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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.