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Celebrate Kwanzaa

All About the African Amercan Holiday

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Cover art of Celebrate Kwanzaa, a children's nonfiction picture book

Celebrate Kwanzaa

National Geographic Society
Celebrate Kwanzaa: with Candles, Community and the Fruits of the Harvest is part of National Geographic's Holidays Around the World Series. According to the publisher, the purpose of the series is to introduce "readers in grades one to four to different religious and cultural holidays celebrated around the globe." Like the other books in the series, Celebrate Kwanzaa is a nonfiction book illustrated with striking color photographs.

Celebrate Kwanzaa: The Design and Contents of the Book

Like the other books in the Holidays Around the World series, Celebrate Kwanzaa is designed with a picture book format, includes facts about the holiday and photographs of people in different cities and countries celebrating the holiday, as well as additional resources in the More About... section at the end of the book. Children learn that Kwanzaa is not just celebrated in their city or town but in cities and towns throughout the United States, and in some parts of Canada.

In the More About... section of Celebrate Kwanzaa, you'll find quick facts about Kwanzaa, a glossary, a recipe for Sweet Potato Pie, a map showing all of the cities in the U.S. and Canada where the photographs in the book were taken, and an essay about Kwanzaa.

Celebrate Kwanzaa focuses on the history of Kwanzaa, the symbols of Kwanzaa and the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Author Carolyn Otto stresses that, "Although Kwanzaa is grounded in black culture, the holiday's seven principles represent universal values that anyone can relate to." These principles are Unity, Self-determination, Work and Responsibility, Cooperation, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Each day of Kwanzaa, which begins on December 26, families light a special candle, review one of the principles, and celebrate, with food, family and friends.

Celebrate Kwanzaa: The Author

The author of Celebrate Kwanzaa, Carolyn Otto, has written numerous nonfiction books for children. Keith Mayes, an assistant professor in the Department of African-American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota, served as a consultant to the project and also contributed an essay to the More About... section of the book.

Celebrate Kwanzaa: My Recommendation

Like the other books in the Holidays Around the World series, I think Celebrate Kwanzaa will appeal to a broader audience than just children in grades 1-4. Younger children will enjoy the colorful photographs while older children will further expand their knowledge of Kwanzaa. While Celebrate Kwanzaa does not provide an in-depth look at Kwanzaa, it does provide a good overview of, and introduction to, Kwanzaa. Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa or just want your children to learn about a variety of religious and cultural holidays, I recommend Celebrate Kwanzaa and the other books in the Holidays Around the World series. Other books in the series I've reviewed include Celebrate Hanukkah and Celebrate Passover. (National Geographic Society, 2008. ISBN: 9781426803197)

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