The spring festival of Holi is coming, and here is a wonderful children’s book to celebrate! Even young readers can learn the meaning of this joyous holiday with this lovely book about Holi for young children.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Share the Joy with a Book About Holi for Young Children
Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated in the spring. It is often known as the “festival of colors” because of the traditions of throwing colored powders and colored water on each other as part of the celebration.
Celebrate Holi With Me! is part of series from Shoumi Sen of stories she originally created to tell her daughter at bedtime. These colorful books help young children understand Indian holidays with vibrant pictures and rhyming text. (Read my review of her book on Durga Puja).
In Celebrate Holi With Me!, we follow Riya and her friends as they celebrate Holi, from dancing and joining in a bonfire and parade, to eating favorite sweets, and – of course – dousing each other with water and brightly colored powders!
Riya also tells the story behind Holi (but in a not-scary way), about a wicked king who tried but failed to kill his son, who was devoted to Lord Vishnu instead of to the king.
This book is a wonderful way to share the joy of the season with young readers and help them understand more about Holi.
And now US readers can enter for a chance to win your own copy! Just hop over to my Instagram account for more details!
Related Post: 5 Reasons Everyone Should Learn About Holi
February 6, 2019Book ReviewsComments Off on A Book Club for You! ADM Global Reads for Grownups
I spend most of my time on this blog writing about children – great books for them, fun learning activities, and tips to parent them. But today I want to focus on you, and a new, online book club designed just for you and your grownup friends!
Maybe you need some motivation to read, or maybe you already read voraciously but are dying for someone to talk to about what you’re reading. Either way, we’ve got you covered! The new ADM Global Reads for Grownups Book Club just kicked off this year, and we’re dedicated to reading great, multicultural books together. Don’t miss it!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
A Book Club for You! ADM Global Reads for Grownups
I love to read, and pre-kid I was an active member of our library’s book club. But with young children, I couldn’t find time to read – much less take part in a book club!
As my little ones get older, I have a little more time to read, but I’ve also discovered the wonders of online friendships – with amazing folks from around the world! So I decided to start an online book club, where we could read and discuss together, in our own time.
There would be no need to meet together at a certain time, instead we could just jump into the discussion when we were able. And no need to apologize for needing to skip a month or two – we could take time off as we needed it, and join back in as we were able.
Want to help get more diverse, multicultural children’s books out into the world? Support Multicultural Children’s Book Day on January 25, 2019 with free resources and a classroom kit offered on their website. And be sure to use #ReadYourWorld on social media and spread the word!
Welcome to our 6th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Here’s how to celebrate:
Link up your diversity book reviews below.
Join us tonight at our 6th annual Twitter Party! Follow @McChildsBookDay to join in on the diverse book discussions, discover new titles and authors and for a chance to win one of our twelve book bundles. Party time is 9 pm to 10 pm EST. RSVP here. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld.
We want to extend a huge THANK YOU to all of the Sponsors, Authors, Publishers, Organizations, Book Reviewers, Book Donators, Parents, Caregivers, Educators and Librarians who devote their time and energy to helping us to achieve our mission of getting multicultural children’s and YA books into the hands of readers. We appreciate you!
Teach your students all about the upcoming Lunar New Year with these wonderful Chinese New Year books for kids! They include picture books as well as easy readers and a chapter book. Some are straightforward informational books, while others are fairy tales that bring to life some of the aspects of the Chinese New Year, like the animals of the zodiac. Some focus on the difficulty of being away from family during this special holiday, or the challenges of finding your identity as a Chinese American.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
18 Chinese New Year Books for Children
Bringing In the New Year is a wonderful board book that introduces the youngest readers to Chinese New Year. In colorful illustrations, it demonstrates how a family prepares for the New Year – by, for example, sweeping out the old year and hanging up spring-happiness poems. Little ones will especially enjoy the depictions of the celebration with lion dancers, firecrackers, and a dragon parade!
