More African Children's Books

by Rachel

Several years ago, I posted a very short blog on some of our favorite African children's books.  Maggie was just starting to get interested in reading, and we had a total of 4-5 books with a Swahili/East Africa theme to them.  Over the past several years, we've acquired a few more but there don't seem to be a ton of children's books featuring African countries or themes.  Lots of books about animals, I suppose, but not so many on African kids.  Well, Jess has been doing some research on good African books to use in our home school curriculum next year.  Since our family was state-side with access to an awesome library, we were the guinea pigs who were sent to check out the books and see if they were appropriate to use or not.  It was so fun!  And now, several months later, I feel like I've probably read over 75% of all the books in print in this category. :)  Here are some of our favorites if you want to check them out with your kids.

Africa is not a Country  I love this one because it really highlights the fact that there are over 60 countries on the continent of Africa, and talks about a typical day in the life of a kid in many of those countries.  Nice pictures and maps, and serves to educate people in a fun way about Africa's differences, not just similarities.

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folk Tales  This one is also great...a collection of folk tales from many different countries in Africa, assembled by Mandela.  The audio version is cool and award-winning, read by such celebrities as Samuel Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg.  And as with many African children's books, the artwork is fantastic.  I liked the fact that the stories came from all over the continent.  There are lots of collections of folk tales out there, but this is one of the best.

Wangari's Trees of Peace  My mom got us this one.  It's about a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a Kenyan woman (Wangari) who got Kenyan village women to start planting trees in order to improve deforestation.  Good message, good awareness of a problem and the woman who found a simple solution, and good artwork.

Mama Panya'a Pancakes  This is a cute story about how generosity leads to more generosity.  In other words, a little boy invites all his friends and neighbors in a small Kenyan village to eat pancakes with him and his mother.  His mother is worried they won't have enough food.  But when their friends show up, everyone brings some food along and they have a fun time together.

There are also many stories I found about the perseverance and ingenuity of children in a variety of contexts and countries.  In particular, I enjoyed Galimoto (A Reading Rainbow book about a little boy  in Malawi who makes a toy out of wires),  Yatandou (the story of a girl in Mali who helps her village rent a machine to grind millet), One Hen (how a boy in Ghana used a few coins to buy a chicken and eventually an entire farm), One Plastic Bag (a woman in Guinea who recycles plastic bags/trash to make crafts for sale), and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (the inspiring story of a boy in Malawi who made a windmill to power his family's farm by looking at a library book).    It was great to check these out, and I look forward to another installment of books written for the 9-12 age group.

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