Picture Books Around the World: Africa

Today we are paying a visit to the diverse continent of Africa!

Picture Books about Africa

Africa is the world’s second-largest continent, and it is made up of 53 different countries. The books on this list highlight seven African countries: Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, and Uganda.

One HenOne Hen

[Ghana] When Kojo’s father dies, he must leave school to help earn money for his family. One day Kojo receives a small loan, which he uses to buy a hen. He uses the money he earns from selling the eggs to buy more hens, and eventually earns enough money to return to school. This inspiring, beautifully-illustrated book shows how one small bit of aid – when put to good use – can make a huge impact.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti PlainBringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

[Kenya] This book is a retelling of a traditional Nandi folktale. The enchanting story and rhythmic text make this an excellent read-aloud. Painterly illustrations depict the picturesque landscapes of Africa’s Kapiti Plain.

Mama Panya's PancakesMama Panya’s Pancakes

[Kenya] Mama Panya is planning a pancake dinner for her and her son, Adika, but when Adika invites all of their friends in the village, Mama worries that she won’t have enough to go around. Kids and adults will enjoy the universal message about the rewards of generosity.

For You are a Kenyan ChildFor You Are a Kenyan Child

[Kenya] This lively and vividly illustrated book follows a day in the life of a Kenyan boy. While the book deftly demonstrates Kenyan culture (and even includes some Swahili words) it also illuminates the similarities between Kenyan children and children all over the world.

I Lost My Tooth in AfricaI Lost My Tooth In Africa

[Mali] A young girl who is visiting relatives in Africa hopes that her loose tooth will fall out so she can leave it for the African tooth fairy. The book’s vibrant illustrations are the work of the author’s father, a Mali native.

Beatrice's GoatBeatrice’s Goat

[Uganda] In this uplifting book, a girl and her family receive a goat which they use to dramatically change their lives for the better. This story is based on the real-life organization Heifer International, through which families in developing countries receive donations of livestock that can help them lift themselves out of poverty.

The Boy Who Harnessed the WindThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

[Malawi] When his village is nearly destroyed by drought, a teenager builds a windmill to produce electricity and pump water. This book is gorgeously illustrated using a stunning combination of oil paint and cut paper.

At the CrossroadsAt the Crossroads

[South Africa] In a small town in South Africa, children gather in anticipation of the return of their fathers, who have been away for months working in the mines. The love that these children have for their fathers is universally recognizable, allowing children from any part of the world to relate to this story.

The Butter ManThe Butter Man

[Morocco] While a young girl waits eagerly for dinner, her father passes the time by sharing a story of his childhood in Morocco, and the time he spent waiting for his father to return home with food during a famine. The story is based on the personal experience of one of the authors.

15 Comments

  1. Oh gosh, I’m going to have to set aside time to go through your whole site and load up our library list!

  2. We love Mama Panaya’s Pancakes 🙂 I love the cover of Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.

    #kidlitbloghop

  3. Looks like a neat list. Just to clarify, are they all about modern Africa? It looked that way from your descriptions, but I wasn’t quite sure.

    My kids and I have been trying to read about Africa in the 17th century, as well as modern Africa. Partly we’re doing that because we’re learning about pirates, the slave trade and the 17th and 18th century, but partly I’m also trying to impress upon the kids that there were cultures and civilizations there before western influence. Some of the books about modern Africa we’ve read – like the One Hen – seem to celebrate Africa as though the good big thing there is the coming of western technology or charity.

    • Hi Christy! Yes, the books on this list all portray modern (20th and 21st century) Africa (except for “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain,” which is based on a folktale and could be set earlier). When I set out to create this series I looked for modern representations of each country, to fill my “armchair travel” requirements. 🙂

  4. Great list! Especially since Africa has been in our news so much lately. Thanks for hosting yet again!

  5. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews says:

    Great idea for a list Katie. I had a guest reviewer for “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” on our site so that one is familiar to me, but the rest are new. Thanks so much for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for hosting once again!

  6. Ok wow what a list, but I believe I must read For You Are A Kenyan Child, that one just stood out for me. Thanks for another great list on the Kid Lit Blog HOp

  7. stanleyandkatrina says:

    Fantastic list, as always! Thanks for sharing and co-hosting the KidLitBlogHop!
    ~Cool Mom for The Stanley & Katrina Gang

  8. These look like great books that provide a look at how people live in different African countries. I’d heard about the boy who built a windmill, but didn’t realize there was a book. Thanks so much for posting this list! I stopped by from the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  9. Echoing everyone here – what a fantastic round-up! I love this series and can’t wait to go through each list. As a teacher, I’m imagining all the ways to use this in the classroom!

  10. Love this list!! As always Katie you always find the best 🙂
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

  11. I am going to have to put some of these on our Library List. I am always excited to find good books that give my kids a broader world view! I’m so glad I found your site!

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