The Kwanzaa Coloring Book (Games & Puzzles)


Black Children's Book Festival (Atlanta, GA), February 24, 2018

            For the millions of people that celebrate Kwanzaa, New World Press has published a fanciful book that many parents will find helpful in teaching their children the principles and symbols of this African American holiday.  Illustrated by Rachel Mindrup and Rhonda Mathews, the coloring book illustrates the principles in activities through childhood games.  Afterwards, many of the symbols of the African American holiday are featured.  More importantly, New World Press has filled a void; in other words, most major bookstores do not stock coloring books that depict African Americans.
The publisher’s other publication, Inquiry Based Science Activities and Internet Lessons by Steven C. Thedford, is a book filled with small labs that many teachers will find beneficial.  In its new publication, The Kwanzaa Coloring Book(Games & Puzzles) the publisher has returned to the theme of providing activities for children. Yet, in this motif the focus has been narrowed to the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa.  This, however, has not in any way hampered its effectiveness.  In fact, New World Press. has produced a quality product.
Publishers in the last twenty years have made enormous progress in providing literature for African-American children in the United States.  Yet, most major bookstores and department chains rarely carry coloring books of children of color.  There are a few exceptions, but not many.  The Kwanzaa Coloring Book (Games & Puzzles) could change this fact, if major distributors adopt this book that provides positive and creative African-American imagery.
The coloring book is small but packed with images that America does not normally associate with African-American children. For example, Rachel Mindrup illustrates the first principle, Umoja (Unity), by depicting African-American children (boys and girls) playing "Ring a-round the Rosy."  You do not see theses images in mainstream media.  By throwing their hat into this genre, New World Press, Inc., has taken the holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga and provided a medium where American children can develop positive images of African Americans.
Rhonda Mathews has illustrated several of the symbols of Kwanzaa in the coloring book.  For instance, the Kinara (the first symbol sketched in the coloring book) resembles what many would recognize as the Jewish Menorah.  In addition, she has done an intricate drawing of the Mkeka (a straw mat) that Kwanzaa symbols are placed on during the holiday.  Other symbols drawn include the Zawadi (Gifts), Kikombi Cha Umoja (Unity Cup), Vibunzi (Ears of Corn), and Mishumaa Saba (Candles).
Finally, children spend much of their primary years coloring.  With The Kwanzaa Coloring Book they not only will be coloring, but learning about African principles.  Furthermore, any child could pick up the coloring book and grasp the principles of Kwanzaa by coloring the pages.  As children color in the book, they will learn about unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperate economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.  As a result, children will be taught principles they can use throughout their lives.

Charles Kamau