Best Kids Books About Africa

The Top 13 Children's Books About Africa

Updated Apr. 19, 2019

We "hear the drums echoing tonight" as we're reading all about Africa! These books are filled with bright illustrations, strong role models, and adventurous stories that will help you celebrate and learn more about Africa. Through reading, you'll be inspired by Africa's history, people, and culture.

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion book
#1
Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion
Written and illustrated by Alex T. Smith
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Little Red sets off to visit her auntie who is poorly. She walks under the giraffes, over the sleepy crocodiles, past the enormous elephants and the chattering monkeys. Then a Very Hungry Lion approaches Little Red, wanting to gobble her up. But despite all the cunning plans by Lion, Little Red outsmarts him and soon has him saying sorry and eating doughnuts instead.

Mama Panya's Pancakes book
#2
Mama Panya's Pancakes
Written by Rich Chamberlin, Mary Chamberlin and illustrated by Julia Cairns
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

How many people did we invite for pancakes tonight? Adika, skipping two steps ahead, sang his reply, All of our friends, Mama.

Wangari's Trees of Peace book
#3
Wangari's Trees of Peace
Written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This true story is inspiring. Wangari dares to do what hasn't ever been done and inspires women to help her plant trees in Kenya. Parents might want to know that this story does mention about how she stood in front of trees to protect them from being cut down, and the government men beat her and put her in jail.

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 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.

We All Went on Safari book
#5
We All Went on Safari
Written by Laurie Krebs and illustrated by Julie Cairns
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Follows a Tanzanian family through the African grasslands as they count the animals they see, from one leopard to 10 elephants, and includes information about Tanzania and Swahili names and numbers. Reprint.

Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace book
#6
Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace
Written by Jen Johnson and illustrated by Sonia Sadler, Jen Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-10

As a young girl in Kenya, Wangari was taught to respect nature. She grew up loving the land, plants, and animals that surrounded her—from the giant mugumo trees her people, the Kikuyu, revered to the tiny tadpoles that swam in the river. Although most Kenyan girls were not educated, Wangari, curious and hardworking, was allowed to go to school. There, her mind sprouted like a seed. She excelled at science and went on to study in the United States. After returning home, Wangari blazed a trail across Kenya, using her knowledge and compassion to promote the rights of her countrywomen and to help save the land, one tree at a time.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters book
#7
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
Written and illustrated by John Steptoe
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that his two daughters were very beautiful. Nyasha was kind and considerate as well as beautiful, but everyone -- except Mufaro -- knew that Manyara was selfish, badtempered, and spoiled. When the king decided to take a wife and invited "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" to appear before him, Mufaro declared proudly that only the king could choose between Nyasha and Manyara. Manyara, of course, didn't agree, and set out to make certain that she would be chosen. John Steptoe has created a memorable modem fable of pride going before a fall, in keeping with the moral of the folktale that was his inspiration. He has illustrated it with stunning paintings that glow with the beauty, warmth, and internal vision of the land and people of his ancestors.

Baby Goes to Market book
#8
Baby Goes to Market
Written by Atinuke and illustrated by Angela Brooksbank, Atinuke
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Join Baby and his doting mama at a bustling southwest Nigerian marketplace for a bright, bouncy read-aloud offering a gentle introduction to numbers. Market is very crowded. Mama is very busy. Baby is very curious. When Baby and Mama go to the market, Baby is so adorable that the banana seller gives him six bananas. Baby eats one and puts five in the basket, but Mama doesn't notice. As Mama and Baby wend their way through the stalls, cheeky Baby collects five oranges, four biscuits, three ears of sweet corn, two pieces of coconut . . . until Mama notices that her basket is getting very heavy! Poor Baby, she thinks, he must be very hungry by now! Rhythmic language, visual humor, and a bounty of delectable food make this a tale that is sure to whet little appetites for story time.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain book
#9
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
Written by Verna Aardema and illustrated by Beatriz Vidal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A cumulative rhyme relating how Ki-pat brought rain to the drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. Verna Aardema has brought the original story closer to the English nursery rhyme by putting in a cumulative refrain and giving the tale the rhythm of “The House That Jack Built.”

For You Are a Kenyan Child book
#10
For You Are a Kenyan Child
Written by Kelly Cunnane and illustrated by Ana Juan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

From rooster crow to bedtime, a Kenyan boy plays and visits neighbors all through his village, even though he is supposed to be watching his grandfather's cows.

The Magic Bojabi Tree  book
#11
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.

Anansi the Spider book
#12
Anansi the Spider
Written and illustrated by Gerald McDermott
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

In trying to determine which of his six sons to reward for saving his life, Anansi the Spider is responsible for placing the moon in the sky.

The Wild Beast book
#13
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.

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