A cute book to teach older slightly children about the holiday is Chelsea’s Chinese New Year. Chelsea and her Chinese-American family are getting ready for the Chinese New Year, and she can’t wait! Most of all she wonders how she will stay up so late the night before! Can be read as a simple story, or add in the fun facts that are seen in bubbles throughout the book. A fun look at the celebration through a child’s eyes. Includes a glossary, list of zodiac animals, and additional resources.
PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year also follows a young Chinese-American girl celebrating Chinese New Year, but with a twist – she is learning all about it from her grandmother (PoPo), who is visiting from China! The first thing she learns is that there are a lot of rules to bring luck for the New Year, like don’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day, and don’t use knives and scissors. Can she follow the rules to have the luckiest year ever?
This Next New Year is another great introduction to the customs of Chinese New Year. One thing that makes this book a little different is its emphasis on how people of different Asian cultures (and many who aren’t Asian at all!) celebrate this holiday, including the main character, a young boy who is half-Chinese and half-Korean.
In Li’s Chinese New Year, Li learns about Chinese New Year and the zodiac as he tries to decide which animal to be at his school’s Chinese New Year parade. Read to find out more about his teacher’s clever solution!
Home for Chinese New Year is a very sweet story about a father going to great lengths to return home for Chinese New Year. Jiajun’s father works in a city far from home, but takes a train, bus, three-wheeled motorcycle, and ferry before walking many miles to make it home to his family for Chinese New Year. Emphasizes the importance of being with family for the holiday, and the incredible efforts people make to celebrate this special holiday together, even if only for a few days.
A New Year’s Reunion is a very similar story of a little girl whose father builds houses far away and only comes home for a few days a year, at Chinese New Year. This book captures the mixed emotions the young girl feels – excitement as she waits for her father’s arrival but fear as he looks so different than she remembers, joy as they celebrate Chinese New Year together and finally sadness when he leaves again just a short time later.
A Gift also emphasizes the importance of family during Chinese New Year, even when it is impossible for everyone to be together. Amy’s mother is from China, and although Amy has uncles and an aunt there she’s never met, they always remember her during Chinese New Year. This year they send a special gift all the way from China, to show their love and bring her luck for the new year.
In New Year we meet a young boy who has just moved to Los Angeles from Hong Kong. At first he is excited to go to school, but he quickly becomes frustrated when he doesn’t understand anyone else, except for another Chinese student who is embarrassed to talk to him in Chinese. Yet with help from his teacher (also an immigrant, from Mexico) and his mother, he learns to be proud of where he is from. Through his art, he gains confidence and shares with the other students his special memories of Chinese New Year.
If the story of a little girl walking through the woods to give her grandmother a present sounds familiar, don’t worry! In Ruby’s Chinese New Year no one gets eaten by a wolf. In fact, all of the animals Ruby meets on her journey are friendly and want to help her take a special Chinese New Year card to Grandmother. A clever way to introduce children to the animals of the zodiac and learn about the true spirit of Chinese New Year along the way! Includes additional information about the zodiac and Chinese New Year crafts.
When Xingling learns from her PoPo (grandmother) about the Nian monster who used to terrorize the countryside every year on Lunar New Year, she never imagines it will come back to life! In The Nian Monster, this clever girl must figure out how to use the traditions of Chinese New Year to defeat the Nian Monster before it devours her and the whole city of Shanghai! Beautifully told story that not only showcases many of the features of Chinese New Year but also landmarks of Shanghai.
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas is a fun retelling of the classic tale, this time set during Chinese New Year. Poor Goldy Luck just can’t catch a break. She tries to help her mother delivers a plate of turnip cakes to their neighbors (a family of pandas), but instead ends up stumbling into their apartment when they aren’t home, spilling the cakes, eating a whole bowl of congee, breaking a rocking chair, and – to top it all off – falling asleep in the little one’s bed! Find out how Goldy turns her situation around and finally finds some good luck to start off the new year. Includes a recipe for turnip cakes.
