By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
“We’re glad we came today. We’re glad we came today. Hello, hello to everyone, we’re glad we came today.”
That was the mantra sang by a group of energetic and curious little learners Sunday during the National Postal Museum’s Kwanzaa Story Time. The event was part of the museum’s expansion of their storytelling initiative.
Kwanzaa according to the Official Kwanzaa Website was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as an African American and pan-African holiday celebrating “family, community and culture.”
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are: Umoja: Unity, Kujichagulia: Self-Determination, Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics, Nia: Purpose, Kuumba: Creativity and Imani: Faith.
“I think we’re in your third year,” said Maggie Sigle who works in the NPM’S Education Department and facilitated the event. “We’ve been evolving it.”
“This is our first time doing any holiday,” she explained.
Even though crowds were intimate in the first two classes Sunday, Sigle pointed out that story time peaks during Mondays with over 50 adults and kids, and they are just now trying weekend story times.
And Kwanzaa fit the bill of subjects to discuss. “I think we thought it was an important topic,” Sigle said.
Sigle unpacked the Kwanzaa celebration by reading “My First Kwanzaa” by Karen Katz. Since the audience ranged from two to four year old’s the challenge was finding a book that could speak to children at that age level.
“It was hard to find a book for ages that young for most holidays,” Sigle added.
However the enthusiastic crowds we no less engaged.
When Sigle asked her audience what they thought their purpose was in honor of the fifth day of Kwanzaa, also known as Nia, the answers varied.
“T-Rex,” one boy said.
“A robot businessman,” shouted another kid.
The NPM is also clear about their purpose (NIA), when it comes to their story time events.
“The goal for any group that young is to get them in the museum and to see that was a fun way to learn,”Sigle said. “It would be great if they learned more about Kwanzaa than when they came.”
“I’ll take it too if they just get a refresher on the numbers one to ten.”
Eliza Hill, a D.C. resident, who brought her two sons, 4 and 1and a half thought the Kwanzaa lesson was an especially important one.
“I love storytime I always make it part of their daily routine,” Hill said. “But I wanted them specifically to come to the Kwanzaa story telling because I wanted them to learn about Kwanzaa.”
“I’m from Africa, and I’m especially from Tanzania, so Kwanzaa is based on a lot of things that people learned from Tanzania. I wanted my kids to start learning about Kwanzaa and start to making it a tradition.”
Tamica Daniel, from D.C., brought her 3 and a half year old daughter Corinne to add onto the education she was getting from school about the celebration.
“She’s been learning about Kwanzaa at school and she learned a Kwanzaa song that she performed.” Daniel said. “She’s on break so we thought this would be a good way to continue what she was learning at school.”
“I didn’t really grow up celebrating Kwanzaa but I am finding it more and more interesting. I wanted to expose her to it so she understands the basic principles. I think with kids, music and stories are the best way to teach them about something.”
Kat Zambon, a D.C. resident 14 years brought her two year old daughter who has been really excited about holidays.
“Holidays are really clicking for her this year. So she wanted to go,” Zambon said. “She was very excited.”.
“It’s another way for her to relate to her classmates and other people in her neighborhood and just know about something that a lot of other people are celebrating.”