A great book offers a passport to another world. It introduces kids to new cultures and experiences, and it inspires good global citizenship. When it comes to learning more about Africa for kids, three gorgeously illustrated children’s books come to mind: Giraffes Can’t Dance, The Water Princess, and Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai.
Each book contains thought-provoking lessons, a healthy dose of African culture for kids, and whimsical artwork to spark little imaginations.
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Giraffes Can’t Dance introduces kids to African wildlife through the unlikely tale of Gerald the giraffe. Gerald doesn’t believe he can dance because of his gangly neck, wobbly legs, and four left feet. As other African wildlife hit the dance floor—including cha-cha-ing chimpanzees and waltzing warthogs—Gerald despairs that he’ll never follow their lead. But when an affable cricket chirps a morale-boosting song, Gerald decides to give it another try.
Soon, he’s gliding across the dance floor to his own beat. This tale teaches important lessons about self-esteem and confidence while introducing little ones to African wildlife and landscapes. Andreae’s rhythmic verse will make this a favorite bedtime story. Parker-Rees’s boogying animal illustrations will make your kids laugh out loud. While this is the lightest of the three reads when it comes to African culture, it will enthuse your children to learn more about Africa.
The Water Princess by Susan Verde, Georgie Badiel, and Peter H. Reynolds
The Water Princess introduces us to an Africa of limitless skies and warm earth, the picturesque kingdom of Princess Gie Gie. Yet, clean drinking water remains a daily struggle for the inhabitants of her village. We are invited along as Gie Gie and her mother make the daily overland trek to collect water. Then, they transport it in heavy pots atop their heads back to the village.
As she boils the murky liquid, Gie Gie dreams of a new well near the village providing easy access for all to crystal-clear drinking water. This book will touch you and your little ones. It’ll make you think about the basic necessities we take for granted. Inspired by the childhood experiences of model-turned-activist Georgie Badiel of Burkina Faso, the Georgie Badiel Foundation now works to make clean drinking water a reality for African villagers.
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai tells the story of the real-life heroine who fought to reverse deforestation in her native Kenya. After leaving her homeland as a young girl, she returns as an adult to find her once lush homeland laid bare. Instead of despairing, Wangari digs in, replanting the trees of her native land.
Wangari’s story teaches important lessons about hard work, perseverance, and the difference that one inspired person can make. Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her environmental efforts in Kenya, which inspired the Green Belt Movement. The book’s vibrant watercolor illustrations bring the story to life. It’s even printed on recycled paper in keeping with the eco-friendly theme.
Africa for Kids
These stunning picture books will introduce your children to an amazing continent. Each book teaches deeper lessons about individuality, perseverance, and courage, too.
Interested in learning more about Africa for kids? Or, looking for African trips your whole family will love? At Our Whole Village, we create tours carefully designed for families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference.
We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for families just like yours.