Inspired by the Danish folktale the Talking Pot, The Runaway Wok tells the story of a poor family in Beijing, who wishes they had enough food for a proper Chinese New Year feast to share with their neighbors. When the son finds an old, battered wok at the market, he is shocked when it begins to sing to him! Sure it must be magic, he brings it home, and soon the wok goes to work to make this a Chinese New Year to remember for this generous family and the other poor families of Beijing.
In The Runaway Rice Cake it’s the food itself that’s on the run. The Chang family only has enough rice flour to make one rice cake for the whole family to share for Chinese New Year, but when it is ready, it jumps up and runs out the door! The resolution to the story emphasizes not simply cleverness but kindness and generosity. In the end, the family is rewarded for their selflessness when they (and their rice cake) find someone in even greater need than themselves.
If you have a Curious George fan in your house, you won’t want to miss Curious George Dragon Dance. This time George’s curiosity leads him to investigate a Chinese New Year parade and help a new friend by becoming a lion dancer! Includes a craft.
Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year is different from the others because it follows a real life boy as he gets ready to be a lion dancer for Chinese New Year. It is chock full of beautiful photos of this family as they prepare for and celebrate in New York City’s Chinatown.
Max Celebrates Chinese New Year is part of an easy reader series. In this simple story, Max learns all about Chinese New Year as he helps his friend Lily and her family celebrate. A good introduction to basic traditions of the holiday.
The Year of the Dog is told from the point of view of a Chinese American girl, one of the only non-Caucasians in her town. According to her mother, the Year of the Dog is all about finding yourself, so the young girl struggles with her identity: Should she be called Pacy (her Chinese name) or Grace (her American name)? Is she American or Chinese or Taiwanese, or can she be all three? And can she find her own special talent before the Year of the Dog is over? Author Grace Lin started the Pacy Lin series because it was the kind of book she wished she could have read when she was growing up. Pacy/Grace faces problems any child will recognize (whether a crush likes her, getting a role in the school production of The Wizard of Oz), but these are sometimes complicated by her background (can Dorothy be Chinese?) The characters in the book are so well-written, and the story is both poignant and quite funny. And what pulls it all together is the idea of Chinese New Year, and how the concept of the Year of the Dog shapes Grace/Pacy’s quest for identity. While most children’s novels take place over a summer or over one school year, this one starts and finishes on Chinese New Year. Will one year be enough time to find herself? Highly recommended.
What are your favorite Chinese New Year books for kids?
Welcome to our fifth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on February 5. It is the beginning of the Year of the Pig, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2017, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:
Inspire a love of learning in your children or students with these beautiful new diverse children’s books. They cover topics from philosophy and art to science, technology, geography, and math, so you’re sure to find something for everyone!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
I (Heart) Art: The Work We Love from The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a gorgeous book guaranteed to turn any reader – young or old – into an art lover. I love that it encompasses such a variety of media and artists and that it is divided into themes, including people, animals, and transportation. And it can be enjoyed at different levels – younger children may simply enjoy the 150+ works of art, while older children can read more about the works in the accompanying text. This is a book to be savored and enjoyed again and again.
I have to admit that when I received Eggsistential Thoughts by Gudetama the Lazy Egg and its companion Gudetama’s Guide to Life, I wasn’t sure how to approach them. Were they philosophy books for kids, or satire? Fortunately my kids got Gudetama and his lazy attitude right away. They loved him! They laughed and laughed at the drawings (especially his little bottom), but they also imbibed some philosophical concepts, such as conflict management and optimism vs pessimism. Because ultimately Gudetama is profound and comical at the same time. Find out more about the Gudetama phenomenon in the context of Japanese culture, and just trust me, your kids will love these books, and so will you!
Another book sure to inspire a love of learning is The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague, a lovely picture book biography about a young African-American girl who pursued her dream of becoming an engineer, despite the racism and sexism she faced every step of the way. Encouraged by her family, Montague’s hard work and determination eventually paid off. She won over those that were initially against her, and she is now credited with pioneering new methods of ship design. I love that this beautiful picture book includes at the back a timeline of Montague’s life, a more in-depth biography for older children, and even an interview with Montague herself!
