My Favorite African Books for Young People

Today, we will talk about some inspirational African books needed at home and in your classroom. There are many false narratives about African culture, and I wanted to showcase lots of positive images and relevant stories about the vast tapestry of African life in our stories.

For me telling stories is as natural as breathing. I’m a storyteller at heart, and I grew up listening to my mother share her favorite Anansi the spider stories, or she and many Liberians would call him Spider. This story sparked a love to search for more stories about our wide variety of African stories, both fiction and nonfiction. Understanding one’s story gives you a deeper understanding of who we all are in this human experience. I’m going to share my favorite African storybooks that you can grab today. No, I’m not getting any special commission or affiliation. I have to share with you to find a copy and share it with your classroom and your families.

My K-2 Crew, I love. We all went on safari by Laurie Krebs & Julia Cairns. It’s a great counting in Swahili book to help students get familiar with learning a new language. Which ties into Jambo means hello by Muriel & Tom Feelings. I genuinely like this Swahili alphabet book because it shows ordinary daily life with words and phrases spoken in Swahili. Boundless Gracy by Mary Hoffman is a great story of our Favorite character, Grace from Amazing Grace, who goes on a journey to visit her father in The Gambia.

For my 3-5 kids, I’d recommend One Hen by Katie Smith Milway, which shows the framework of how microloans work and how sustainable it can be with our main character Kojo purchasing a hen to support his family in Ghana. I also love Ashanti to Zulu African traditions by Leo & Dianne Dillon, which showcases 26 different African ethnic groups and their cultural values. Bonus my ethnic group Vai is featured in the book. I tell you, representation is so important.

For Middle to High School students, this book series Kings & Queens of North, Central, East, and West Africa by Sylviane Anna Diouf gives a great depth of cultural traditions and royalty that many of our students don’t know. Another great read, Of Beetles & Angels: A boy’s remarkable journey from a refugee camp to Harvard by Mawi Asgedom, is an inspiring memoir that every High school student should read. This book will give you the feeling that anything is possible. I just wanted to share with you some of my favorite titles. I’ll have the reference list in my show notes that you can download and search independently. I also created lesson plans that go along with these books. Some are in the process, so keep a lookout as well.