• Caitlin Baker

MAR Book Review: Together For Kwanzaa

Each week Moms Against Racism will review a book from our monthly book list and provide questions and prompts for discussion with your kids. Let us know how it goes!

Book Cover with drawing of a young Black girl entering a room with multicoloured words beside her that read The Day You Begin.
Together For Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford

“This story tells how Kayla and her family celebrate Kwanzaa. Some families may have different Kwanzaa traditions, but all Kwanzaa celebrations are special in their own way!” - Juwanda G. Ford

Together for Kwanzaa, written by Juwanda G. Ford and illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger depicts a family’s Kwanzaa celebrations in ways young children will be able to understand and relate to their own family’s holiday traditions. An author’s note is included at the outset, indicating that “This story tells how Kayla and her family celebrate Kwanzaa. Some families may have different Kwanzaa traditions, but all Kwanzaa celebrations are special in their own way!” This acknowledgment is important not only because it shows different families may celebrate the same holiday and traditions can differ slightly but also because it offers the important distinction that culture is not monolithic.


The text in Together for Kwanzaa includes a pronunciation guide, which is useful for readers ensuring that they are correctly pronouncing terminology which may previously be unfamiliar. Translations are also explained for Swahili phrases and terms. Throughout the book Kayla, the main character, acknowledges her disappointment and sadness at her older brother, Khari, being trapped at college and unable to join them due to a snowstorm. Children reading the story will easily be able to relate to these feelings as well as other themes relating to family. The illustrations throughout are warm, colourful, bright, and appealing, beautifully complementing this emphasis on the importance of family togetherness as a central focus to holiday celebrations.


Questions for discussion during/after reading:

  • The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Throughout the book, Kayla talks about ways that her family lives the principles of Kwanzaa throughout the year. Are any of these principles similar to things that are important to your family? Can you think of ways your family shows this?

  • How are Kayla’s family’s holiday celebrations the same as your family’s? How are they different?

  • What are some important traditions your family celebrates?

  • Can you think of a time when a family member was missing from an important celebration? How did this make you feel? How is family important to you?


We hope reading this book with your children help both you and them become more comfortable talking about race, racial injustice, residential school trauma, and Canada's history . If you would like additional support, make sure you join our Moms Against Racism Facebook Group.


This blog post has been brought to you by our partner-sponsor Bolen Books. If you are looking to add anti-racism books to your personal library, please buy from Bolen!


#MomsAgainstRacism #TheDayYouBegin #ReadToKids #StoryTime #DiverseBooks #DiverseChildrenBooks #DiversePictureBooks #moms #mothering #parenting #parentingskills #mindfulparenting #antiracistparenting #antiracisteducation #antiracistbooks #learningathome #raisingleaders #raisingreaders #kidlit


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