The Story of Kwanzaa
Donna L. Washington & Stephen Taylor
HarperCollins, 1997 (1996)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his cheerful picture book teaches us all about Kwanzaa, a celebration of the African American heritage that begins on December 26th each year. It opens with a history of African Americans - their origins in various kingdoms in Africa; slavery, and the stories (like those about
) and spiritual songs that emerged from it; the American civil war and the
that was its outcome; the civil rights movement and Dr. Maulana Karenga's creation of the Kwanzaa festival.
hen we learn about the meaning of Kwanzaa ('
' in Swahili) and its seven '
' (beliefs), one for each day of the holiday - '
' (unity), '
' (self-determination), '
' (working together), '
' (supporting African-American businesses), '
' (purpose), '
' (creativity), and '
' (faith). Preparations for the holiday are explained next, with children at the center, culminating in the '
' feast. At the back of the book are instructions to make small Kwanzaa gifts - a '
cow tail switch
', and '
' (which I plan to try soon) - and a glossary of festival phrases.
he Story of Kwanzaa
is an excellent little primer, aimed at kids from 6 to 10, and of interest to anyone who wants to learn about this popular holiday.
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