Friday, December 17

10 Children's Books About Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration in the United States that honors the African heritage of Black and African American families. It begins on December 26 and lasts until January 1st. During Kwanzaa, many families gather together to share a meal, exchange gifts and light the candles in a kinara. The following children's books introduce Kwanzaa and its history, rituals, traditions, and symbols. Fiction and nonfiction books are included in this list. Keep reading to learn more about this joyous holiday!
List of10 children's books about Kwanzaa. Learn about the traditions, the history, and the symbols of Kwanzaa. Fiction and nonfiction included.

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this post.

Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford

Author's Summary: Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa? A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.

🍎 Title: Together for Kwanzaa
🍎 Author: Juwanda G. Ford
🍎 Illustrator: Shelly Hehenberger
🍎 Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
🍎 Date: August 8, 2000
🍎 Pages: 24

Book Cover: Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford

Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis

Author's Summary: In an African village live seven brothers who make family life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread. If they fail, they will be turned out as beggars. Using the Nguzo Saba, or "seven principles" of Kwanzaa, the author has created an unforgettable story that shows how family members can pull together, for their own good and the good of the entire community. Magnificent and inspiring linoleum block prints by Daniel Minter bring joy to this Kwanzaa celebration.

🍎 Author: Angela Shelf Medearis
🍎 Illustrator: Daniel Minter:
🍎 Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
🍎 Date: September 1, 2000, reprint
🍎 Pages: 40

Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis

My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz

Author's Summary: 

"Hooray! Hooray! 
It's time to get ready for Kwanzaa."

During the seven days of Kwanzaa, we celebrate the importance of family, friends, and community. This warm and lively introduction to a very special holiday will help even the youngest children join in!

Author and illustrator Karen Katz's wonderful series of picture books for the very young offers a simple and fun way to get familiar with the traditions of holiday celebrations from different cultures. A simple way to get acquainted with Kwanzaa.

🍎 Title: My First Kwanzaa
🍎 Author: Karen Katz
🍎 Illustrator: Karen Katz
🍎 Publisher: Square Fish
🍎 Date: October 14, 2014, reprint
🍎 Pages: 32

My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz

Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington

Author's Summary: The story of Li'l Rabbit captures the true meaning of Kwanzaa—coming together to help others. Donna L. Washington's story, with art from Shane W. Evans (Chocolate Me!), provides a fun introduction to the holiday.

Li'l Rabbit is not having a very good Kwanzaa. Granna Rabbit is sick, and so his family won't celebrate his favorite part of Kwanzaa this year: a big feast called Karamu. Li'l Rabbit knows what to do! He'll find Granna Rabbit a special treat for Karamu so she can celebrate anyway. He looks under a pile of logs, in the field, and in the pond, and along the way meets Groundhog, Momma Field Mouse, and the frogs—but he doesn't find anything for Granna Rabbit. Maybe I'm just too little to help Granna Rabbit celebrate Kwanzaa, Li'l Rabbit thinks. Or maybe he just needs a little help from his family and friends.

🍎 Title: Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa
🍎 Author: Donna L. Washington
🍎 Illustrator: Shane W. Williams
🍎 Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
🍎 Date: December 15, 2020
🍎 Pages: 32

Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Kwanzaa by Carolyn Otto

Author's Summary: Celebrate Kwanzaa continues the spectacular Holidays Around the World series by focusing on this African-American holiday, which falls during the festive, gift-giving season and is celebrated by families, communities, and schools throughout America. With succinct, lively text and beautiful photographs, the book celebrates African-American culture and helps us to understand and appreciate this special holiday.

Over the course of seven days, African Americans, families and friends, come together to light the candles that symbolize their past and future—and their unity. They gather as a community to make music and to dance; to feast on harvest foods and the good things of the earth; and to exchange simple, often homemade, gifts. Readers are introduced to the symbols of the holiday, such as the mkeka (a special placemat), kinara (candleholder), and kikombe cha umoja (unity cup). Important concepts, like the seven principles, are explained. In addition, a note from the book's consultant, aimed at parents and teachers, puts the holiday in its full cultural and historical perspective.

