An important part of any child’s development is their reading. Every child has a vivid imagination, so fueling this can help them develop ideas that in effect help how they visualise the world. Furthermore, it helps them to build empathy and understanding about our world early on. Of course, reading is also a pivotal part of mastering a language.
While it’s important for everyone to read literature from around the world, if you are of African descent, it’s a great idea to give your child an understanding of the various cultures in the continent early in their life. This is especially important if you don’t live in the continent currently. With that being said, here are five African children’s books that we recommend.
Sosu’s Call won the 1999 UNESCO 1st prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature. It is also commonly listed as one of the top twelve titles of Africa’s 100 Best Books. But what is so good about this book? Well, it tells the story of Sosu, a disabled boy who can’t walk. Despite his disability, he is always around to aid his town when in need. People around him find that he has a great deal to contribute despite his physical limitations.
It’s important for our children to understand that there will always be limits to what you can do in life. But despite these limitations, you can still have the drive and determination to do what is best for yourself and those around you. This is what the story of Sosu’s Call teaches.
Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie
Aya of Yop City is set in Côte d’Ivoire during the 1970s. Yop City is a short name for the city of Yopougon-Koute. These stories are presented as a series of graphic novels based on a 19 year old heroine who is experiencing life one day at a time.
Reading Aya is like taking a trip through Yop City yourself, as it explains the sounds, sights, smells and tastes of a prosperous town in West Africa.
Chike and the River by Chinua Achebe
This story is about a 11 year old who wants nothing more than to cross the Niger river and get to Asaba, but unfortunately he doesn’t have the six-pence needed for the ferry. Chike then goes on a series of adventures to get across, and once he does, it opens up a whole new series of adventures for him.
This book has undeniable life lessons for young ones, like teaching them the value of money and how to work hard to make your goals happen.
Wangari’s Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But after leaving Kenya for a period of time, she is distraught to find entire forests being cut down. So Wangari takes it upon herself to do something about it and starts by planting nine seedings in her backyard. As they grow, so do her ideas.
What’s great about this story is that it teaches children to love their environment. To be aware of the changes happening around them, and to understand what they can do to preserve their natural habitat.
Masai and I by Virginia Kroll and Nancy Carpenter
Masai and I is about a young American girl who learns about East African culture and begins to imagine herself as a Masai. Her thoughts begin to weave between the two different cultures and as does the beautiful artwork, drawn by Nancy Carpenter.
This is a great book for African children who are part of the worldwide diaspora. It shows how having knowledge of your family roots can strengthen your individuality in the western ecosystem.