My First Kwanzaa Book

by Deborah Chocolate

Other authorsCal Massey (Illustrator)
Paperback, 1999





Scholastic Paperbacks (1999), Edition: Reprint, 32 pages


Introduces Kwanzaa, the holiday in which Afro-Americans celebrate their cultural heritage.

User reviews

LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
This is a little story about the things that people do on Kwanzaa. It also has little candle pictures with the names of each of the days of Kwanzaa and a simple explanation of the holiday in the back.
LibraryThing member alcrivello
A wonderful introduction to the traditions and language of Kwanzaa.
LibraryThing member ewestr1
I enjoyed this book because of the writing and illustrations. It took me a bit to catch on, but I liked how the author starts almost every page with the little boy's mama or papa saying "it's Kwanza time" because every time they did that, we as the reader got to really experience his holiday and we got to see first hand what this little boy is going through on this day of Kwanza. The writing is very easy to read, which is a good thing for readers who are trying to learn about or read about this boy's African holiday that he is celebrating. I liked that the illustrations went hand in hand with the writing; it made the story come to life seeing him excited to dress up in clothes from his culture and even to see his family. I think the illustrations are especially good because this teaches us a little bit about African culture since one might not know what an "African queen" looks like until they see the picture of his mother dressed up. I think that the author's message from this book was to be able to give the readers a glimpse into what goes on during the Kwamza holiday.… (more)
LibraryThing member katiebrennan
In my opinion, this was a good book. The glossary of terms in the back of the book that described the seven nights and principles of Kwanzaa were informative and written very clearly so that someone who does not celebrate Kwanzaa can understand. Also, the author presented the information in an engaging way so as to teach readers about the holiday as well as keep them interested and entertained. She did this by presenting the information through a narrative story. The main idea of this book is that Kwanzaa is a time for celebrating African heritage with family and friends.… (more)
LibraryThing member jraeke1
I really enjoyed reading this book because it was informative and easy to read without prior knowledge. For example, On the very first page it explains Kwanzaa is a holiday. Another reason I really enjoyed this book is because it uses short sentences that flow in order. On the bottom right corner of each page there is a picture of Kwanzaa candles that are dated and the events take place in order.
The main idea of this book is to explore family traditions and share about other cultures.
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LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
In this book, an unnamed boy talks about various things that his family does to celebrate Kwanzaa. With the constant refrain of "It's Kwanzaa time," he notes something new like lighting candles or unfurling a map of Africa. In this way, the book introduces young readers to various Kwanzaa traditions in a way that is slightly more exciting than a dry nonfiction book.

The downside of this book is I feel like it doesn't do enough to explain the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Each day of Kwanzaa is given a spread with a picture of a kinara in the lower right indicating what principle is relevant that day. But the text itself does not necessarily show the family doing something that embodies that principle. For instance, December 30th is for "nia" ("purpose"), but the text and illustrations show the boy beading necklaces with his mother and grandmother -- an activity that seems better fitted to the following day's principle ("kuumba" = "creativity") in which the story goes on to have other family members come visit.

In an afterword section, the author does explain more about Kwanzaa, the seven principles, and a variety of Swahili words related to the holiday. While this is certainly helpful for further learning, I wish that the story itself had done a better job of illuminating the Kwanzaa traditions - although it did well enough in terms of discussing the holiday with my very young class of toddlers.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 10.25 inches


0439129265 / 9780439129268


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