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Children’s picture books by African Authors

Children’s picture books by African Authors

We at Our Ancestories love sharing and highlighting all things African. We talk about African history, culture, traditions, books, and so much more. In this post, we are sharing children's picture books written by African authors.

There is something so powerful about having our stories written for us and by us. We get the chance to control the narrative and share them on our terms. There are so many great children's books that have been published by African authors.

Join us as we explore African authors and their incredible works.

Baba Wagué Diakité

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.
Exciting illustrations in bright ceramic plates, bowls and sculpture practically dance off of the pages.

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years

Berveley Naidoo

Who is King? And Other Tales from Africa

Who is King? And Other Tales from Africa All kinds of animals are featured in these ten sparkling stories from all over Africa, by an award-winning author and illustrator. Find out what happens to Lion when he challenges Elephant and discovers who is the real king of the savannah; laugh along with Tortoise as he bewitches the animals in Tiger's work-party with his irresistible music; find out why Hippo has no hair, how Elephant got his trunk, and why Cockerel crows.

Then read about the woman who had a mouse-child! The stories are drawn from the rich folklore of Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and are perfectly matched by Piet Grobler's wonderful illustrations.

Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years

Christine Mapondera Talley

Makanaka's World: Adventure in Morocco

Makanaka's World: Adventure in Morocco This story takes children on an adventure to Morocco. The main character Makanaka, is invited to a soccer game by her friend Nadia in Morocco. Fari the parrot, and Makanaka quickly take off for Casablanca. But when they arrive, they discover that Nadia has a problem. Someone has taken her team's soccer ball! Can Makanaka and Fari help Nadia's team solve the mystery? This book is great for social studies. Kid will learn some geography, foreign words, and bits of the culture.

Recommended Age: 5 - 8 years


Desmond Tutu

Desmond and the Very Mean Word

Desmond and the Very Mean Word is based on a true story from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood in South Africa, Desmond and the Very Mean Wordreveals the power of words and the secret of forgiveness.

When Desmond takes his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turn to hurt and anger when a group of boys shout a very mean word at him. He first responds by shouting an insult, but soon discovers that fighting back with mean words doesn’t make him feel any better. With the help of kindly Father Trevor, Desmond comes to understand his conflicted feelings and see that all people deserve compassion, whether or not they say they are sorry. Brought to vivid life in A. G. Ford’s energetic illustrations, this heartfelt, relatable story conveys timeless wisdom about how to handle bullying and angry feelings, while seeing the good in everyone.

 Recommended Age: 6 - 9 years

Ekiuwa Aire 

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

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


Kwame Nyong’o

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 mandazi, these famously tasty African donuts, is not always so easy. 

Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years 

I Love Ugali and Sukuma Wiki

I Love Ugali and Sukuma Wiki brings to life the world of one energetic Kenyan boy, Akiki and his love for his favourite food - ugali and sukuma wiki. Ugali and sukuma wiki is the staple dish of maizemeal and greens cherished throughout eastern Africa. Set in western Kenya, where the sun dances with Africa’s largest lake to create the most incredible sunsets, Akiki’s carefree life faces the challenge of personal responsibility. 

Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years 

The Yummiest Githeri

The Yummiest Githeri takes us on a journey to the majestic central highlands of Kenya and introduces us 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. 

Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years 


LM. Daini

Giraffe's Eggs

Giraffe's Eggs: Giraffe becomes very jealous, when her best friend (the Ox pecker), shares news of her fresh colourful eggs. She also decides to do anything it takes, to get her own eggs. Does she succeed or does she get into trouble?’Giraffe’s eggs’ is a lovely illustrated fable. It teaches children to love themselves as they are, and be grateful for others.

Recommended Age: All Ages 

Keke And The Cake Thief

Keke And The Cake Thief: is a fun and beautifully illustrated modern African fairy tale, perfect for story time at home and in the classroom.

There’s a cake thief in the kingdom and the king is getting very upset. Keke’s love for cakes makes him the best person to help track down the elusive cake thief and restore peace in the king’s kitchen!

Recommended Age: All Ages 


Lupita Nyong'o


Sulwe: is a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years 


Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

Zahrah the Windseeker

Zahrah the Windseeker: in the Ooni Kingdom, children born dada—with vines growing in their hair—are rumored to have special powers. Zahrah Tsami doesn’t know anything about that. She feels normal. Others think she’s different—they fear her.

Only Dari, her best friend, isn’t afraid of her. But then something begins to happen—something that definitely marks Zahrah as different—and the only person she can tell is Dari. He pushes her to investigate, edging them both closer and closer to danger. Until Dari’s life is on the line. Only Zahrah can save him, but to do so she’ll have to face her worst fears alone, including the very thing that makes her different.

Recommended Age: 10 - 12 years 

The Chicken in the Kitchen

The Chicken in the Kitchen: When Anyaugo follows a giant chicken into her kitchen one warm night in Nigeria, she embarks on a fun-filled adventure where nothing is quite as it seems. Is the nature spirit that lives in the wooden walls of her house a help or a hindrance? Is the mischievous giant chicken a friend or a foe? Most importantly, will Anyaugo be able to save the food her Aunties have cooked for the New Yam Festival the next day?

Recommended Age: 4 - 8 years 


Tamkara Olayinka Adun

Osasu and The Great Wall of The Benin Empire

Osasu and The Great Wall of The Benin Empire is a story told from the point of view of Osasu, a young Edo boy who lived in the Benin empire and enjoys the comfort and protection of the Great Wall of Benin that was built by his ancestors.

Through Osasu's eyes, we catch a glimpse of the life and the rich culture of the Edo people before their interruption.

Follow young Osasu, as he navigates life at the height of the ancient Benin civilization, the arrival of strange visitors, and the fall of the Great Benin Empire. The story ends on an inspirational note with Osasu's vow in the final chapter.

Recommended Age: All Ages 


Tolulope Ajayi 

ARA: Beautiful.Brave.Smart

ARA: Beautiful.Brave.Smart is the story of a little girl and her grandma. It teaches the importance of positive affirmation and how changing perspective can help us see the good in every day.

Recommended Age: All Ages 


Yeve C. Sibanda

My First Book Of Shona And Ndebele Words

My First Book Of Shona And Ndebele Words: Little learners will read essential first words in Shona and Ndebele, the two main native languages of Zimbabwe. Colorful illustrations are paired with simple first words for readers of all ages to learn.

Recommended Age: 8 - 12 years  


Zukiswa Wanner 


Refilwe brings young readers a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Rapunzel, with a uniquely South African twist. Refilwe is the story of the dreadlocked beauty who is stuck in a cave on top of a mountain awaiting her prince, Tumi. This take on the classic tale will have the children chanting, “Refilwe, Refilwe let down your locks . . . So I can climb the scraggy rocks!” Based on the original version but reimagined for African children, the tale is enriched with magical illustrations by Tamsin Hinrichsen that will keep all children entranced and foster in them a love of reading.

Recommended Age: 3 - 5 years


Please feel free to add to our growing list in the comments. Check out our other children's book lists: Kenyan storybooks, books based on African heroes, picture books on African history and culture, and books from all over Africa.

Idia of the Benin Kingdom


Idia of the Benin Kingdom: Workbook


Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba


Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba: Workbook


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