Soulful Holidays

An inclusive rhyming story celebrating the joys of Christmas and Kwanzaa

Children - Social Issues
34 Pages
Reviewed on 10/10/2021
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Author Biography

Ciara L. Hill is a best-selling and award-winning children's book author and a licensed child and family therapist in Washington, DC. Ciara is happily married and has a son. Once a traveling "military brat" due to her father's enlistment in the US Army, she was introduced early on to different cultures and the importance of diverse representation. As an author, Ciara aims to create books that feature BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). And help all children learn invaluable lessons while receiving powerful and inspiring messages.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rachelle Smith for Readers' Favorite

Soulful Holidays by Ciara L. Hill is a beautifully crafted rhyming story that reminisces on the traditions many African American families know and love. The poem instantly sparks nostalgia with references to holiday foods, musical selections, and activities. Then, readers are gently pulled into the Kwanzaa celebration, as Hill provides historical significance and instructions on how to experience the week-long observance. At the end of the book, Hill’s bio says that she writes “stories focused on positively highlighting inclusive representation in children’s books.” Indeed, this book is a positive depiction of aspects of African American culture. Soulful Holidays ends by asking readers if they enjoy Christmas and Kwanzaa to invite conversation about cultural celebrations families should enjoy throughout the year. Even readers who aren’t Christian might enjoy learning about the soulful seasonal traditions.

Illustrated in a vibrant palette that pulls color from Kente designs, Soulful Holidays is also a visual delight. The scenes accompanying the poem depict black and brown families enjoying the season, enjoying each other’s company, and enjoying life. Children can get involved with identifying the activities these families are participating in. Bravo to the illustrator for incorporating a variety of scenes to truly showcase the season! Soulful Holidays by Ciara L. Hill is a wonderful addition to winter holiday reads. Families can even add reading this book to their holiday traditions. As a bonus, it provides enough cultural information that can be enjoyed year-round to celebrate diversity.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Soulful Holidays: An inclusive rhyming story celebrating the joys of Christmas and Kwanzaa is a children's book by Ciara L Hill. Christmas is a happy and exciting time of the year. With music, special foods, family gatherings, and lots of music, there is a lot to enjoy. But, for many families, there are other celebrations during the Yuletide season. For African-American families, there’s Kwanzaa, a seven-day event that begins on December 26th. It’s a celebration of community, family, and culture; for many, it is a great way to reconnect with African ancestry and heritage.

Ciara L Hill’s picture book story, Soulful Holidays, is a great way for families to share the Yuletide festivities of both Christmas and Kwanzaa. The author provides an inclusive look at both festivals and leads the reader, with lyrical rhyming verse, through the two big festivals that fill the Yuletide season. The author includes favorite foods of both festivities, special music, cultural decorations, traditional costumes, stories, and so much more. The bold, colorful illustrations also reflect on African-American art and culture, allowing readers of all cultures to learn and appreciate the values and memories these holidays and festivities provide. Both holidays weigh deeply on a person’s soul, with heartwarming sincerity and compassion. The biggest, most important element of each holiday is the family togetherness time and the memories both created and shared. While the story leads young readers through reminiscences of past holidays, it also encourages them to create new, equally exciting memories. This book is a classic to be enjoyed by everyone, a very soulful book.

Joe Wisinski

Soulful Holidays: An inclusive rhyming story celebrating the joys of Christmas and Kwanzaa by Ciara L Hill teaches young children about both celebrations' food, songs, and cultural decorations. The author says her book is for “families who honor one or both of these incredible holidays,” and she describes in detail how families engage in these celebrations. Hill supplies a link for free downloadable resources for parents and teachers, such as Literacy Lesson Plans and a “pledge certificate” that encourages children to welcome diversity and yet be true to themselves. Hill doesn’t say what ages she intends her book for, but it would be appropriate for any child when they first want to be read to, right up to grade school level. Christian Krabbe illustrates the book.

I enjoyed reading Soulful Holidays by Ciara L Hill. Although it’s a children’s book, I’m sure other adults will enjoy it too. I learned some interesting facts about Kwanzaa, including the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. Children will enjoy the book’s pleasant rhyming and become more educated about both Christmas and Kwanzaa. I liked that the author provided a page for children to draw a picture of their family. That kind of interaction will help children become involved, which in turn will further teach them and help them remember the information the book conveys. The illustrations by Christian Krabbe are beautiful and fit the story perfectly; in fact, they help tell the story. I highly recommend Ciara L Hill’s wonderful book about Christmas and Kwanzaa.