Another week, another perfect opportunity to share a booklist! Today, we're switching gears slightly and present a curated booklist that celebrates the power and wonder of African children's literature for young boys. (Don't worry, if you have amazing girls in your life, we've got a special booklist coming your way next week!)
For all the parents, guardians, and educators seeking engaging and empowering reads for the young boys in their lives, we've got you covered! These captivating tales will entertain, inspire, and instil a strong sense of pride in their heritage. While this list isn't exhaustive, it represents stories we believe will leave a lasting impression on young hearts. We invite you to add your favourite books to this collection in the comments. After all, you can never have enough books! We're always eager to learn and discover more together!
Before we dive in, be sure to check out our other booklists. Whether you're looking for recommendations for middle-grade readers, insightful African children's books that teach valuable life lessons, or biographies of awe-inspiring African legends, we've got something special for young readers.
Let us dive in, shall we?
A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay.
Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way. Includes an afterword by author Linda Sue Park and the real-life Salva Dut, on whom the novel is based, and who went on to found Water for South Sudan.
Recommended Age: 10+ years
Eight-year-old Garang is tending cattle far from his family's home in southern Sudan when war comes to his village. Frightened but unharmed, he returns to find everything has been destroyed.
Soon Garang meets other boys whose villages have been attacked. Before long they become a moving band of thousands, walking hundreds of miles seeking safety -- first in Ethiopia and then in Kenya. The boys face numerous hardships and dangers along the way, but their faith and mutual support help keep the hope of finding a new home alive in their hearts.
Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Brothers in Hope is a story of remarkable and enduring courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power of the human spirit.Recommended Age: 7 - 9 years
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 - 11 years
Over 4,000 years ago, in ancient Egypt, a young boy named Imhotep was born.From a young age, he excelled and quickly became known as a genius.
Imhotep had the ability to see through difficult problems and was often trying new techniques and experiments. He had many talents, and as an architect, Imhotep designed the step pyramid at Sakkara—one of the most incredible structures in ancient history. The step pyramid still stands strong today.
In the pages of this book, you'll discover the Egypt known to Imhotep, as he grows from a curious young man into one of the most successful, intelligent, and well-known men in ancient Egypt.
Recommended Age: 4 - 12 years
Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, shares his remarkable story of growing up in South Africa with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child to exist. But he did exist--and from the beginning, the often-misbehaved Trevor used his keen smarts and humor to navigate a harsh life under a racist government.
City-dwelling Mayowa is unhappy because he has been told he will be visiting his grandmother in Ilisan, Nigeria. When he gets there, Grandma pairs him up with the ever-hungry, fun-loving Denuyi. Together, they explore the town and all its wonders. The boys chase grasshoppers, dip their feet into a stream, visit piglets, climb a tree… and join in with a masquerade parade! By the time he returns to Lαgos, Mαyowa has learnt that there is more to life than computer games.Recommended Age: 3 - 8 years
In South Africa, a young black boy shares a special day with his grandmother when they go into the city on a shopping trip.Recommended Age: 5 - 9 years
Asha and her best friend, Yesofu, never cared about the differences between them: Indian. African. Girl. Boy. Short. Tall.
But when Idi Amin announces that Indians have ninety days to leave the country, suddenly those differences are the only things that people in Entebbe can see—not the shared after-school samosas or Asha cheering for Yesofu at every cricket game.
Determined for her life to stay the same, Asha clings to her world tighter than ever before. But Yesofu is torn, pulled between his friends, his family, and a promise of a better future. Now as neighbors leave and soldiers line the streets, the two friends find that nothing seems sure—not even their friendship.
Tensions between Indians and Africans intensify and the deadline to leave is fast approaching. Could the bravest thing of all be to let each other go?Recommended Age: 8 - 12 years
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
Imagine living in the heart of Africa. Imagine living in a place where the sun rises every morning over blue mountains.
Akimbo and his parents live on the edge of an African game reserve. It's his father's task to protect the thousands of amazing animals who make it their home, and wildlife-loving Akimbo dreams of helping him. In these three adventures, Akimbo protects elephants from poachers, saves a lion cub from a trap, and rescues a man from a crocodile!Recommended Age: 7 - 9 years
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba's tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season's crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family's life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William's windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.
When the family's cart breaks down and there's no way of bringing goods to market, it's No. 1 who devises the Toyota Cow-rolla and saves the day. He runs errands for his family and helps Mama Coca-Cola feed the busloads of people who stop for her delicious fried akara. No. 1 even helps Grandmother get to the medical centre when she can't afford treatment.
Recommended Age: 6 - 9 years
In a country struggling with acceptance, hope can come in many different forms.
Recommended Age: 6 - 8 years
Etabo 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? From acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu and Italian illustrator Manuela Adreani, this story of love and hope 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
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
And there you have it, fellow book enthusiasts – 15 Empowering African Books for young boys. There are countless more stories to explore, heroes to meet, and wisdom to gather. What other books would you add to our list?
Be sure to tune in next week as we explore an empowering booklist dedicated to young girls!