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Children’s picture books on African culture

Children’s picture books on African culture

It is always a fun and exciting thing to explore different cultures. You can try out different foods, listen to various genres of music, watch foreign films, or read about other cultures.

One way of exploring different cultures with kids is by reading great children's books with them. They are a captivating way to keep them engaged and learning about the world around them.

In this post, we wanted to highlight some wonderful children's books on African culture. We also created other lists because Africa's is so rich in diverse cultures. You can read more here and here.

Afia the Ashanti Princess: A Visit to the Motherland 

Afia the Ashanti Princess: A Visit to the Motherland follows Afia, a young girl who dreams of being a princess but doesn't know of any princesses who look like her.

She travels to Ghana to visit her grandmother and learns about her ancestor who was a brave warrior queen.

Recommended Age: 5 - 8 years 

As Big as the Sky

As Big as the Sky is a heartwarming story set in an African village shows that with a little generosity, there’s always a way to come together. 

Recommended Age: 4+ years 

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions

Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions is a stunning ABC of African culture. 

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years 

Boundless Grace

Boundless Grace: When Grace gets the opportunity to go to Africa and visit with her father and his new family, she feels a little strange. But Nana says families are what you make them, and Grace is going to make the most of hers! 

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years 

Catch that chicken!

Catch that chicken! follows Lami who is the best chicken catcher in the whole village. Her sister may be speedy at spelling, her friend fast at braiding hair, and her brother brave with bulls, but when it comes to chickens, nobody is faster or braver than Lami. That is, until the day when Lami chases a little too fast, up the baobab tree, and reaches a little too far . . . ow!

How can she catch chickens with an ankle that’s puffed up like an angry lizard? Could it be, as Nana Nadia says, that quick thinking is more important than quick running?

Recommended Age: 2 - 5 years 

Deep in the Sahara

Deep in the Sahara follows Lalla who lives in the Muslim country of Mauritania, and more than anything, she wants to wear a malafa, the colorful cloth Mauritanian women, like her mama and big sister, wear to cover their heads and clothes in public.

But it is not until Lalla realizes that a malafa is not just worn to show a woman's beauty and mystery or to honor tradition—a malafa for faith—that Lalla's mother agrees to slip a long cloth as blue as the ink in the Koran over Lalla's head, under her arm, and round and round her body. Then together, they pray.

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years


Galimoto follows Kondi who is determined to make a galimoto—a toy vehicle made of wires. His brother laughs at the idea, but all day Kondi goes about gathering up the wire he needs. By nightfall, his wonderful galimoto is ready for the village children to play with in the light of the moon.

This Reading Rainbow book is a school and library favorite that offers a view of life in the southeast African nation of Malawi, one of the world's least-developed nations.

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years

Gloria’s Porridge

Gloria’s Porridge: Gloria is making a delicious porridge, but she's too hungry to share it with the cat. When Gloria goes to fetch some water, cat eats all the porridge . Angry Gloria shakes her spoon at the cat, and the scared cat runs away, starting a chaos around her. A retelling of an Ethiopian folktale by acclaimed author, Elizabeth Laird.


Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years

Handa’s Hen

Handa's Hen: Every morning, Handa, a young girl from the Luo tribe, feeds breakfast to Mondi, her grandma's black hen. This morning, however, Mondi is nowhere to be seen. So Handa and her friend Akeyo set off on a hunt, coming upon two fluttery butterflies, three stripy mice, four little lizards, five beautiful sunbirds, and many more intriguing creatures.

But where could Mondi be? Is that a faint cheeping they hear under the bush? Might Mondi have a surprise in store (or maybe even ten of them)? 

Recommended Age: 3 - 7 years

Idia of the Benin Kingdom 

Idia of the Benin Kingdom is an African folklore about Queen Idia of the ancient Kingdom of Benin. The young heroine sees her future in a dream and works her way to becoming one of the most loved, praised, and successful queens of the African Kingdom of Benin.

The book is beautifully illustrated to keep the kids engrossed. This story will teach your children about obedience, practicing one's art, and believing dreams can come true.

Recommended Ages: 4 - 12 years

Imani’s Moon

Imani’s Moon is a delightful mix of folklore and fantasy follows Little Imani as she works up the courage and confidence in herself to achieve big things. 

Little Imani is the smallest one in her village. The other children make fun of her and tell her she's too tiny, that she's an ant, that a meerkat might stomp her, and that she'll never amount to anything. Imani begins to believe them.

At bedtime, Imani's mama tells her traditional Maasai stories about the moon goddess Olapa and Anansi the spider. They accomplished the impossible. Imani's mama tells her that she is the one who needs to believe if she wants to reach new heights. So Imani sets out to touch the moon.

Recommended Ages: 6 - 9 years

Masai and I

Masai and I: In school one day, a little girl named Linda learns about East Africa and a tall, proud people called the Masai. She feels a kinship with them and imagines how her life would be if she lived there. She would live in a circle of huts in a tiny village instead of her apartment building. Instead of having a hamster as a pet, she would live among the giraffes and zebras on the African plain.

Linda’s observations celebrate things that are different and things that are the same, as her imagination opens the door to a place where Masai might become Masai and I.

Recommended Ages: 4 - 7 years

My Rows and Piles of Coins

My Rows and Piles of Coins: “I emptied my secret money box, arranged the coins in piles and the piles in rows . . .” The market is full of wonderful things, but Saruni is saving his precious coins for a red and blue bicycle.

How happy he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy loads to market on his very own bicycle—and how disappointed he is to discover that he hasn’t saved nearly enough!

Recommended Ages: 4 - 7 years

Njinga of Ngondo and Matamba

Njinga of Ngondo and Matamba is another great African folklore based on the story of Queen Njinga, a renowned African legend. Queen Anna Njinga (circa 1581-1663) of Angola bravely fought against slave trade and European influence in the seventeenth century.

The book teaches the historical truth behind Queen Njinga's story of bravery in a simple and relatable manner to today's kids.

Recommended Age: 4 - 12 years

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia is an inspiring true story of how one African woman began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.

Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.

The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.

Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years

Walking for Water

Walking for Water  follows Victor is very close to his twin sister, Linesi. But now that they have turned eight years old, she no longer goes to school with him. Instead, Linesi, like the other older girls in their community, walks to the river to get water five times a day, to give their mother more time for farming. Victor knows this is the way it has always been.

But he has begun learning about equality at school, and his teacher has asked the class to consider whether boys and girls are treated equally. Though he never thought about it before, Victor realizes they're not. And it's not fair to his sister. So Victor comes up with a plan to help.

Recommended Age: 7 - 10 years

We All Went on Safari

We All Went on Safari: Join Arusha, Mosi, Tumpe and their Maasai friends as they set out on a counting journey through the grasslands of Tanzania. Along the way, the children encounter all sorts of animals including elephants, lions and monkeys, while counting from one to ten in both English and Swahili.

The lively, rhyming text is accompanied by an illustrated guide to counting in Swahili, a map, notes about each of the animals, and interesting facts about Tanzania and the Maasai people.

Recommended Age: 5 - 8 years

In the spirit of exploring Africa and its great cultures, check out our other posts on our favourite Kenyan books and African heroes.

Idia of the Benin Kingdom


Idia of the Benin Kingdom: Workbook

$14.95  $15.95

Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba


Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba: Workbook

$14.95  $15.95

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