Library on Topic: Kwanzaa
The celebration of Kwanzaa is from December 26th through January 1st every year. The holiday is not a religious holiday nor is it in competition to replace Christmas. As a holiday it is a fairly new holiday established in 1966 by Maulana Kerenga, Ph.D. Dr. Kerenga created the holiday as a way to bring healing and community to the United States (U.S.) African American population after the California Watts Riots of 1965. Although the holiday was created in the U.S. it gained popularity and is now celebrated globally. The Kwanzaa holiday is a combination of many Pan-African traditions including the name, which is derived from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits”.
Many of the words and symbols are from different African harvest festivals with several from the Ashanti and Zulu tribes. The Kwanzaa holiday has seven symbols and seven days or principles of focus. Seven, in various religious practices, is the number of completion. The seven principles are called Nguzo Saba and each day of the week stands for a different principle that the African American community or anyone wishing to celebrate Kwanzaa should strive for in their daily lives and relationships with each other.
Day One: Umoja is Unity
Day Two: Kujichagulia is Self Determination
Day Three: Ujimaa is Collective Work and Responsibility
Day Four: Ujamaa is Cooperative Economics
Day Five: Nia is Purpose
Day Six: Kuumba is Creativity
Day Seven: Imani is Faith
The seven symbols are used to set the Kwanzaa table that will be displayed for the entire week. The Mkeka (mat) is the foundation and represents a connection to our shared history. Mazao (crops) are the representation of collective productivity. The Muhindi (corn) is for the child and to remind that this work is for future generations. Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) is another reminder to move in unity as a community. The centerpiece of the celebration is the Kinara and is the candle holder that is to pay honor to heritage and roots. The candles are called Mishumaa Saba and there are three red candles, three green candles, and one black candle. The seven candles coincide with the seven principles and are lit on each night of Kwanzaa. The black candle with is Umoja (unity) is lit first and is in the center. The next three principles are represented by the red candles are placed to the left. Finally, the last three principles are green candles and are represented by green candles. After the center candle is lit on the first-night others are lit left to right. The last symbol of Kwanzaa is Zawadi (gifts), however, the focus is not on material gifts but handmade gifts and educational gifts to show commitment to growth.
Early Learning (0-4)
- Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington; illustrated by Shane W. Evans
- L'il Rabbit searches for a gift for his grandmother when she is sick during Kwanzaa and surprises her with the best gift of all. Includes "The Nguzo Saba - The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa."
- My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz
- A girl describes how she and her family celebrate the seven days of Kwanzaa.
- Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford; illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger
- While celebrating Kwanzaa and its many traditions with her parents, Kayla hopes that her big brother Khari will get home from college before the holiday is over.
- Habari Gani? = What's the news? A Kwanzaa Story by Sundaira Morninghouse; paintings by Jody
- A seven-year-old American girl of African descent describes her family's attempt to make the celebration of Kwanzaa, a colorful, week-long festival of food and African traditions, part of their Christmas season.
School Age (5-8)
- Kevin's Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard; illustrated by Constanza Basaluzzo
- Kevin is excited for his turn to light the candles on the last night of Kwanzaa. As he narrates through the week of Kwanzaa, readers learn about the origins, purpose, and rituals of this holiday.
- Kwanzaa by Lisa J. Amstutz
- It's time to celebrate Kwanzaa! Light the kinara. Eat a big feast with your family. During Kwanzaa, people come together. They celebrate African American heritage
- Celebrate Kwanzaa by Carolyn Otto; consultant, Keith A. Mayes
- Presents the African-American holiday, which falls during the festive, gift-giving season and is celebrated by families, communities, and schools throughout America.
- Seven Spools of thread: a Kwanzaa story by Angela Shelf Medearis; illustrated by Daniel Minter
- When they are given the seemingly impossible task of turning the thread into gold, the seven Ashanti brothers put aside their differences, learn to get along and embody the principles of Kwanzaa. Includes information on Kwanzaa, West African cloth weaving, and instructions for making a belt.
- Kwanzaa by Dorothy Rhodes Freeman and Dianne M. MacMillan
- Introduces the African American holiday begun in 1966 which celebrates seven important principles
- Kwanzaa by Rachel Grack
- Relevant images match informative text in this introduction to Kwanzaa. Intended for students in kindergarten through third grade
- Kwanzaa: a family affair by Mildred Pitts Walter
- Discusses the origins and symbols of Kwanzaa, the holiday that focuses on African American history, culture, and experiences, and offers suggestions for ways to celebrate this holiday
- Kwanzaa karamu: cooking and crafts for a Kwanzaa feast by April A. Brady
- A colorfully illustrated introduction to Kwanzaa, an African and African-American holiday celebration, explains its history and meaning and offers recipes for a Kwanzaa Feast, including baked plantains, fried catfish, and Caribbean-flavored soups
- A Kwanzaa fable by Eric V. Copage
- Resenting the difficult responsibilities that are thrust upon him after his father's death, thirteen-year-old Jordan reluctantly helps his younger siblings and learns how the seven principles of Kwanzaa can be applied to everyday life
- The Complete Kwanzaa: celebrating our cultural harvest by Dorothy Winbush Riley
- A resource guide to Kwanzaa is organized around the seven principles and describes the traditions, practices, and cultural foundations of the holiday
- A Kwanzaa keepsake: celebrating the holiday with new traditions and feasts by Jessica B. Harris
- Captures the essence of the African American celebration of Kwanzaa and offers more than fifty recipes, along with facts and projects that add to the holiday's spirit
- A plentiful harvest: creating balance and harmony through the seven living virtues by Terrie Williams
- An inspirational handbook for African-American women draws on the Seven Living Virtues of Kwanzaa--Community, Independence, Responsibility, Thrift, Love, Creativity, and Spirituality--to develop an empowering approach to help women achieve balance, an awareness of their heritage, and personal fulfillment in their lives