Kwanzaa (Best Holiday Books)

Kwanzaa (Best Holiday Books)

By: Dorothy Rhodes Freeman and Dianne M. MacMillan
Publisher: Enslow Elementary 
Publication Date: March 2008 
ISBN: 978-0766030428 
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler 
Review Date: December 2009 

Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that spans seven days and is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. The holiday was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in the 1960s because he wanted people to learn about their history and celebrate their heritage. He carefully researched African customs and discovered that many tribes had similar traditions, which he incorporated into his seven-day holiday. Each of the seven principles African tribes used in their holidays were adapted and used in Kwanzaa. Swahili is an African language that is understood by many so the language was used in naming the seven principles and other items used during the holiday. In 1966 a handful of African-Americans celebrated it and today Kwanzaa has been embraced by millions.

In this book the reader will learn about each of the seven days and principles behind them, how families come together during this time, learn about traditional African costumes worn during this time, how families honor their dead relatives, learn about African foods, learn about sharing, how families talk about their goals, how people dance, how they express their artistry, how people talk about successful African-Americans, learn about the seven Kwanzaa symbols.

This book was very well written, concise and fascinating. This is one holiday that all children should learn about as some of their peers may celebrate it. The vibrant photography lends a lot to the text and shows the reader the joy of the season. In the back of the book there is a section describing the Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) with pronunciations, a "words to know" section, meanings of Swahili words used during Kwanzaa, an excellent index and additional recommended book and internet resources.

Quill says: There are many books on Kwanzaa, but this one is an especially good one to teach children about their own heritage or that of others.

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