Africa in Picture Books: 21 Great Africa Books For Kids, by Country

Africa Books For Kids: Many Picture Books about Africa, organized by their country

A list of great African books for kids, so that families and schools have great children’s books about Africa.

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Africa is Not a Country: A Land of Many Nations








Africa is Not a Country, by Margy Burns Knight, illustrated by Ann Sibley O’Brien

This Africa book for kids explains the diversity of the African continent – the second largest continent on Earth. There are mega-cities, many climates, hundreds of languages, multiple religions, and many ethnic groups. This children’s book about Africa is a good nonfiction source for introducing the continent.


Books about Mauritania

Deep in the Sahara, by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

This book goes through a girl’s desire to wear the malafa like the beautiful women in her family. She wants to look elegant and grown like them. But eventually through the story, Lalla learns the meaning of the garment – that it shows ones’ faith, not that it is to be worn as a fashion accessory – and Lalla’s mother agrees to let Lalla wear her own.  A beautiful children’s book about dressing hijab from the women in Mauritania.


Books about Burkina Faso

The Water Princess, by Georgie Badeil and Susan Verde, illustated by Peter H. Reynolds 

The Water Princess tells the real childhood story of Georgia Badiel, who every day made the trek to get clean water. The book is positive in tone, but does highlight that drinking water access is a need that not all people have on Earth.  There is a page of information on that topic in the back of the book.

The book really highlights the desert atmosphere, so if students are studying biomes, this would be a good tie-in book.


Book about Ghana


Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emannuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualis

This books tells the story of a boy named Emmanuel who was born with a leg deformation. He faced stigmas from his society. Yet, he still did all that he could – participating in sports, hopping to school when no help was provided, and he ultimately did a 400 mile bicycle ride across Ghana to raise awareness for disability in sports. In addition to this picture book, there is also a documentary about his story.

Emmanuel continued to raise awareness for disabilities, getting national legislation passed and raising money for charities that provide wheelchairs to those who need it.


Books about Tanzania

My Rows and Piles of Coins, by Tololwa M. Mollel, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

This is abook about saving your coins for something big. Saruni wants to buy his mom a bicycle to make her work easier. So he saves his rows and piles of coins, and when he goes to buy the bicycle he realizes it is more expensive than he expected. His father “sells” him the bicycle, then returns the money to the young boy. This leads him to his next plan for his money – to buy a cart for the bicycle.

This book by Tololwa M. Mollel is about the Masaai people.


We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania, by Laurie Krebs

This is the book Tanzania safari travelers will need to prepare their Swahili phrases. Proceeds from this book go to the African Wildlife Foundation for land and wildlife conservation. On the safari, the children see leopards, lions, ostriches, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, hippos, warthogs, monkeys, and elephants walking in the Serengeti.

The word “safari” is the Swahili word for journey. It comes from the Arabic word safar or safariya.


When Trees Walked, by Nishant Tharani, illustrated by Nadir Tharani, and translated into Kiswahili by Demere Kitunga

This book tells a myth about how the trees came to be planted in one place. It features illustrations of the many animals in the landscape, as it tells the story of the trees when they walked the earth. A theme of the book is environmental awareness and protection.

The illustrator and translator are Tanzanian, and the author grew up in London and moved to Tanzania to live. This book is bilingual, in both English and Kaswahili.

Books about Nigeria

Baby Goes to Market, by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

Throughout this children’s book about Nigeria, as mama shops in the market, baby gets fed sweet treets: oranges, chin-chin biscuits, and coconut. It becomes an adventure on each stop through the stalls, as mama purchases peppers and other items, while baby fills up on sweet treats. The paperback and board book versions are slightly different. The board book version is best for little babies, the paperback version expands the story, with each sweet-giver assigning an adjective to the baby.

