10 Best Children’S Books About Africa Update 05/2022

When my kids learned about Ghana in 2nd grade, one thing that bothered their teachers was that the kids thought Ghana was a country. They didn’t get to see or learn that Ghana has cities.

When I couldn’t find enough books about Ghana to make a book list of them all, I’ve included picture books set in The Gambia, Mauritania and other countries. They all have different diversity themes.

Top 10 picture books about Africa

Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch

Grace’s parents split up. Her father moves to Africa and starts a new family there. A lot of Grace’s nerves come from going to The Gambia with her grandma. It’s a lot different from what Grace is used to. There are sheep on the roadside and open-air stalls in the market.

She doesn’t feel like she fits in at first, but her stepfamily is very nice to her. A book doesn’t show her how to have a normal family, but her own isn’t what she sees in them. picture book for ages 4 and up

Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

Mauritania is in West Africa and the people there are all Muslims. The women wear the malafa. Because she wants to look like everyone else, or to be mysterious, or to look like royalty. It’s not for any of those things. When Lalla hears the call to prayer at night, she realizes that the malafa is so that she can pray like the other people.

She then gets her own malafa so she can go to the mosque with her mother. A malafa is for trust! picture book for ages 4 and up

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli

Wangari Muta Maathai was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on sustainable development, democracy, and peace. She changed Kenya tree by tree, and she was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

This beautiful picture book tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai and how she started the Green Belt Movement, which is an African grassroots group that helps people fight deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation. Today, more than 30 million trees have been planted in Mama Miti’s home country of Kenya. picture book for ages 4 and up

Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Catherine Stock

Kondi, a 7-year-old boy, is persistent and clever when he goes out to find wire to make a galimoto. His job is to get wire. He trades, asks for it and looks for it. He also bargains with people and scavenges. Finally, he’s ready to start building his toy pick-up.

It takes him all afternoon, but his car is done in time for his friends to play by the moonlight. Tomorrow, he thinks he’ll use the wires to make something else. An ambulance is on the way. A plane? What kind of plane is this? Toys in Malawi don’t come in boxes from stores, so this story shows how people live today in a village. With a little ingenuity, persistence, and creativity, you can do anything you want. picture book for ages 4 and up

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls

In Ghana, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born with a condition that made it hard for him to walk. This is the true story of how he became one of the most important people in the world. In spite of having just one leg, his mother told him to go for his dreams and made sure he went to school even though he had to hop two miles each way.

When he was young, he learned how to play soccer and how to ride a bicycle. He left home when he was thirteen to help his family. This is what he did. As time went on, the man rode a bicycle across his whole country with just one leg, becoming a hero for his people. He still works for the disabled in his country, and he tries to show that being disabled doesn’t mean you can’t do things. picture book for ages 4 and up

I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Penda Diakite, illustrated by Baba Wague Diakite

Amina and her family are flying to Mali to see some of their friends. As a reward, the African Tooth Fairy will give her a chicken if she loses a tooth there. She gets two chickens during her trip. She even gets to watch her chickens lay eggs!

At the age of eight, Penda Diakite wrote this story about a trip to Mali that she took. It was her father who made the bright ceramic tile drawings. Everyday life in a village in Africa is shown, along with family traditions like greeting each other in the morning and giving each other a good morning. During this story, Mali’s rich culture shines through. It shows how close-knit a family is on two continents. picture book for ages 4 and up

Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier, illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter

Her family can’t afford to buy a uniform or books for Beatrice, who is nine years old. She wants to go to school, but they can’t afford to pay for it. Then one day, she gets a goat as a gift. It changes her life. When she gets a goat, she doesn’t think about how much work it will be to build a shed and plant a field.

She and her goat will have to walk a long way to get water. As time goes on, the money from milk sales grows. Beatrice can go to school for the first time in a long time. picture book for ages 4 and up There’s a link to Heifer International on this page if anyone wants to learn more about how Beatrice got her goat. For kids to learn that they can make a difference, you might want to start a Read To Feed fundraising program at your school.

One PlasticBag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambiaby Miranda Paul, illustrated byElizabeth Zunon

This book is written and illustrated by Miranda Paul. Plastic bags are all over the ground in The Gambia, which is bad for both people and animals. The goats die because they eat them, and mosquitoes grow because of the water they are kept in. They spread malaria. Isatou has a good idea. Isatou and her friends roll the plastic bags into spools of thread by cutting them into strips.

They learn how to crochet them into bags on their own. A few people in the village make fun of them, but the women win. There, they sell them. With this money, Isatou can buy a new goat for her grandmother. Besides, Isatou has set up a small business for women to help them make money and help her people be healthier and more self-sufficient. Ages 6 and up: [picture book],

Imani’s Moon by JaNay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Hazel Mitchell

When Imani is little, people make fun of her because of her size. But thanks to the African folk tales that she gets from her Maasai mother, Imani grows up with big dreams.

Anansi was a small spider that caught a snake. Olapa was the goddess of the moon and she beat the sun god. That’s not what inspires Imani, though. It’s the older boys who do adumu, the jumping dance, that she likes best. She thinks she can jump, jump, jump high into the sky to get to the moon. Because she has faith in herself, she does just that! picture book for ages 4 and up They live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, which are both in East Africa.

My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa Mollel and E. B. Lewis

At the market in Tanzania, Saruni helps his mother push an old wheelbarrow full of goods with his help. His mother gives him money for helping, but he isn’t interested in toys or sweets at the market. A bicycle would help him help his mother on market day.

When he goes to buy a bike, he’s disappointed to learn that he doesn’t have enough money. His mother is moved by his kind act. In exchange for his savings, Saruni can buy his father’s old bike from him. picture book for ages 4 and up

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