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Freedom: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about freedom?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to freedom. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about freedom.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about freedom, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Juneteenth for Mazie to popular sellers like The Giver to some of our favorite hidden gems like Freedom Soup.

We hope this list of kids books about freedom can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

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Juneteenth for Mazie
Written & illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history -- the day her ancestors were no longer slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth. This beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.
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Freedom Bird: A Tale of Hope and Courage
Written by Jerdine Nolen & illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
In this inspiring story in the tradition of American black folktales, an enslaved brother and sister are inspired by a majestic and mysterious bird to escape to freedom in this dramatic and unforgettable picture book. There was nothing civil about that war. They should have called it what it was: a big, bad war. Brother and sister Millicent and John are slaves on Simon Plenty’s plantation and have suffered one hurt and heartbreak after another. Their parents had told them old tales of how their ancestors had flown away to freedom just as free and easy as a bird. Millicent and John hold these stories in their hearts long after their parents are gone. “Maybe such a time will come for you,” their parents said. Then one day a mysterious bird appears in their lives. The bird transforms them and gives them the courage to set their plan into motion and escape to freedom.
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Freedom Soup
Written by Tami Charles & illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9
**Join the celebration in the kitchen as a family makes their traditional New Year’s soup — and shares the story of how Haitian independence came to be.** *The shake-shake of maracas vibrates down to my toes. Ti Gran’s feet tap-tap to the rhythm.* Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup — Freedom Soup — just like she was taught when she was a little girl. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle’s family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle’s family is from. In this celebration of cultural traditions passed from one generation to the next, Jacqueline Alcántara’s lush illustrations bring to life both Belle’s story and the story of the Haitian Revolution. Tami Charles’s lyrical text, as accessible as it is sensory, makes for a tale that readers will enjoy to the last drop.
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Free for You and Me: What Our First Amendment Means
Written by Christy Mihaly & illustrated by Manu Montoya
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
It's a free country! But what does that mean? Find out the five liberties protected by the First Amendment. Vivid examples from history and everyday life demonstrate the meaning of freedom of religion, speech, and the press, and the rights to assemble peacefully and to petition the government.
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Tiger Wild
Written & illustrated by Gwen Millward
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7
Sometimes feelings can go wild. . . Lily is a little girl with big emotions. And sometimes she can't keep herself from acting out and being naughty. Or rather, her imaginary friend, Tiger, is the naughty one. So when Tiger convinces her to run away, they have a blast stomping and jumping and going wild. But what is Lily to do when their adventure starts to feel a bit too wild? Tiger Wild gently illustrates how sometimes we all need a little help when certain feelings are hard to express. For there is a time to be wild and a time to be mild.
The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read book
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Moon book
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Paolo, Emperor of Rome book
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The Escape of Robert Smalls book
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  • The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read - Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation’s oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author. In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge More comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who—with perseverance and dedication—proved that you’re never too old to learn.

  • Moon - Like many children, Moon leads a busy life. School, homework, music lessons, sports, and the next day it begins again. She wonders if things could be different. Then, one night, she meets a wolf. The wolf takes Moon deep into the dark, fantastical forest and there she learns to howl, how to hide, how to be still, and how to be wild. And in that, she learns what it’s like to be free. This simply worded and stunningly illustrated story reveals the joy to be found in play, nature, and, most of all, embracing the wild in us all.

  • Paolo, Emperor of Rome - A daring dog takes a whirlwind tour of Rome in search of freedom in new picture book from beloved storyteller Mac Barnett and masterful illustrator Claire Keane Paolo the dachshund is trapped. Though he lives in Rome, a city filled with history and adventure, he is confined to a hair salon. Paolo dreams of the sweet life—la dolce vita—in the Eternal City. And then, one day, he escapes! Paolo throws himself into the city, finding adventure at every turn. Join our hero as he discovers the wonders of Rome: the ruins, the food, the art, the opera, and—of course—the cats. Readers will cheer the daring of this bighearted dog, whose story shows that even the smallest among us can achieve great things.

