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Kenyan Children's Books

Kenyan Children's Books

At Our Ancestories, we love celebrating and sharing all things African. From history, cultures, traditions, languages, to books and so much more! Earlier this year, we created a list of the best storybooks on African history and culture. We decided to take it another step further and focus on different African countries. 

Our focus is on the East African country, Kenya. Kenya is full of diverse tribes and cultures, languages, and rich history. Picture books are one of the easiest ways to introduce kids to this African nation. 

Here is a list of our favourite Kenyan children's books. Please feel free to recommend more. 

 

A Kenyan Christmas

A Kenyan Christmas features Akinyi,  normally a good girl, who wants a different Christmas than her mother has planned. Will the Christmas family still bring her a gift?  

Readers will find out how Akinyi celebrates Christmas in Kenya where it is hot in December and a very special Christmas family come to bring the gifts.


Recommended Age: 6 - 8 years

A Mama for Owen

A Mama for Owen features Owen the baby hippo and his mama who were best friends. They loved to play hide-and-seek on the banks of the Sabaki River in Africa. That was all before the tsunami came and washed Owen's world away. 

But after the rain stops, Owen befriends Mzee, a grayish brown tortoise. He plays with him, snuggles with him, and decides he just might turn out to be his best friend and a brand-new mama.

Recommended Age: 2 - 8 years

A Tasty Maandazi

A Tasty Maandazi is a delightful day-in-the-life story of a creative Kenyan boy, Musa and his quest to get his favourite treat - a maandazi! Set in the magical coastal area of Kenya, Musa is challenged to learn that getting a maandazi, the famously tasty African donuts, is not always so easy.

The storybook carries the reader through a spread of lovely words and African imagery. A few Swahili terms are blended in as well, for which there is a translation dictionary. A maandazi recipe is also included so you can have fun making some at home!

Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain 

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain is a cumulative rhyme relating how Ki-pat brought rain to the drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. 

Verna Aardema, the author,  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.”

Recommended Age: 5 - 8 years

Chirchir Is Singing

Chirchir Is Singing follows ChirChir who just wants to make herself useful like all her other family members. But she drops Mama's water bucket, spills Kogo's tea, and sends Baba's potatoes tumbling down the hill. Isn't there something that Chirchir does best?

The story is set in the rolling hills of rural Kenya, this is a wise and lyrical story about belonging.  

Recommended Age: 3 - 7 years

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna

Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna gives kids a firsthand look at growing up in Kenya as a member of a tribe of nomads whose livelihood centers on the raising and grazing of cattle.

Readers share Lekuton's first encounter with a lion, the epitome of bravery in the warrior tradition. They follow his mischievous antics as a young Maasai cattle herder, coming-of-age initiation, boarding school escapades, soccer success, and journey to America for college. 

Recommended Age: 12+ years

For You Are a Kenyan Child 

For You Are a Kenyan Child introduces young readers to the life of a Kenyan child. Imagine you live in a small Kenyan village, where the sun rises over tall trees filled with doves. You wake to the sound of a rooster’s crow, instead of an alarm clock. Your afternoon snack is a tasty bug plucked from the sky, instead of an apple. And rather than kicking a soccer ball across a field, you kick a homemade ball of rags down a dusty road.

But with so much going on around you, it’s just as easy for a Kenyan and American child to forget what your mama asked you to do!

Recommended Age: 3 - 8 years

If You Were Me and Lived in …Kenya

If You Were Me and Lived in …Kenya is an in this exciting series travels to Africa to learn about the thrilling country of Kenya. This extraordinary book is a child's Introduction to cultures around the world. It also explores life for children on a new continent.

The book touches on many familiar topics such as names, money, games,and food as well the sites and sounds that come with living in Africa.

Recommended Age: 7 - 9 years

Kenya ABCs

Kenya ABCs is an alphabetical exploration of the people, geography, animals, plants, history, and culture of Kenya.

Recommended Age: 5 - 11 years

Lila and the Secret of Rain

Lila and the Secret of Rain is a story about how months the sun has burned down on Lila's Kenyan village. It is too hot to gather firewood, too hot to weed the garden, even too hot to milk the cow. Without rain the well will run dry and the crops will fail.

