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15 Of The Best Children's Books About Mali

15 Of The Best Children's Books About Mali

As a kid, did you ever read a children's book that took you far away to a faraway land? Could you smell the flowers and feel the different textures described in the book? 

When I read these books: I became engrossed in the story and forgot about my surroundings. It was like I was on a journey with the characters. 

Books help children gain new perspectives and open their minds to the world around them. They are a fun and engaging way to get kids excited about reading. 

We at Our Ancestories have been compiling book lists to introduce kids to different African countries such as EgyptEthiopiaNigeria, and South Africa.

In this post, we are focusing on Mali. These wonderful books are going to introduce your little one to Malian culture.


I Lost My Tooth in Africa

I Lost My Tooth in Africa - more than anything, Amina wants to lose her loose tooth while visiting her family in Mali, West Africa. Only then can she put it under a gourd for the African tooth fairy, who will ex 

Recommended Age: 5 - 8 years 

Mali: Land of Gold and Glory

Mali: Land of Gold and Glory will introduce elementary and middle school students to the ancient African empire of Mali, and teach them about an amazing history--and about themselves. Mali, one of the most glorious but least known civilizations of the world, comes to life through vivid color photographs, timelines, maps...and the legends of the griots, or storytellers, who’ve preserved the past of Mali for millennia, handing down stories of brave kings from generation to generation.

Recommended Age: All Ages 

Mansa Musa: Leader of Mali

Mansa Musa: Leader of Mali - Mansa Musa was the king of Mali as it became one of the largest empires during the time of Musa's rule. Readers will discover the life of Mansa Musa in this appealing biography that uses vivid images and maps and stunning facts to engage children. A glossary and index work in conjunction with the easy to read text to teach readers about the Mali ruler, griots, Mali trade, Mecca, Mailian religion, and other kings and queens.

Recommended Age: 9 - 18 years

Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali  

Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali - When an evening celebration in his village is disrupted by the cries of slave raiders, young Kankan Musa runs to find his spear, but in a moment he is taken. Suddenly, the world he has known is gone. Is he to be a slave? Or will destiny carry this son of a proud people to a different future?

Recommended Age: 10 - 12 years

Meet Our New Student from Mali

Meet Our New Student from Mali - Fatou Toure, a young girl from Mali, will be joining David s class next week. David and his classmates are determined to learn everything they can about Mali in order to welcome their new classmate. They learn that Mali is a land rich in history, with many different peoples and cultures. The varied country of Mali can claim deserts, forests, lions, hippos, gold, ancient and modern cities, and some of the world s greatest music. The students learn how to prepare Fatou s favorite snack, bene, and make a Malian Kanaga mask. I Bisimilla, Fatou!

Recommended Age: 7 years +

My Baby

My Baby - A child is born amid African colors and rhythms. Nakunte's mama teaches her how to make bògòlan, a cloth painted with mud, using the traditional techniques practiced for centuries by women of Mali. She carefully selects her materials -- the cloth, the mud, the sticks and leaves -- and looks to the natural world for inspiration for the patterns she will cover the cloth with. After much practice, Nakunte is ready to make an important bògòlan for herself, and for her baby.

Recommended Age: 3 - 6 years 

Never Forgotten

Never Forgotten - Set in West Africa, this a lyrical story-in-verse is about a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his father who is left behind to mourn the loss of his son. It is a beautiful, powerful, truly unforgettable story about family, memory, and freedom.

Recommended Age: 6 - 9 years 

Sidikiba's Kora Lesson

Sidikiba's Kora Lesson - Ten year-old Sidikiba is about to be initiated into the world of the kora, a twenty-one stringed West African harp performed by his family for seventy generations. To become a kora player, like his father and grandfather before him, Sidikiba must honor and respect the wisdom of his elders, trust in the mystical secrets of his community, and, above all else, be patient and practice hard.

Recommended Age: 4 - 7 years 

Songs from the Baobab: African Lullabies & Nursery Rhymes 

Songs from the Baobab: African Lullabies & Nursery Rhymes -Representing 11 languages originating from Central and West Africa and brought to life with lavish illustrations, this collection's rhymes and lullabies soothe babies to sleep as the songs travel from one country and one language to another.

Recommended Age: 3 - 5 years 

Sunjata of the Mande Empire

Sunjata of the Mande Empire - It had been foretold that Sunjata would become king. However, many doubted he had the skills to fulfill the prophecy.

This story is an adaptation of an epic poem that has been told by jali poets since the 13th century. It tells of a young boy overcoming self-doubt and becoming the founder of the Mandé Empire, one of the richest empires in African and Malian history.

Sunjata's story is one of perseverance, resilience, and a commitment to the rights of people.

Recommended Age: 4 - 12 years 

The Amazing Travels of Ibn Battuta

Amazing Travels Ibn Battuta - In 1325, when Ibn Battuta was just twenty-one, he bid farewell to his parents in Tangier, Morocco, and embarked on a pilgrimage to Mecca. It was thirty years before he returned home, having seen much of the world. In this book he recalls his amazing journey and the fascinating people, cultures and places he encountered.

After his pilgrimage to Mecca, Ibn Battuta was filled with a desire to see more of the world. He traveled extensively, throughout Islamic lands and beyond ― from the Middle East to Africa to Europe to Asia.

Recommended Age: 7 - 11 years 

The Everlasting Embrace 

The Everlasting Embrace - Each morning as the sun brightens the West African sky, mother and child prepare to start their day. They spend it bound together, the child riding on the mother’s back watching their world go past. Pounding millet, drawing water from the well, visiting friends, shopping at the outdoor market—days are shared in perfect step with one another. And even when the child grows big enough to go off and explore their world, the everlasting embrace endures.

Recommended Age: 3 - 5 years 

The Hatseller And The Monkeys 

The Hatseller And The Monkeys - tells an African version of the familiar story of a man who sets off to sell his hats, only to have them stolen by a treeful of mischievous monkeys.

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years

The Magic Gourd 

The Magic Gourd - tells a tale from Mali about a magic gourd that can fill itself with whatever its owner desires. And hidden within is a powerful lesson about generosity.

Draught and famine have come to the parched forest. And when a hungry Rabbit rescues Brother Chameleon from a thorny bush, Chameleon repays him tenfold with a magical gourd that always stays filled with food and water. But soon a greedy king steals the gourd to make gold and food for himself. Cleverly, Rabbit recovers his gourd, but still leaves plenty for the King. Surprised by Rabbit's kind act, the king begins to learn the importance of generosity and friendship.

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years


Yatandou lives in a Mali village with her family and neighbors. And though she is only eight years old and would much rather play with her pet goat, she must sit with the women and pound millet kernels. To grind enough millet for one day's food, the women must pound the kernels with their pounding sticks for three hours. It is hard work, especially when one is eight years old. But as they work, the women dream of a machine that can grind the millet and free them from their pounding sticks. But the machine will only come when the women have raised enough money to buy it. Yatandou must help raise the money, even if it means parting with something she holds dear.

Recommended Age: 6 - 9 years


What other children's books would you recommend? Please write them in the comments below!


Idia of the Benin Kingdom


Imhotep of Ancient Kemet


Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba


Sunjata of the Mande Empire


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