🍎 Author: Carolyn Otto
🍎 Publisher: National Geographic Kids
🍎 Date: September 5, 2015, reprint
🍎 Pages: 32

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Kwanzaa by Carolyn Otto

The Story of Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington

Author's Summary: It’s time for Kwanzaa! Light the candles on the kinara! Fly the bendera, and tell stories from Africa! The festival of Kwanzaa was originated by Dr. Maulana Karenga to honor the customs and history of African Americans.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa, called the Nguzo Saba, serve to remind African Americans of the struggles of the past, and also focus on present-day achievements and goals for the future. The holiday fun continues with activities at the end of the book, including making your own cow-tail switch and baking benne cakes.

🍎 Title: The Story of Kwanzaa
🍎 Author: Donna L/ Washington
🍎 Illustrator: Stephen Taylor
🍎 Publisher: Harper Collins
🍎 Date: September 20, 1997, reprint
🍎 Pages: 40

The Story of Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington

Kevin's Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard

Author's Summary: Kevin's family is celebrating the seven days of Kwanzaa! Kevin helps his mom decorate the Kwanzaa table. They light candles with Grandma and Grandpa and learn a special word each day. They talk about working together and solving problems. On the sixth day, everyone eats and dances at a big feast!

🍎 Title: Kevin's Kwanzaa
🍎 Author: L Lisa Bullard
🍎 Illustrator: Constanza Basaluzzo
🍎 Publisher: Millbrook Press
🍎 Date: August 1, 2013
🍎 Pages: 34

Kevin's Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard

Soulful Holidays by Ciara L. Hill

Author's Summary: Cozy up together with this charmingly illustrated family book told in easy-to-read memorable rhymes. Through this heartwarming tale, children and families all over the world can experience the magic of Christmas and the true essence of Kwanzaa. Read about the food, songs, cultural decorations, and more! The catchy couplets in this dazzling picture book will delight readers with the inclusive traditions of families who honor one or both of these incredible holidays. Add this culturally significant rhyming picture book by award-winning author Ciara L. Hill, writer of successful, loveable children's stories such as Shiloh and Dande the Lion, to your holiday book collection today!

🍎 Title: Soulful Holidays
🍎 Author: Ciara L. Hill
🍎 Illustrator: Christian Krabbe
🍎 Publisher: Lawton Books
🍎 Date: October 7, 2021
🍎 Pages: 34

Soulful Holidays by Ciara L. Hill

Let's Celebrate Kwanzaa! by Arielle Phoenix

Author's Summary: This book can be used and enjoyed by the whole family as an introduction to the Pan-Afrikan holiday, Kwanzaa. Let's Celebrate Kwanzaa! keeps cultural education fun with bright, bold images, poems, stories, activities, and family games!

In this book, you will learn about the seven principles of Kwanzaa (nguzo saba) and how to apply them as lifelong virtues.

These principles are emphasized and reinforced during Kwanzaa but can and should be used as;
a foundation for personal development to aid in forming Rites of Passage African Centered approach to learning:

  • betterment
  • growth
  • knowledge of self
  • self-love
  • respect for others and unity
  • cultural pride

Kwanzaa is often misunderstood or assumed to be a religious holiday, but through the examples in this book, it becomes apparent why all Africans (at home and abroad), regardless of religion, tribe, or political stance can benefit from acknowledging, applying, and teaching the next generation about the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

🍎 Author: Arielle Phoenix
🍎 Illustrator: Arielle Phoenix
🍎 Publisher: self-published
🍎 Date: November 6, 2019
🍎 Pages: 35

Let's Celebrate Kwanzaa! by Arielle Phoenix

The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi

Author's Summary: The People Remember tells the journey of African descendants in America by connecting their history to the seven principles of Kwanzaa. It begins in Africa, where people were taken from their homes and families. They spoke different languages and had different customs.

Yet they were bound and chained together and forced onto ships sailing into an unknown future. Ultimately, all these people had to learn one common language and create a culture that combined their memories of home with new traditions that enabled them to thrive in this new land.

Sumptuously illustrated, this is an important book to read as a family—a story young readers can visit over and over again to deepen their understanding of African American history in relation to their own lives and current social justice movements. By turns powerful and revealing, this is a lyrical narrative that tells the story of survival, as well as the many moments of joy, celebration, and innovation of Black people in America.

🍎 Title: The People Remember
🍎 Author: Ibi Zoboi
🍎 Illustrator: Loveis Wise
🍎 Publisher: Balzer and Bray
🍎 Date: September 28, 2021
🍎 Pages: 64

The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi

Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Did you enjoy this list of Kwanzaa children's books? If so, check out these other blog posts for more books written by and about other Black and African American people:

#representationmatters #ownvoices

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