It was at university with the pan-African associative movements and my Master’s degree in “Africa and Globalization” that I discovered the rich African past and became aware of my cultural alienation. I knew more about the history of France, Great Britain and Belgium than that of Cameroon and I realized that the books of my childhood had largely contributed to it. I realized that children’s and youth literature was a powerful tool for building the imagination and identity of young Africans, for reducing illegal immigration and low civic and patriotic awareness. But I realized with regret that African children’s books were little known and accessible. The authors of books for adults were more publicized, celebrated and promoted than those of children’s literature, which was considered a marginal field, a ghetto or a sector of little interest reserved for amateur authors.
From the 9th to 12 September 2021, Muna Kalati was represented through its Director Christian Elongué at the 37th Ibby Children’s Book International Congress In Moscow, under the theme «Great Big World Through Children’s Books: National and Foreign Literature — Role, Value, Impact on Young Readers in Different Countries». It was an opportunity to explore diversity of themes, characters, issues in children’s literature of the world, to discuss cultural variety which doesn’t prevent them from interweaving and interacting.
Christian Elongué, our executive Director, is one of 30 literacy leaders named to the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) 2021 30 Under 30 list. The global list celebrates rising innovators, disruptors and visionaries in the literacy field. Christian Elongué is an author and researcher on children and young adult literature. Dismayed by a lack of black characters in books available to African children, Christian founded munakalati.org in 2017 with the goal of building international recognition for African children’s book authors and increasing access to African children books.
Travel the world with your children through these beautiful children’s books about West Africa! Below you will find picture books about Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. They range from biographies and folk tales to modern stories about life in West Africa today. Share your favorites in the comments!
The low literacy rate in Africa can be attributed to a few things: lack of adequate teacher training and overall investment in training, where teachers teach what they were taught as children rather than keeping up with the evolution of education, access to tools and reading resources for children as a result of poverty, and poor school literacy programs and curriculum planning.
There are, however, organizations and creative initiatives that have taken the future of Africa’s children into their own hands. These spaces have prioritised children’s education in literacy and are empowering little ones across the continent with books.
These are just five of the organisations that are teaching Africa’s children to read, and how you can help them.
Skin We Are In is a landmark South African book for children (and grown-ups) on the subject of skin colour. Published in 2018, it was co-authored by an artist and a scientist, both South African luminaries – the author Sindiwe Magona and the anthropologist and palaeobiologist Nina Jablonski. Here they talk about how – and why – the book came about.
Beyond just encouraging her daughter to read, Victorine also created the enabling environment at home,