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Seven Picture Books for Kwanzaa


Kwanzaa—celebrated every year between December 26 and January 1—brings many African-American families together to enjoy the "first fruits of the harvest," the Swahili phrase from which its name is derived. Its traditions, like lighting the seven candles on the kinara and feasting at a party on the last night of the holiday, center around family and community. 

What could be a better way to introduce the principles of Kwanzaa than picture books? Here are a few of our favorites—one for each night of the holiday.


Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington

When Granna Rabbit is too sick during Kwanzaa to prepare the final festive meal, Li'l Rabbit goes on a quest to help and, in the process, embodies the spirit of the holiday.



Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medaris

An original folktale that illustrates the principles of Kwanzaa. Set in a village in Ghana, the story centers on seven brothers who must work together to weave the first Kente cloth. (This is a good companion to Medaris' The Seven Days of Kwanzaa, an earlier book of nonfiction that outlines the customs of Kwanzaa.)





My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz

A simple, colorful book that introduces the basic concepts and symbols of the holiday to the youngest readers.





The Sound of Kwanzaa by Dimitrea Tokunbo

Another good choice for very young readers! This book defines the Swahili words that make up the seven principles and illustrates them with vibrant illustrations.




Together for Kwanzaa by Juwande G. Ford

Need an e-book? This picture book about a girl hoping her big brother makes it home in time to celebrate with her works beautifully on a phone or other e-reading device. 





Celebra Kwanzaa con Botitas y Sus Gatitos by F. Isabel Campoy

Kittens on Kwanzaa? Yes, please. This bilingual book, with text in Spanish and English, tells the story of a family searching for their missing cat every day of the holiday.


Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!


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Holiday Books

Thank you for these suggestions. I plan on reviewing them and buying for my school library!

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