Christmas tends to steal the spotlight during the holiday season. As the country is decorated in reds and greens, let’s take some time to celebrate another holiday that may use the same festive colors, but is unique in its traditions. From December 26th to January 1st, millions of African American families will be partaking in the beautiful customs of Kwanzaa.
Whether you’ve been celebrating for years, or are just beginning to commemorate the meanings behind Kwanzaa, what better way to continue these traditions than by getting books about the holiday? Instill the love and compassion that Kwanzaa brings with these seven children’s books. By educating future generations about diverse holidays, these celebrations will no longer be seen as odd or “othered.” Instead, they’ll simply become a part of the norm. If you want your children to know more about Kwanzaa, keep scrolling! We’ve got seven great suggestions coming up!
1. The Story of Kwanzaa: A Kwanzaa Holiday Book for Kids by Donna L. Washington
We’re starting off strong with Donna Washington’s book, The Story of Kwanzaa: A Kwanzaa Holiday Book for Kids. All the information your kids need to know about the holiday is told in this book’s pages. Curated specifically for children ages four to eight, this book will teach them about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, also known as the Nguzo Saba.
While honoring the past and celebrating the future, this book continues its mission of spreading vital information with fun activities for everyone! Make your own cow-tail switch and learn how to bake benne cakes with ease! Your children are bound to learn a thing or two, all while having fun from reading!
2. The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi
Looking for a combination of history and honoring the festivities of Kwanzaa? Then you’re in luck! Pick up The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi to get the full scope of how Kwanzaa came to be. Zoboi tells the story of African descendants living in America, and how the seven principles shouldn’t just be used during the holiday but should become a part of our everyday lives.
With poetic writing, vibrant illustrations, and a story of survival against all odds, children will gain vital knowledge every time they read this book. While it does tackle some heavy topics, the overall message is that of family, love, and celebration of Black people in America.
3. Let’s Celebrate Kwanzaa by Arielle Phoenix
If you want to be more involved in your children’s reading, then Arielle Phoenix’s book is going to be your best friend. In her novel, Let’s Celebrate Kwanzaa: An Introduction To The Pan-Afrikan Holiday, Kwanzaa, For The Whole Family, everyone is encouraged to participate and be open to learning new information about Kwanzaa. Her book emphasizes the importance of family by making this book accessible for all ages! No matter if you’re young or old, there’s always something new to learn about diverse cultures and traditions.
Phoenix addresses the myths and misconceptions about the holiday and ensures that by the end of the book, you’ll be sitting on a great foundation of information about Kwanzaa. Included in the back of the book are fun activities for kids and parents. What could be a better way to celebrate the holiday than by being with family?
4. The Seven Days of Kwanzaa by Angela Shelf Medearis
This book is far from being a pamphlet of information or a basic explanation of Kwanzaa. Instead, this novel charts the holiday’s origins and continues the seven principles of Kwanzaa with biographies of notable Black icons in history. When Dr. Maulana Karenga created this holiday in 1965 to amplify Black voices and Pan-African traditions, he never imagined the holiday would gain as much traction as it did, but thank goodness it stuck with the African American population.
This novel is everything you need if you want your kids to know more about Kwanzaa. From Swahili terms to personal narratives, this book will not only make your child more knowledgeable, but it will make them feel seen. Christmas has a tendency to overshadow other holidays, but with this book, the spotlight will finally be shining on the celebrations that don’t get as much attention.
5. The Children’s Book of Kwanzaa: A Guide to Celebrating the Holiday by Dolores Johnson
Dolores Johnson does a job well done in her informative novel, The Children’s Book of Kwanzaa: A Guide to Celebrating the Holiday. Her simplistic book takes all the confusion out for kids and allows them to easily follow along with descriptions of how Kwanzaa is celebrated. Your kids will have all knowledge of the holiday at their disposal with this book. And that’s not even the best part.
While this novel does go over the history of Kwanzaa and states the importance of symbols of the holiday, it also provides amazing gift-giving ideas! Handmade gifts are a vital aspect of celebrating, and the book makes sure to include gift ideas that kids can make right from the comfort of their homes.
6. Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford
Celebrating Kwanzaa is hardly described in fictional tales, but author Juwanda G. Ford was determined to change that. In her fictional children’s book, Together for Kwanzaa, we follow the story of Kayla and her family. Kayla can’t wait until Kwanzaa arrives. But when a huge snowstorm stops her older brother, Khari, from making it home for the holidays, Kayla tries with all her might to make this Kwanzaa as special as years before. Will Khari make it home as the snow comes down? Or, will Kayla come up with a special plan for her family to celebrate together? This adorable tale puts emphasis on the meaning of Kwanzaa and brings everyone in the family closer for the holidays.
7. Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis
Author Angela Medearis has done it again! Her work in The Seven Days of Kwanzaa was impeccable, but now, she takes a different direction with her story Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story. Taking influence from the importance of the Nguzo Saba, Medearis tells the tale of seven brothers. These brothers have caused non-stop commotion in their village, but they’re all taken aback when their father suddenly passes.
In his will, he tells his sons they must make gold out of spools of thread without arguing. If they cannot complete the task, they will all be turned into beggars. The only way out of this is by working together. From eldest to youngest, all the brothers learn the importance of family, and they soon create the first tapestry of multicolored cloth. This story tells the tale of respect, community, and working together, principles that every person, no matter where you come from, should certainly know.
The seven days of Kwanzaa are steadily approaching. If you want your children to have a better understanding of this pivotal holiday, pick up any of these stories. Children deserve to see themselves in literature, and these seven books are a great way to start!
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