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Whether you’re studying Africa in your geography classes or you’re studying African folktales in language arts, these picture books about Africa are sure to engage your students from page one!
I always try to incorporate at least one engaging picture book in every history and science lesson. They are perfect for grabbing the attention of kids of all ages while helping demonstrate concepts you want to touch on in your lessons.
These picture books are all based in Africa. Many demonstrate daily life in different countries throughout Africa. Others are simply African folktales that explain why the world is the way it is. All are sure to captivate readers in both elementary and upper grades.
Picture Books About Africa
Below, I’ve featured just a handful of picture books that will help your children learn about more about life in Africa.
You should be able to find them at your local library or book store. If you can’t find them locally, you can click each image cover to purchase them on Amazon.
One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia – The inspiring true story of how one African woman began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale – This African folk tale, told with award-winning graphics and narration reminiscent of the traditional village storyteller, is the story of how a tale passes from animal to animal, creating a jungle disaster.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Picture Book Edition – Lyrically told and gloriously illustrated, this story will inspire many as it shows how – even in the worst of times – a great idea and a lot of hard work can still rock the world.
Safari: A Photicular Book – Animals in living motion, as real as if you were there. The cheetah bounds, the lion charges. The African elephant snaps its ears.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah – Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.
Abiyoyo – No one wants to hear the little boy play his ukelele anymore…Clink, clunk, clonk. And no one wants to watch his father make things disappear…Zoop! Zoop! Until the day the fearsome giant Abiyoyo suddenly appears in town, and all the townspeople run for their lives and the lives of their children! Nothing can stop the terrible giant Abiyoyo, nothing, that is, except the enchanting sound of the ukelele and the mysterious power of the magic wand.
The Water Princess – With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer.
The Princess and the Pea – When a prince sets out to find a princess to marry, he soon discovers this is not a simple task. There is no shortage of so-called princesses, but how can he tell whether or not they are what they claim to be? Then one night a great storm rages, there comes a knock on the palace gate, and the prince’s life is never the same . . .
Safari, So Good!: All About African Wildlife – Young readers will learn how animals are either predators or prey, that elephants tend to favor one tusk over the other, how to tell the difference between a white and black rhino (both of which are grey!), that lion cubs are born covered with spots that soon disapear, and much, much more!
Doctor De Soto Goes to Africa – Dr. DeSoto is summoned by cablegram to Africa to aid Mudambo, an elephant with an unbearable toothache.
Why The Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale – The sky was once so close to the Earth that people cut parts of it to eat, but their waste and greed caused the sky to move far away.
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti – In this traditional Ashanti tale, Anansi sets out on a long, difficult journey. Threatened by Fish and Falcon, he is saved from terrible fates by his sons. But which of his sons should Anansi reward? Calling upon Nyame, the God of All Things, Anansi solves his predicament in a touching and highly resourceful fashion.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters – Inspired by a traditional African folktale, this is the story of Mufaro, who is proud of his two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but everyone—except Mufaro—knows that Manyara is selfish and bad-tempered. When the Great King decides to take a wife and invites the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear before him, Mufaro brings both of his daughters—but only one can be queen. Who will the king choose?
A Story, A Story – Once, all the stories in the world belonged to Nyame, the Sky God. He kept them in a box beside his throne. But Ananse, the Spider man, wanted them — and caught three sly creatures to get them. This story of how we got our own stories to tell is adapted from an African folktale.
Rain School – It is the first day of school in Chad, Africa. Children are filling the road. But when he and the other children arrive at the schoolyard, they find no classroom, no desks. Just a teacher. “We will build our school,” she says. “This is our first lesson.”
Round Out Your Unit with These Activities:
This EDITABLE Montessori set of 55 African map nomenclature 3-part cards is a fun, easy, and fast way to educate by playing with your toddlers, children or students! Create a unique gift for any special occasion!
These hand painted beechwood multicultural peg dolls are absolutely gorgeous! They are painted in traditional dress. Choose from one of several African dolls to help bring your favorite stories to life.