Praise For Kwanzaa Gets An A

             'Kwanzaa Gets an A' by Steven Thedford is a simple yet thoroughly written children's book that explains the history of Kwanzaa. The content is presented in a manner that children and parents will appreciate. LaSquizzie Kern, the illustrator, has provided visually appealing images that enhance the story and gives readers an enjoyable representation with which to follow along. Short and to the point, 'Kwanzaa Gets an A', is a title that teachers and parents can use to introduce and/or revisit the important history of Kwanzaa.

                                                            -Sherrie Wallace, Site Manager, Tulsa City County Library

 This well written picturesque book is much needed in promoting the African American seven-day celebration of Kwanzaa. The author introduces a fresh approach to this important fact about KWANZAA. Steven C. Thedford has concisely presented the why of the extra A at the end of the Swahili word Kwanzaa. The authenticity of the characters enhances one’s desire to read and enjoy this story. The vivid and bold colors add to the delight of reading this book. This book can be added to one's collection as a treasure.  

                                                                                                                                         -Dr. Christine B. ArinzeSamuel, President Kuumba Storytellers

Finally, a picture book has been published that tells the history of Kwanzaa.  The books available in the market about Kwanzaa either describe how to celebrate the holiday or feature a family celebrating the African American Holiday. Yet, currently, there is no children’s book that provides the backstory to the holiday which has existed for over fifty years, until now.  Moreover, the author provides insights to what inspired Dr. Maulana Karenga to create Kwanzaa- The Watts riots of“I love the pictures, “said people who almost broke their necks trying to capture a glimpse of the illustrations as I read the book. I concur with them; the illustrations are vibrant and bring to life the words of the story.  Moreover, it is also notable that the pictures are filled with color that imparts energy to the story and transports the reader into the varied settings presented- a library, Africa, Los Angeles, and the apartment where the first Kwanzaa celebrations took place.  More than that, the illustrations epitomized the essence Kwanzaa’s principle, which means creativity-Kuumba.

I couldn’t wait until Christmas eve to hear the story titled Twas The night   Before Christmas. It was a traditional that I looked forward to each year.  I still want to hear that story during the winter holidays   I also read the story to my children on Christmas Eve, as they were growing.  I suspect many Jewish children feel the same way about the story of Hanukkah. Now, it is possible for families celebrating Kwanzaa to provide their children with the same experience as Kwanzaa Gets an A 

Many people might ask this question: why is the book important? Schools across America teach their students about the different holidays that are celebrated, such as Christmas and Hanukkah.  This way, they get to know the origin of these holidays; however, that is not the case for Kwanzaa.   With the publication of Kwanzaa Gets an A, kid will finally know that the Watts riots of 1965 inspired Dr. Karenga to create the Holiday.  

Beyond anything else, the book takes kids on a visual field trip from Los Angeles to Africa where Dr. Karenga extracted customs from the harvest festivals of the Egyptian and Zulus of South African, which is known as the foundation of Kwanzaa.  I would guess that millions of people who celebrate Kwanzaa are unaware of the fact that Kwanzaa started in an apartment in Los Angeles, and that in Swahili, Kwanzaa has only one “a.” Thanks to Steven C. Thedford, they will now know How the American Holiday of Kwanzaa got an extra “a.”  


