
by Pat Sherman

Ben's father taught him to read and write, even though it was illegal for slaves. Then one night after being put in jail, he read a smuggled newspaper and discovered Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Based on actual events, the author shows how Ben both improved and hid these skills, and how he used them for his future.

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 1-4    Difficulty Level--age 9-12

More on Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation
Children of the Emancipation
Children of the Emancipation
by Wilma King

A moving and educational photo essay about the lives of young slaves before and after the proclamation. Each page includes one sepia photo and one-two paragraphs of text.

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 3-5     Difficulty Level--age 4-8

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Days of Jubilee : The End of Slavery in the United States
Days of Jubilee:
The End of Slavery in the United States

This book chronicles the process of ending slavery, an event that didn't happen on one particular day.  From the Revolutionary War onward, slaves had their own "days of Jubilee"--their own Emancipation Days. Includes many slave narratives and historic photographs. "Balanced perspective, vivid telling, and well-chosen details give this book an immediacy that many history books lack." (Booklist)

Interest Level--Gr. 4-8     Difficulty Level--age 9-12

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Free at Last! Stories and Songs of Emancipation
Free at Last!
Stories and Songs of Emancipation

Riveting personal stories share the experiences of African Americans from the Emancipation Proc- lamation to the 1954 end to 'Separate but Equal' laws.  Poetry, memoirs, songs, letters, and court testimonies are all used to great emotional effect, and are paired with Evan's dramatic oil paintings. We highly recommend this book!

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 4-8      Difficulty Level--age 9-12

Click for mroe on Free at Last
Come Juneteenth by Ann Rinaldi
Come Juneteenth
by Ann Rinaldi

Texas slave owners kept news of the proclamation a secret from their slaves until they were forced to reveal it on June 19, 1865, known as Juneteenth to ex-slaves. It has been celebrated ever since. This story follows Sis Goose, a mulatto slave who, despite a close relationship with her owners, is not told of her freedom until it is too late. School Library Journal called this book "a real page-turner for lovers of historical fiction."

Interest Level--Gr. 5-7     Difficulty Level--age 9-12

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Freedom's Children by Thomas
Freedom's Children: The Passage
from Emancipation to the Great Migration

Summary: From the Emancipation to the Great Migration, ex-slaves, who had neither land, money, or education, struggled to find or make their own opportunities. Documents, historic photographs, a schoolbook, and more, make this title unforgettable.

Reading Levels:
Interest Level--Gr. 6+    Difficulty Level--Y.A.

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Do you know of a good children's book about the emancipation of slaves in America. If so, please let us know by completing the Suggest a Book form, located in the top right hand column. Thank you.

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