Booklist: Children's Books about Africa
Africa is a large and diverse continent with over a billion people including thousands of different cultural groups and indigenous languages. From stretches of desert and mighty mountains to impressive waterfalls and wonderful wildlife, the geography of Africa offers much to explore, as does the history of its people from ancient times to the rich diversity of its modern population. We've put together a list of children's books to help young explorers studying the topic of Africa...
Journey to Jo'burg
This thought-provoking novel is set in South Africa in the time of Apartheid. The gripping and empathetic story will draw pupils into engaging imaginatively with what life would have been like for families living during this time of racial segregation. A very popular choice for upper KS2.
The Akimbo Adventures
Alexander McCall Smith
This book contains three stories about nature at its most wild and thrilling. Akimbo lives on the edge of an African game reserve where he helps his father to protect the animals in their natural habitat. In these adventures he saves elephants from sneaky poachers, rescues a trapped lion cub and saves a man from the jaws of a crocodile. Highly recommended for KS2.
Lila and the Secret of Rain
David Conway & Jude Daly
This is a beautiful picture book that depicts a Kenyan village during a drought. Rain has not come down for months and the sun beats hard on the villagers, affecting the people, plants and animals. When a young girl called Lila hears a story from her grandfather about the secret of making the rain come back, she sets about on her own quest to save her village.
Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country
Atinuke & Mouni Feddag
This non-fiction book is British-Nigerian storyteller Atinuke's personal love letter to the African continent, and its 55 countries in all their variety. It divides Africa into five sections: South, East, West, Central and North, each with its own introduction. This is followed by a page per country, containing a delightful mix of friendly, informative text and colourful illustrations.
One Day on our Blue Planet: In the Savannah
Part of the popular 'One Day on our Blue Planet' series, this beautifully illustrated picture book charts the wildlife in the Savannah across the course of a whole day. Informative and visually appealing with accessible text, this non-fiction series is a winner for KS1 classrooms.
This picture book charts the journey of a girl called Handa as she carries fruit to her friend in a neighbouring village. Little does Handa realise that along the way there are animals that have also got their eyes on the lovely fruit in her basket. A fun and colourful story that is a hugely popular choice in EYFS.
Catch that Chicken
Atinuke & Angela Brooksbank
Lami loves chickens. She's the best chicken catcher in the village. She's fast, she's brave and she always catches that chicken. Until the day she chases one up the baobab tree, slips ... and falls. How can she catch chickens with a sore ankle? Could there be another way to catch that chicken?
Told with great humour by Nigerian storyteller, Atinuke, this story of the headstrong, impetuous Lami will strike a chord with all children. The gentle message - to use quick thinking not just quick running - gives an incredibly satisfying ending, while Angela Brooksbank's beautiful artwork captures the energy and the beauty of the West African setting perfectly.
Living in Africa: Nigeria
A simple, friendly geography series that takes a look at countries around the world. Welcome to Nigeria! In this book, young readers tell you all about what makes their country special, from its great capital city, to the landscape, people, food and things to see and do. This series introduces young readers to different continents and countries around the world, highlighting the differences and similarities between them.
Clear, friendly text and big photos make these books a great starting point for learning about geography in general, and countries in particular.
The Butterfly Lion
This novel, by the popular children's author Michael Morpurgo, is the inspirational tale of a young boy called Bertie, who grows up in Africa and befriends a white lion cub. Will their friendship last over time when they are both sent abroad? This is a text that will starkly contrast the wild plains of Africa to the setting of a stiff boarding school in England, and the moving storyline will have pupils hanging onto your every word.
Short chapter book
Anna Hibiscus is a young girl who lives in an African city with her family. This early chapter book is an excellent choice for KS1 and the story collection offers a window into what everyday life might look like for one child growing up in one part of amazing Africa.
The White Giraffe
Lauren St John
This is the first novel in Lauren St John's popular series. When a young English girl called Martine moves to live with her grandmother on a South African game reserve, she finds herself feeling lonely and isolated. One night she sees a mysterious silver giraffe and as she begins to befriend it, a thrilling mystery begins to unravel.
Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya
Donna Jo Napoli & Kadir Nelson
Through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, this picturebook tells the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as "Mama Miti," who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement - an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation.
Today, more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti's native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree-and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future.
Long Walk to Freedom: Illustrated Children's Edition
Nelson Mandela , Chris Van & Paddy Bouma
This is a children's edition of 'Long Walk to Freedom', the famous biography of Nelson Mandela. Follow his inspiring story, from his childhood to his presidency to his passionate campaigns for justice and freedom.
The Fastest Boy in the World
This is the story of a young Ethiopian boy called Solomon, who has a passion for running. He dreams of becoming a medal-winning athlete. Little does he know that soon he will need to run with all his might in a race to save his grandfather's life. This inspiring story was shortlisted for the prestigious Carnegie Medal.
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Cities of Africa
Liz Gogerly & Victor Beuren
This series offers readers an engaging and visually exciting look at some of the world's major cities. Cityscapes draw in the reader with facts about the iconic buildings that help to shape each city's unique identity. Data-packed pages give the essential details about each featured city, including where to go, what to do and things to eat on a visit, as well as information about the city's history. The cities of Africa covered in the book include Lagos, Cairo, Kampala, Nairobi, Algiers, Yamoussoukro, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Marakesh, Maputo, Tripoli, Harare, Monrovia, Las Palmas, Tunis, Windhoek, Antananarivo, and Johannesburg.
Anansi and the Golden Pot
Taiye Selasi & Tinuke Fagborun
Anansi is a trickster character from traditional Wedst African folklore. This picturebook reimagines the story of Anansi for a new generation. Kweku has grown up hearing stories about the mischievous spider Anansi. He is given the nickname Anansi by his father because of his similarly cheeky ways. On a holiday to visit his beloved Grandma in Ghana, Anansi the spider and Anansi the boy meet, and discover a magical pot that can be filled with whatever they want. Anansi fills it again and again with his favourite red-red stew, and eats so much that he feels sick. Will he learn to share this wonderful gift?
This charming retelling of a West African story teaches readers about the dangers of greed, and the importance of being kind. Tinuke Fagborun's colourful illustrations bring the magic and wonder of the tale to life.
Expedition Diaries: African Savannah
A scrapbook-style diary recording an expedition through the Africa Savannah. Simon is journeying through Botswana, in southern Africa, through the wetlands of the Okavango Delta towards the open savannah and semi-desert of Namibia. The whole area is a biodiversity hotspot. Simon is documenting his journey, and there's one animal that he particularly wants to see more than any other: a black rhino.
Simon Chapman, winner of the Blue Peter Book Award, brings geography to life, and his Expedition Diaries are a great way to introduce the world's biomes and habitats to children, direct from someone who's actually been in them - sometimes up to his neck! These books are perfect for sparking interest in this key school topic.