I might not be able to visit the sunny plains, vast deserts, or dusty roads of Africa but through books, I can take my children on an African safari. I love that books help my children see life through the eyes of another child. A library card is much cheaper than plane tickets.
Here a list of some of our favorite children's books set in Africa. Except for the last book on this list, these are all picture books.
Babu’s Song by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, illustrated by Aaron Boyd
Bernardi longs to go to school where he can play soccer every day, but he and his grandfather have no money for school. When an unexpected source for money appears, Bernardi has to choose how to use it. A sweet tale of family love set in Tanzania.
Where Are You Going Manyoni? written and illustrated by Catherine Stock
Colorful water-color paintings take you on a journey in the Zimbabwe bush as you follow Manyoni through the African veld on her way to school. Excellent examples of the camouflage that animals use to hide.
Handa's Surprise, written and illustrated by Eileen Browne
Handa prepares some fruit for her friend, but along the way Kenyan animals help themselves. A fun story for young children introducing both African fruit and animals with delightful illustrations.
Planting the Trees of Kenya:The Story of Wangari Maathai, written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola Wangari was appalled at the destruction of trees in Kenya and started the Green Belt Movement. This is the true story, told with watercolors, of the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
At the Crossroads, written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora
“Our fathers are coming home,” sing the children as they wait at the crossroads. But when will they arrive? From the segregated townships of South Africa comes the story of family reunions after long months of separation.
Rain School, written and illustrated by James Rumford
Thomas can't wait to go to school and learn to read, but first the school has to be built. Vibrant illustrations take you to the African country of Chad where children work hard for the privilege of attending school.
Galimoto by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Catherine Stock
Seven-year-old Kondi wants to make his own galimoto and through perseverance, and the help of his neighbors in his Malawi village, he makes his own toy.
Beatrice's Goat by Page McBrier, illustrated by Lori Lohstoeter
In small Ugandan village, Beatrice tends her goat, the goat who has given her a new house and a chance for education. A sweet story with bright paintings that demonstrate how the gift of an animal can help lift a family out of poverty.
The Soccer Fence by Phil Bildner, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson
Hector loves to play soccer, but because of the apartheid in South Africa, he can't play with the white boys in the other part of the city. A gentle story which tells the story of the 1990s and how soccer brought the people of South Africa together.
Akimbo and the Crocodile Man by Alexander McCall Smith
Life is never boring for Akimbo since his father is a ranger at a wildlife preserve in Kenya. But when Akimbo volunteers to help a crocodile scientist, he gets more adventure than he expects. This, and the other books in the Akimbo series, have short chapters, perfect for beginning readers who want to learn about Africa's wildlife through exciting stories.
Where are you traveling through books this winter?
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