The winter holidays bring with them a certain magic and excitement for children and adults alike. With a little more down-time (hopefully) and a lot more sparkle, having the chance to cozy up with a holiday book is an intimate way to bring winter celebrations right into your home. 

Kwanzaa, and its seven guiding principles, is the embodiment of holiday spirit. Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to bring together the African American community, Kwanzaa celebrates the principles of: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Each principle coincides with one of the seven days—celebrated from December 26 through January 1. 

Whether you are looking for a Kwanzaa gift to share with your children, want to educate others on what Kwanzaa is or wish to introduce your children to this celebration, the following Kwanzaa books for kids offer young children memorable ways to learn and practice the seven principles now and throughout the year. 

Kwanzaa books for kids

I Spy Kwanzaa

1. I Spy With My Little Eye: Kwanzaa by Jaco Design

This sweet book is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. The seek-and-find format allows them to interact and helps them recognize the iconic elements that represent Kwanzaa: candle holders, fruit, cups and more.


2. My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz

Author-illustrator Karen Katz brings the seven days and the seven principles of Kwanzaa into a simple format geared toward children ages 2 to 5. However, don’t think that older children can’t enjoy it. One Amazon review from a librarian and Disney Teacher of the Year nominee said, “This is the best book for children, of all ages, about Kwanzaa. It explains it simply and perfectly…” Katz is known for her award-winning books for children that talk about immigration, adoption, multi-cultural celebrations and inclusion, including “My First Ramadan” and “The Color of Us.”

kwanzaa abc book

3. My First Kwanzaa ABC Picture Book by MadGaviette Publishing

Introduce babies and toddlers to the traditions of Kwanzaa as well as Black culture with this colorful little book. Arranged in A to Z format, each page includes an element of Kwanzaa and Black culture in a beautifully framed illustration with simple text. F is for First Fruits, K is for Kinara, Z is for Zawadi… the artwork itself is worth the price of the book alone, but the small format is perfect for little hands.

lil rabbits kwanzaa

4. Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington

Meet Li’l Rabbit, who loves celebrating Kwanzaa. This year his Granna Rabbit is sick, so his family will miss out on Li’l Rabbit’s favorite part—the big feast called Karamu. Although Li’l Rabbit is disappointed he decides to try to find his Granna a special way to celebrate. Along the way Li’l Rabbit, and young readers, will discover the seven principles of Kwanzaa in action. Not only is this a very interactive way for toddlers and preschoolers to learn about Kwanzaa, all kids will certainly relate to Li’l Rabbit’s feelings of disappointment in having to miss out on traditions he loves.


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

We all know that siblings fight, and the seven brothers at the heart of this story do a lot of arguing! But, when their father dies, his will asks of them a nearly impossible task—they are given one day to turn seven spools of thread into gold, lest they live a life as beggars. Author Angela Shelf Madaris has crafted this folk tale to explain the seven principles of Kwanzaa in a way that children can relate to. Accompanied by linoleum block prints by Daniel Minter, the book also has a glossary and index to further explore the holiday and its foundation.


6. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Pinkney

This highly informative children’s book was first published in the early ‘90s and offers children a detailed history of the origins of the holiday including its name and the connection to harvest celebrations throughout the continent of Africa, and explains the candles, their colors and how they correspond to the seven days of Kwanzaa and the seven principles.


7. My Family Celebrates Kwanzaa by Lisa Bullard

In this early-reader chapter book, kids meet Kevin, whose family celebrates Kwanzaa. In each chapter, kids will learn about the holiday as Kevin and his family prepare for and participate in the traditions of Kwanzaa. From the history behind Kwanzaa, preparation, why Kwanzaa lasts for seven days, lighting the candles and more. Critical thinking skills for littles are invoked with the question-and-answer section along with a glossary. 

Kwanzaa gets an A

8. Kwanzaa Gets an A by Steven Christopher Thedford

One day, the author’s daughter asked him a question: Why does the African American holiday of Kwanzaa have the letter A twice at the end, but the Swahili word has only one. And, like so often happens to us parents, he didn’t have an immediate answer. So, he started to research just why that was, and discovered more than one explanation. This book is a beautifully illustrated exploration of the story behind Kwanzaa, including that extra A.


9. Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford

Kayla loves celebrating Kwanzaa with her family every year, but this year a snowstorm is looming and it looks like it’s going to keep her brother, Khari, from getting home to celebrate. Learn all about the traditions of Kwanzaa through Kayla’s story as her family prepares for the holiday. Not only does “Together for Kwanzaa” teach little readers all about the traditions of Kwanzaa, we see them modeled in the storyline itself.

A version of this post was published December 14, 2021. It has been updated.