 -Thomas Kaffir Shabazz, Community Activist 

I was asked to review a book called "Kwanzaa Gets An A" ~ written by Steven C. Thedford and illustrated by LaSquizzie Kern during Kwanzaa. However, as we were so busy in preparation for and during Kwanzaa in Buffalo I'm just now getting to it. So here it is! Àsé? In reviewing this book I decided to read this to my 7 year old son, Asheem, since it is a children's book so I could also get an innocent & honest child feedback from him to add to this review. Our family has been celebrating Kwanzaa since well before he was born, approximately 15 years. That being said... The one thing that I honestly did not know and learned about in THIS book is that "Kwanzaa" was initially spelled "Kwanza" as it is in Swahili and extra "A" was added later on. To that point, I'll let you read this book to learn how it was added. If you don't know I won't want to spoil it for all of you!! Àsé? The book has pages with rhyming. As well as, a call and response component that engaged my child. He is used to saying Àsé - pronounced Ah-shay! In the book the author has written Ashe. Asheem learned and pointed out that he didn't know that Kwanzaa began in a Los Angeles, California apartment. He thought it started in Africa. Later in the book he sees that the celebration is influenced by the Egyptians and Zulu harvest time festivals. Asheem also pointed out that illustration depicting the end of the ceremony has children with closed fists in the air and that only one girl had it right. The illustrator had one girl with an open first in the air. Asheem said, "She's the smart one, right there." Also, I noticed that the book describes children that put "fists into the air and pulled them down seven times, halfway. On the last one the watoto and the griot said, "Harambee!"" In our Kwanzaa Celebrations, we have our right arms held high, hands with fingers spread apart then we pull them down into a fist as we loudly and proudly yell Harambee EACH time we pull down. We do this motion 7 times with the last fist pull-down held for as long as you can scream and hold the word - Harambeeeee! I'm proud to report that the community of Buffalo can hold it for at least 45 second, WITHOUT PASSING OUT! The author ends with a glossary of terms presented in the book. This was very helpful so that people can refer to the pronunciation and meaning of each word that may not have been defined in the reading. Overall, I liked the facts presented in the book that are not mentioned in our celebrations. I also enjoyed the illustrations, as did Asheem. The illustrations in the book are colorful but some of the pages could be lighter so that some of the images of the children depicted can be seen more clearly. I would have hoped to see the Nguzo Saba - The Seven Principles - presented. I took notice that Not one Principle was mentioned or illustrated throughout the book. I was a bit surprised that it wasn't included at all in this book. There were 3 symbols presented in the book - Kinara (The Candle Holder), Mkeka (The Mat), and Muhindi (The Corn). However, Kwanzaa has 4 other symbols and 2 supplemental one that were not illustrated and/or mentioned. These were the Mazao (The Crops), Mishumaa Saba (The Seven Candles), Kikombe Cha Umoja (The Unity Cup), Zawadi (The Gifts) and Bendera (The Flag) & Nguzi Saba Poster (The Seven Principles Poster). I would recommend the book for families with young children as they begin to explore the possibilities of Celebrating Kwanzaa. As well as families who have celebrated Kwanzaa for many years but haven't yet learned how Kwanzaa got that extra "A"! Àsé? 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     --Quenn Nia Review 

Kwanzaa Gets An A provides fun color illustrations by LaSquizzie Kern and adopts a rollicking rhyme format that lends to adult read-aloud as it follows the story of Kwanzaa and explains some of its seemingly odd facets, such as why Kwanzaa has two A's when it's a holiday mention, but only one in Swahili. Each page of rhyming story receives a full facing page of colorful drawings of children gathering around to learn the Kwanzaa story from a griot dressed in an African gown. Kids learn Swahili terms and African culture as they receive diverse stories, from the 1965 Watts riot in Los Angeles and how it affected the African American community to how teacher Dr. Maulana Karenga decided to restore a community "destroyed by racist horseplay" by returning to African roots. His influence on making Kwanzaa part of American culture is revealed as his creation of a harvest festival patterned on the Egyptian and Zulu cultural holiday turns into a wider-ranging story of Kwanzaa's evolution through American culture from the 1960s to modern times. This picture book story nicely compliments other Kwanzaa books on the market today by providing a clear, engaging, and lively overview of its history and evolution. Picture book readers will relish its tone, spirited history, and the easy way in which it pairs an exploration of Kwanzaa's African roots with how the holiday became an integral part of the African American community. No multicultural picture book collection should be without this fun, informative survey.                                                                                                                         -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             -Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review 

Kwanzaa (definitely) Gets an A!! A story that describes and explains the meaning of Kwanzaa and requires student participation, which is a good thing. I like the way the sayings are repeated for the better part of the story. This is a book that will stand the test of time. The icing on the cake is the explanation of all of the terms used throughout the book. A must have for both children and adults!

 -Pam Rice (kidsShelf Books)

Kwanzaa Gets an A_book review - YouTube by Suzan Johnson: