Best Children's Books About Africa

16 Children's Books About Africa

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
Mosquitoes Don't Bite Me book
#1
Mosquitoes Don't Bite Me
Written by Pendred Noyce
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Mosquitoes don't bite Nala Simiyu. It's part of who she is, like being a half-Kenyan seventh-grader whose mother is in a wheelchair. But when a schoolmate's father--who happens to head up a large drug company--learns of Nala's special power, the excitement begins. Nala has the chance to travel to Kenya to investigate mosquitoes' reactions to her father's family. All goes well until a man heartbroken by his daughter's death from malaria kidnaps Nala. In the midst of a realistic adventure story, this book will introduce young readers to such dilemmas as health disparities, subtle racism, and who owns biological information. Brave, fallible, compassionate and spirited, Nala is a strongly relatable character in a loving, imperfect family.

Indestructibles: Mary Had a Little Lamb book
#2
Indestructibles: Mary Had a Little Lamb
Written by Amy Pixton and illustrated by Jonas Sickler
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

Here is a book babies can really sink their gums into. Built for the way babies read, Indestructibles are printed on an amazing paperlike material that can’t be ripped, torn, or punctured. Indestructibles are 100 percent safe and nontoxic, and if they get too funky, just throw them in the washing machine or dishwasher. They’re made for baby to hold, grab, chew, pull, and bend, and are designed to create an even more special bond between reader and baby. Printed without words, the parent gets to make up the story, or just cuddle with baby while they explore together. Mary Had a Little Lamb introduces the work of Jonas Sickler, a children’s illustrator whose paintings, full of detail and personality, have a fresh, whimsical sensibility, a pleasure for both baby and parents. The book gives a new spin on a traditional nursery rhyme, so parents can really have fun with the subject—Mary Had a Little Lamb follows a girl and her lamb in her village in Africa. The text for the nursery rhyme is printed on the back cover.

Indestructibles: Old MacDonald Had a Farm book
#3
Indestructibles: Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Written by Amy Pixton and illustrated by Jonas Sickler
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

Indestructibles are the 100 percent baby proof, chew proof, rip proof, completely washable, and nontoxic series of books. Books built for the way babies read, Indestructibles are printed on an amazing nontoxic, paperlike material that holds up to endless chewing, gumming, gnawing, grabbing, bending, and pulling. Then, once the books get dirty, parents can throw them in a dishwasher or washing machine to make them clean as new. The title is adapted from classic nursery rhymes and illustrated by Jonas Sickler. Sickler’s paintings are whimsical and fun, filled with dazzling textures and eye-popping color. They will grab and keep a baby’s attention, and delight adults. The book offers a multicultural twist on a classic nursery rhyme -- Old MacDonald Has a Farm, set in Bolivia is full of llamas, alpacas, sheep, and cows. The text for the nursery rhyme is printed on the back cover.

The Water Princess book
#4
The Water Princess
Written by Georgie Badiel, Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H Reynolds
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village 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. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own. Inspired by the childhood of African–born model Georgie Badiel, acclaimed author Susan Verde and award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have come together to tell this moving story. As a child in Burkina Faso, Georgie and the other girls in her village had to walk for miles each day to collect water. This vibrant, engaging picture book sheds light on this struggle that continues all over the world today, instilling hope for a future when all children will have access to clean drinking water.

Salamatu and Kandoni Go Missing book
#5
Salamatu and Kandoni Go Missing
Written by Steve Brace and illustrated by Annie Kubler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Salamatu's goat follows her to school, leading to a series of misadventures. Provides an insight into life in Ghana and allows comparisons to our own country. Published in conjunction with Action Aid.

The Spider Sapphire Mystery book
#6
The Spider Sapphire Mystery
Written by Carolyn Keene
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Thrilling, dangerous adventures confront Nancy Drew while on a safari in East Africa with a group of American college students. Excitement runs high as the teen-age detective delves into the theft of a fabulous sapphire formed by nature millions of years ago. The mystery starts in Nancy’s home town. Her lawyer father’s client, Floyd Ramsay, who fashions beautiful and unusual synthetic gems, is accused of stealing the magnificent spider sapphire and exhibiting it as his own creation. Mr. Ramsay’s enemies blackmail him and by their vicious acts try to deter Nancy from going on the safari. Readers will join Nancy as she uncovers a nefarious scheme and solves the strange disappearance of an injured jungle guide.

The Mysterious Caravan book
#7
The Mysterious Caravan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When the Hardy Boys take a winter vacation in Jamaica, Joe finds an ancient bronze death mask washed up near their beach house during a violent storm. Helping the Hardys and their friends in this bizarre mystery is William, a Jamaican boy, who flies to New York with startling news, only to be intercepted and held for ransom—the death mask! Frank and Joe must rescue William, plunge into their father’s airline-ticket theft case, and fly into a maze of danger in Africa.

Wangari's Trees of Peace book
#8
Wangari's Trees of Peace
Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A paperback picture book based on the true story of Wangari Maathai, an environmental and political activist in Kenya and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. As a young girl growing up in Kenya, Wangari was surrounded by trees. But years later when she returns home, she is shocked to see whole forests being cut down, and she knows that soon all the trees will be destroyed. So Wangari decides to do something--and starts by planting nine seedlings in her own backyard. And as they grow, so do her plans . . . This true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a shining example of how one woman's passion, vision, and determination inspired great change. Includes an author's note.

The Wild Beast book
#9
The Wild Beast
Written by Eric Walters and illustrated by Sue Todd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Inspired by a story told to the author while on safari in 2015, The Wild Beast describes the creation of one of Africa’s most unusual animals, the wildebeest. According to oral tradition, the Creator built this unique beast out of leftover parts from other magnificent animals found on the continent. Horns from buffalos and stripes meant for zebras.Tails from giraffes and bumps meant for camels.This creative retelling will introduce little ones to a story rich in both imagery and in lesson: Take what you need to live. Take no more. Waste nothing.

An African Alphabet book
#10
An African Alphabet
Written by Eric Walters and illustrated by Sue Todd
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

An African Alphabet is a vibrant ABC book that introduces babies and toddlers to the unique variety of animals found in Africa. An alphabet for all ages, the stunning linocut artwork brings an uncommon selection of critters to life in this lively concept book. From aardvark to zebra and all that's in between, little ones will love learning their alphabet with these colorful creatures.

Jack and the Wild Life book
#11
Jack and the Wild Life
Written by Lisa Doan and illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

After a wild plan by his parents left Jack stranded in the Caribbean, the Berenson family decided to lay out some rules. Jack's mom and dad agreed they wouldn't take so many risks. Jack agreed he'd try to live life without worrying quite so much. Then Jack's parents thought up another get-rich-quick scheme. Now the family's driving around Kenya. An animal attack is about to send Jack up a tree—alone, with limited supplies. As Jack attempts to outsmart a ferocious honey badger and keep away from an angry elephant, he'll have plenty of time to wonder if the Berenson Family Decision-Making Rules did enough to keep him out of trouble.

The Story of Kwanzaa book
#12
The Story of Kwanzaa
Written by Donna L. Washington and illustrated by Stephen Taylor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s Kwanzaa-time! Light the candles on the kinara! Fly the bendera, and tell stories from Africa! The festival of Kwanzaa was originated by Dr. Maulana Karenga to honor the customs and history of African Americans. The seven principles of Kwanzaa, called the Nguzo Saba, serve to remind African Americans of the struggles of the past, and also focus on present-day achievements and goals for the future. Activities at the end of the book include making your own cow-tail switch and baking benne cakes.

Seven Spools of Thread book
#13
Seven Spools of Thread
Written by Angela Shelf Medearis and illustrated by Daniel Minter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

In an African village live seven brothers who make family life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread. If they fail, they will be turned out as beggars.

The Magic Bojabi Tree  book
#14
The Magic Bojabi Tree
Written by Dianne Hofmeyr and illustrated by Piet Grobler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Python has wrapped himself around the melon/mango/pomegranate tree with its delicious fruit, and he won't share the fruit unless the animals can tell him the correct name of the tree. Elephant, Monkey and Zebra each in turn visit Lion, who alone knows the name of the tree. But every time, the animals forget the name on the journey back to the tree. Then Tortoise, the slowest, smallest animal goes to Lion - and sings a special song to remind him of the name. It is the Bojabi Tree! Python unwraps himself from the trunk, and all the animals share a feast.

Grandpa Cacao book
#15
Grandpa Cacao
Written and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

This beautifully illustrated story connects past and present as a girl bakes a chocolate cake with her father and learns about her grandfather harvesting cacao beans in West Africa. Chocolate is the perfect treat, everywhere! As a little girl and her father bake her birthday cake together, Daddy tells the story of her Grandpa Cacao, a farmer from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. In a land where elephants roam and the air is hot and damp, Grandpa Cacao worked in his village to harvest cacao, the most important ingredient in chocolate. "Chocolate is a gift to you from Grandpa Cacao," Daddy says. "We can only enjoy chocolate treats thanks to farmers like him." Once the cake is baked, it's ready to eat, but this isn't her only birthday present. There's a special surprise waiting at the front door . . .

Juliane's Story book
#16
Juliane's Story
Written and illustrated by Andy Glynne
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-9

This is the real-life story of 12-year-old refugee Juliane. At 3 years old, Juliane was separated from her mother due to the violence in her country of Zimbabwe. Told in Juliane's own words, the story tells of her fear and isolation growing up in an orphanage, how she was reunited with her mother, and how the two of them fled to another country to establish a new life together.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.