This list is for parents looking to enrich their children’s reading with books that explore diverse African experiences. Generally, books are important in the lives of children. Like their bodies, the minds of children are growing rapidly, and books are a great source of imaginative nourishment. Books delight their sense of adventure, feed their curiosity, nurture a positive self-image while instilling valuable lessons about life. We’ve put together a list of books by African writers that do all that and more. These writers represent diverse Africa countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Malawi, Tunisia, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, and more.
Every book here has been hand-picked for the powerful story it conveys and the beautiful, colorful illustrations featured. Sihle Nontshokweni’s Wanda and Lupita Nyongo’s Sulwe are beautiful stories about self-love. Africa’s most celebrated magical realist author Ben Okri teams up with illustrator Diana Ejaita on Every Leaf A Hallelujah, which along with Margaret Muthee’s Forest of the Future, enlightens children about climate change.
Some of the best children’s books celebrate family. Moroccan author Amina Hachimi Alaoui’s Alya and Three Cats and Mylo Freeman’s Princess Arabella is a Big Sister help children adjust to having a new sibling. Oge Mora’s Thank You, Omu! is an Igbo-inspired story that celebrates food and community while filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu’s The Wooden Camel looks at how to find joy in one’s family in spite of having very little in life.
A huge thank you to The Africa Center for sponsoring the list. We hope it brings you and your children lots of fun.