Lila is so worried that when her grandfather whispers to her the secret of rain, she decides to go and talk to the sky herself.

Recommended Age: 5 - 8 years

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya through artful prose and beautiful illustrations, tells the true story of Wangari Muta Maathai, known as “Mama Miti,” who in 1977 founded the Green Belt Movement, an African grassroots organization that has empowered many people to mobilize and combat deforestation, soil erosion, and environmental degradation.


Today, more than 30 million trees have been planted throughout Mama Miti’s native Kenya, and in 2004 she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari Muta Maathai has changed Kenya tree by tree—and with each page turned, children will realize their own ability to positively impact the future.


Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years

Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya

Mama Panya's Pancakes: A Village Tale from Kenya follows Mama Panya who is alarmed at the market when her son Adika invites all of their friends to come over for pancakes. However will she feed them all?

This clever and heart-warming story about village life teaches children the benefits of sharing as well as introducing simple Swahili phrases.

Recommended Age: 4 - 7 years

Moja Means One- Swahili Counting Book

Moja Means One- Swahili Counting Book introduces children to counting in Swahili with helpful pronunciation keys, while presenting East African culture and lifestyles through an easy-to-understand narrative and vivid illustrations.  


Recommended Age: 3 - 5 years

Owen & Mzee: Language Of Friendship

Owen & Mzee: Language Of Friendship is a story about an orphaned baby hippo named Owen and the 130-year-old giant turtle, Mzee, Craig Hatkoff explores the language of love, friendship, and nurturance that these two incredible creatures share with one another.

This book traces their first year together, including their adorable playful ways and the unique "language" that they have developed.


Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years

Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World

Seeds of Change: Wangari's Gift to the World starts with Wangari as a young girl in Kenya. She was taught to respect nature, and 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. Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace brings to life the empowering story of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman, and environmentalist, to win a Nobel Peace Prize.


Recommended Age: 7 - 10 years

The Lion & the Mouse

The Lion & the Mouse starts after a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap.

With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, this book makes a truly special retelling, and stunning pictures speak volumes.
 

Recommended Age: 2 - 5 years

The Mystery of the Lion's Tail

The Mystery of the Lion's Tail follows Ethan, Ella, and their parents travel to the Maasai Mara in Kenya where they stay in a cabin and venture out on safaris every day in search of The Big Five game animals—the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, the leopard, the rhinoceros, and, of course, the lion.

The kids are so excited when they see four of the five animals within the first few days, but where are the lions? Both Ethan and Ella could swear they’ve seen a lion’s tail poking out from behind a tree, but they cannot seem to find the animal itself! The locals give Ethan and Ella some clues about spotting lions. With a little help and some good detective work, the twins discover a whole lion family on their last day in Kenya!

 
Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years

The Wooden Camel

The Wooden Camel follows Etabo who dreams of being a camel racer. One day he might even beat his older brother when they race. But with the price of water rising, Etabo's father must sell the camels, and his siblings must find work. What will Etabo do now?

This is a story of love and hope that centers on the inspiring Turkana people of northwest Kenya. Told with gentleness and humor, it is a universal story about keeping one's dreams alive.

 
Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years

The Yummiest Githeri

The Yummiest Githeri takes young readers on a journey to the majestic central highlands of Kenya and introduces them to the tasty African cuisine, githeri. This is the story of a confident young girl, Wanja, who faces bullying and other challenges at school with the help of this yummy bean stew-like dish.

The storybook carries the reader through a spread of lovely words and African imagery. A few Swahili terms are blended in as well, for which there is a translation dictionary. There is also a githeri recipe included so you can have fun making some at home!


Recommended Age: 5 - 8 years

We’re from Kenya

We’re from Kenya readers will meet four children who come from Kenya. Kenya is a country on the eastern side of the continent of Africa. It borders the Indian Ocean and Tanzania and Somalia. Kenya’s landscape is made up of low plains rising to central highlands. The Great Rift Valley runs through these. The west of Kenya is fertile plateau. The weather in Kenya can be tropical near the coast, becoming arid inside the country. The capital of Kenya is Nairobi.


Recommended Age: 6 - 8 years

 

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