The Magic Tree: A Folktale from Nigeria, by T. Obinkaram Echewa, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

This book tells the story of Mbi, an orphan who is misused by other villagers, requiring him to work all day, and not be fed fully. Mbi finds a magic plant (a wish-granting tree) that he asks to grow big and feed the village. The magical tree provides for the people. One day a boy comes to steal from the tree, so Mbi asks the tree to punish the thief, carrying him up to the clowds. Eventually, Mbi returns the boy back from the sky, to the villagers, once they show their appreciation for what Mbi has to offer them.


Catch That Chicken, by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank

The inner pages of this book show off Nigerian village life, as they run around to catch that chicken. Lami is normally the best at chicken-catching, but since she injured her ankle on a run up the babaob tree, she has to think with her quick wit instead of her quick feet.


Picture Books about Angola

Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba, by Ekiuwa Aire

This book tells the story of Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba, a girl who would become the Queen of not 1 but 2 African kingdoms. She was a reigning leader during the time that the Portuguese were making inroads in Africa with the slave trade. From a scary birth as a baby where she was not breathing, to becoming the highest-ranking person in her kingdom, Njinga is a significant figure in West African history.


Picture Books about Uganda

A Good Trade, by Alma Fullerton, illustrations by Karen Patkau

This book about Uganda shows a boy making his daily trek to the village well to fill up his two cans for water. He passes by cattle and soldiers to the well where he must pump for water. The book covers a lot of imagery – the water splashing on his feet as carries the jugs – and an aid worker gives him a special gift off of his truck: a pair of shoes. The boy repays the worker’s gift with a flower.


Picture Books about Kenya

Hope Springs by Eric Walters, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

This book is about actual events that happened in the Mbooni District in Kenya. Children at the orphanage were refused water by the other villagers, worried about water shortages during a Kenyan drought. Coming up with a solution, a new well project at Kyamutuo Spring was built. Boniface, the main character in the story, is a 9-year-old who shows that the fear of the villagers about the orphans can be matched with a generosity mindset – that when the orphanage gets it own well, they can build a second so that everyone has water.


Picture Books about Mali

Yatandou by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Peter Sylvada

Yatandou is 8 years old and lives in Mali. She plays with her pet goat, but also grinds millet by hand: taking 3 hours to grind enough millet for the day’s food. Her families and neighbors are saving up to buy a machine that will free them from this difficult task of grinding millet, but it will be expensive. Yatandou shows just how much sacrifice she will put into achieving the group goal of buying a millet grinder.

Picture Books about Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivore)

Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family, by Elizabeth Zunon

Grandpa has a farm in the Ivory Coast growing cacao. The chocolate becomes a birthday gift to his granddaughter, as Daddy explains how chocolate comes from the important farmers. The back of the book has a map and more information about cacao.


Picture Books about South Africa

Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales, by Nelson Mandela

This book is a collection of African folk tales to raise funds for Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund, which assists AIDS orphans.

The Day Gogo Went to Vote, by Elinor Batezat Sisulu, illustrated by Sharon Wilson

Thembi accompanies her great-grandmother (who is 100 year old) to vote for the first time. A book about apartheid’s effect on voting.


Picture Books about Ethiopia ->

                 Click here to see even more books about Ethiopia


Colors of Ethiopia: the Beauty of East African Culture, in Tigrinya and English, by Jane Kurtz 

Find the yellow flowers, green vegetables, and brown dirt that make up the Ethiopian landscape.

The Runaway Injera: An Ethiopian Fairy Tale in Ahmaric and English, by Jane Kurtz, translated by Mastewal Abera

This Ethiopian book is in Amharic and English. Injera, the famous Ethiopian bread dish, is on the run from excited Ethiopian kids in this version of “The Gingerbread Man.”

The Big Buna Bash: One Little Girl’s Story About Being Different and the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, by Sara C Arnold, illustrated by Roberta Malasomma

This book shows a girl celebrating the buna ceremony, the Ethiopia coffee-drinking tradition.


Which Africa books for kids would you recommend? Any from these picture books that you have read before? Any that you love that we have left off this list?

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