African Cultural Children's Books

Children's books are a very powerful tool in instilling self esteem and confidence in children. We know sometimes it can be a bit stressful to find good children's books on African culture.  Below is a list of wonderfully illustrated children's books about Africa that will be great for your little one's library. 

**UPDATE** To make sure we keep this list as up to date as we can the downloadable version of the list might not always be as up to date as the list on the blog post.  But don't worry. Every time we update the download version we will email it to you if you signed up for the download. 

Obi & Titi is a new fun book series about the adventures of two young children and a very naughty monkey.  The pair discover  new and wonderful things about Africa's culture and  history. We would certainly recommend them! Age 4+ 

The story of Amina, a young girl from the United States who is anxious to lose her tooth while visiting her family in Mali so she can put it under a gourd for the African tooth fairy. In exchange for her tooth, the girl receives two chickens from the African tooth fairy. But will she be around long enough to see their eggs hatch? Age 3+

The Rain-maker is a children's book by Samson Onoja Itodo. Based on an African folk tale, the hero of the story fights the evil forces of his brother who is misusing the forces of nature. To find out about availability check out his website at Afrobizgermany. Age 4+

 

In this traditional Ashanti tale from Ghana, Anansi sets out on a long, difficult journey. Threatened by Fish and Falcon, he is saved from terrible fates by his sons. But which of his sons should Anansi reward? 

In adapting this popular folktale, Gerald McDermott merges the old with the new, combining bold, rich color with traditional African design motifs and authentic Ashanti language rhythms. Age 4+

On market day, Mama Panya s son Adika invites everyone he sees to a pancake dinner. How will Mama Panya ever feed them all? This clever and heartwarming story about Kenyan village life teaches the importance of sharing, even when you have little to give. The end notes of the story contains information about village life in Kenya, an introduction to Kiswahili and a receipe for Mama Panya's pancakes. Age 3+

 

"Ashanti to Zulu" presents 26 African tribes, from A to Z, and lets children learn something about the culture and customs of each one. Aside from being a learning experience, the book is visually eye-popping; the illustrations are so gorgeous you'll want to blow them up and frame them. The book won a well-deserved Caldecott Medal for the best illustrated children's book of 1977. It's a great book for helping children to learn about some of the cultures of Africa. Age 3+

No 1 Car spotter is a delightful story by Atinuke about a Nigerian boy called Oluwalase Babatunde Benson. He's the Number 1 car spotter in his village. The Number 1 car spotter in the world! The start of an exciting new series about the irresistible Number 1, whose hobby is car spotting but who is good at solving all sorts of problems for his village. Age 4+

A picture book biography of Sundiata, the founder of the Mali empire. The narrative has the distinctive, if somewhat mystical flow of an oral history given by an African storyteller. It's beautifully illustrated and displays the rich culture of Mali. Certainly one to add to your little ones library. 3+

The Ghanaian Goldilocks is wonderful retelling of a classic fable from a Ghanaian perspective. The story revolves around the adventures of a light haired boy called Kofi who is fondly referred to by his friends and family as Goldilocks.  Wonderfully illustrated the Ghanaian Goldilocks explores every day life in Ghana and teaches children about morals. Age +3

 

When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family's life forever: he could build a windmill. Retold for a younger audience, this exciting memoir shows how, even in a desperate situation, one boy's brilliant idea can light up the world.

Swahili Folklore is a collection of nursery rhymes, songs and 20 Swahili folk tales translated into English. Author and poet Gloria D. Gonsalves compiled these stories that are orally told to children in her hometown in Tanzania so that future generations can enjoy them in written form.

How the Leopard Got His Claws is a dark African fable by the African literary giant Chinue Achebe. The tale is about a group of animals who work together to build a shelter. Leopard who is the leader of the animals is chased out by Dog who takes his throne. Furious with rage Leopard visit's a blacksmith's forge and returns to regain his throne by brandishing his own new threatening new claws. The fable teaches children the potency and dangers of power taken by force. 

Mayowa is not pleased that has been told that he has to visit his grandmother in Ilisan. When he gets there, grandma pairs him up with the ever hungry, fun-loving Denuyi. Together, they explore the town and all its wonders including meeting some masquerades.

In this lighthearted and fun children’s book, young readers get to join six-year-old Cheta and her best friend, Kosi, as they attend the wedding of Kosi’s cousin. Delighted to each wear her own stunning, specially designed dress, the girls can hardly contain their excitement as they experience the lavish festivities and witness the captivating rituals that are part of both their families’ African heritage

This educational reader combines fascinating facts and colorful pictures as it travels across the sprawling continent of Africa. Discover animals, plants, the places people live, and the musical instruments they play while you learn the alphabet one letter at a time.

As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something—and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans. This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman’s passion, vision, and determination inspired great change.

In this Caldecott Medal winner, Mosquito tells a story that causes a jungle disaster.

Preye is fed up with tripping over the plastic that everyone throws on the ground. He and his friend Obinna decide to do something about it. But can a group of children really make a difference?

It's Princess Arabella’s birthday. She wants a very special present. But will she get what she wants? A happy story about birthdays!

Virginia Dike’s delightful children’s book will help youngsters learn to identify the 25 most common West African birds. Beautifully illustrated by Robin Gowen with lush, poetic descriptions of each bird, the book has tips for encouraging birds to visit compounds, a bird-watching guide, and suggestions for parents and teachers. There is no better way to inspire a love of nature in the youngest minds.

Posted on June 18, 2015 .