This list is based on books reviewed and recommended by Africa Access. Visit their website for a detailed database with critiques of hundreds of children's books and texts on Africa. Also, check out their annual Children’s Africana Book Award.
Titles that we recommend are featured below with cover images. The ones with reviews are noted with an asterisk (*). Some titles are recommended with a caveat. At the end of this page, we provide a list of titles on this theme, with reviews, that we do not recommend.
Elementary | Middle | Young Adult | Adult | Organizations & Articles
Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books
By Karen Leggett Abouraya and Susan L. Roth (Illustrator)
Mama Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song
By Kathryn Erskine, Charly Palmer (Illustrator)
One Wish: Fatima Al-Fihri and the World's Oldest University *
By M. O. Yuksel and Mariam Quraishi (Illustrator)
Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees
By Nathalie Soussana, Jean-Christophe Hoarau (Another primary creator), Judith Gueyfier (Illustrator)
When I Get Older: The Story Behind "Wavin' Flag"*
By K'Naan with Sol Guy, Rudy Gutierrez (Illustrator)
Once Upon a Time in Ghana: Traditional Ewe Stories Retold in English
By Anna Cottrell, Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah
Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora
By Linda M. Heywood (Editor), Jan Vansina (Foreword by)
Organizations and Articles
- An excellent reading for teachers and parents to discuss is I Didn't Know There Were Cities in Africa! (Teaching Tolerance, Fall 2008). Submitted by Teaching for Change in collaboration with Africa Access, this article critiques the stereotypes in popular children's books and films, helps educators reflect on their own classroom, and provides a list of recommended titles.
- Africa Access: Literature recommendations, student research projects, and a detailed database with critiques of hundreds of children's books and texts on Africa. Coordinates the annual Children’s Africana Book Award.
- African Studies K-12 Outreach Programs: University based programs which provide resources and professional development for teachers.
- H-AfrTeach: A discussion list which provides a forum on teaching about Africa at all educational levels.
- Masifunde Sonke Book Project: An education initiative of South Africa Partners promotes children’s literature from the new South Africa. For each book purchased in the United States, South Africa Partners donates a second copy of the same book to a rural or township school in South Africa.
- What Do We Want Children to Learn About Africa? This short article by Margy Burns Knight shares disturbing examples of how contemporary resources for children, including a National Geographic classroom poster, exotify Africans. The article includes the outline for a professional development activity.
- The Banana-Leaf Ball by Katie Smith Milway
- Gbagbe by Robtel Neajai Pailey
- The Mangrove Tree by Cindy Trumbore, Susan L. Roth
- Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson
Learn about our criteria for selecting titles at Social Justice Books. Feedback on these lists and suggestions for additional titles are welcome.
Most of the books on these lists are linked for more information or purchase to Bookshop (an indie bookstore platform) and / or Powells.com (an independent, unionized bookstore). A small percentage from book sales through these links goes to Teaching for Change.