  • The Escape of Robert Smalls - The mist in Charleston Inner Harbor was heavy, but not heavy enough to disguise the stolen Confederate steamship, the Planter, from Confederate soldiers. In the early hours of May 13, 1862, in the midst of the deadly U.S. Civil War, an enslaved man named Robert Smalls was about to carry out a perilous plan of escape. Standing at the helm of the ship, Smalls impersonated the captain as he and his crew passed heavily armed Confederate forts to enter Union territory, where escaped slaves were given shelter. The suspenseful escape of the determined crew is celebrated with beautiful artwork and insightful prose, detailing the true account of an unsung American hero.

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Touch the Sun
Written by Emily Conolan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13
To find freedom, you must leave behind everything you've ever known. It is 2011. You want nothing more than to be a journalist in Somalia like your aunty. But the truth can be dangerous--and when you and your little sister are left alone, you find yourself facing life-and-death choices at every turn. Can you escape a terrorist organization and find a safe place to call home? You'll be asked to cross a desert on foot, hide below deck in a leaky boat, and put your life in the hands of people smugglers. At every turn, the choice is yours. How far will you go for freedom?
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The Giver
Written by Lois Lowry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14
A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.
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My Little Book of Big Freedoms
Written & illustrated by Chris Riddell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
A classic picture book edition of My Little Book of Big Freedoms illustrated by award-winning illustrator Chris Riddell, published in partnership with Amnesty International. We all want a good life, to have fun, to be safe, happy, and fulfilled. For this to happen, we need to look after each other and stand up for the basic human rights that we often take for granted. This book features 16 different freedoms, each accompanied by beautiful illustrations. It shows why our human rights are so important--they help to keep us safe. Every day.
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Never Caught, The Story Of Ona Judge
Written by Kathleen Van Cleve & illustrated by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13
A National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction, Never Caught is the eye-opening narrative of Ona Judge, George and Martha Washington’s runaway slave, who risked everything for a better life—now available as a young reader’s edition! In this incredible narrative, Erica Armstrong Dunbar reveals a fascinating and heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons’ when they were the First Family—and an in-depth look at their slave, Ona Judge, who dared to escape from one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Born into a life of slavery, Ona Judge eventually grew up to be George and Martha Washington’s “favored” dower slave. When she was told that she was going to be given as a wedding gift to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Ona made the bold and brave decision to flee to the north, where she would be a fugitive. From her childhood, to her time with the Washingtons and living in the slave quarters, to her escape to New Hampshire, Erica Armstrong Dunbar (along with Kathleen Van Cleve), shares an intimate glimpse into the life of a little-known, but powerful figure in history, and her brave journey as she fled the most powerful couple in the country.
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The Big Box
Written by Slade Morrison and Toni Morrison & illustrated by Giselle Potter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-10
Because they do not abide by the rules written by the adults around them, three children are judged unable to handle their freedom and forced to live in a box with three locks on the door.
Break Your Chains book
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Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons book
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  • Break Your Chains - To find freedom, you must leave behind everything you’ve ever known. It is 1825. You and Ma have survived on the streets of London ever since the soldiers took Da away and you fled Ireland. Now, with Ma gone too, you find yourself facing life-and-death choices at every turn. Can you carry a secret treasure across the ocean and finally be reunited with Da? You’ll be asked to betray your friends, survive storms at sea and attacks by bushrangers, and trust thieves. At every turn, the choice is yours. How far will you go for freedom?

  • Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons - Soon after American colonists had won independence from Great Britain, Ona Judge was fighting for her own freedom from one of America’s most famous founding fathers, George Washington. George and Martha Washington valued Ona as one of their most skilled and trustworthy slaves, but she would risk everything to achieve complete freedom. Born into slavery at Mount Vernon, Ona seized the opportunity to escape when she was brought to live in the President’s Mansion in Philadelphia. Ona fled to New Hampshire and started a new life. But the Washingtons wouldn’t give up easily. After her escape, Ona became the focus of a years-long manhunt, led by America’s first president. Gwendolyn Hooks’ vivid and detailed prose captures the danger, uncertainty, and persistence Ona Judge experienced during and after her heroic escape. The Capstone Interactive edition comes with simultaneous access for every student in your school and includes read aloud audio recorded by professional voice over artists.

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