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The Children's Bookshelf: A Flag for Juneteenth - March 5, 2023

A Flag for Juneteenth written and illustrated by Kim Taylor is a gorgeous picture book about this important holiday that takes place on June 19th and celebrates the freedom of African Americans from slavery-----originally declared by President Lincoln in 1863.

The story is told by Huldah, a young girl who is about to celebrate her 10th birthday on June 19, 1865. That very day, soldiers come to the Texas plantation and one of them reads an official statement that says in accordance with a proclamation from the President of the United States, all slaves are free. Great joy and celebration begin as the women start to make freedom flags, others begin to pray and most all begin to sing. Young Huldah also tells the reader that enslaved people had been made free two years earlier in 1863 by the Emancipation Proclamation, but they had not been told by their plantation owner!

As women quilted colorful flags the children brought back smooth sticks from the forest to use as flag poles. “Make a flag for all to see! Make a flag for Jubilee!”

Each of Kim Taylor’s illustrations are beautiful, informative, and full of joy. These story quilts were hand-made by Taylor and are exceptional in content, color and feeling. The illustration that shows Huldah, before her birthday celebration, sitting in her favorite tree with a small jar into which she catches a sun beam is eye-popping.

A Flag for Juneteenth written and illustrated by Kim Taylor will surely encourage young readers 4-8 years of age to reach out and touch each of the fascinating story-quilted illustrations. (Neal Porter Books, Holiday House Publishing) 2023.

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for A Flag for Juneteenth

All the illustrations in this book are done by quilting. Have you ever seen a quilt? Do you perhaps have one on your bed? Does anyone in your family make quilts? Why are these illustrations called story quilts? Look through the illustrations once again. Which story quilt is your favorite? Why?

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.