Did you know that the first person to publish a book of photographs was a woman? Learn more in the new picture book The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs. The ethereal illustrations portray Anna’s fascination with plant life and her work as a botanist. She used incredibly detailed drawings to record her findings, but when cyanotype photography came along, she turned to this new technology instead. Her 1843 book on British algae is considered the first book of photographs ever published. A lovely tribute to this pioneer of science and art.
In many ways, Yasmin is a typical second grader: curious, full of energy, and still gaining confidence in her own talents. Her map of the neighborhood helps her when she gets lost at the Farmer’s Market, and she overcomes her initial frustration in order to contribute to a group project at school. But in the new early chapter book Meet Yasmin!, we also learn that in many ways Yasmin is beautifully unique: she calls her father Baba rather than Daddy, her mother wears a hijab, and Yasmin loves to dress up in her mom’s colorful saris.
Her family is Pakistani-American, and while the stories are ones any child can relate to, the cultural richness comes through in the details: a portrait of Malala in Yasmin’s bedroom, her mother ordering naan bread at the bakery. But what really shines through is the sparkling spirit of this young girl, especially her curiosity and love of learning.
Bonus materials at the back include information about Pakistan, a recipe, and a craft idea!
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.
MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board
I love word games; they are such a great way to get kids to engage with language and have fun with the vocabulary and grammar they are learning. They are also wonderful for getting their imaginations going! Inspired by some amazing new children’s books about magical creatures (see more below!), I’ve created a series of unicorn word games and writing prompts, complete with a printable.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Unicorn Word Games and Writing Prompts with Printable
The printable below can be used either for oral word games or as writing prompts. Just right click on the image to save and print! And don’t miss my reviews at the end of the wonderful books that inspired these games!
Clip art courtesy of Innovation Press.
There are four unicorn word games, presented here from the most simple to the most complex. The first two can be done individually, while the last two are done in a group. All, especially #2-4, can be played multiple times. The idea is for the students to be creative, so they should feel free to make silly sentences, not just straightforward ones!
1. Imagine. At its most basic, the printable can be used as a straightforward writing prompt, helping students get creative about imagining their unicorn. The very young can simply draw a picture if the writing is too much.
2. Pick a Letter. For this variation, assign letters of the alphabet randomly, or have students draw them out of a bag or hat. They then have to complete each part of the prompt using words that start with that letter. For example, if someone draws an “S,” they could say “My unicorn lives in Spain. Its favorite food is spaghetti. In its free time it likes to swim.” Again, students get to exercise their creativity but with an extra challenge.
3. Challenge Your Friends. In this variation, the students work in small groups. One student starts by completing the first sentence. (This can either be done by drawing a letter as in variation #2, or by their own choice). The next person completes the second sentence and the last person completes the final sentence – but they each have to pick words that start with the same letter as the word chosen by the first student. For example, if the first student says, “My unicorn lives in Queens,” the next student might say, “Its favorite food is quiche,” and the last might say, “In its free time it likes to quilt.”
4. Challenge Your Friends to the End. This variation is similar to the previous one, except that now each student must pick a word that starts with the last letter of the word chosen by the previous student. So if the first student says, “My unicorn lives in Bolivia,” the next might say, “Its favorite food is apple pie,” and the last might say, “In its free time it likes to eat.”
Magical Books for Kids
I was inspired to create these unicorn word games because of two magical new children’s books from the amazing Innovation Press. Be sure to check them out – your kids will thank you!
My children were drawn to Miss Turie’s Magic Creatures right away – I mean, just look at that cover! The artwork in this book is incredible, as readers join a little boy in a shop of magical creatures, all in hopes of finding the perfect pet. But, would you want to take home a dragon or a kraken? What would it really be like to have them as pets, breathing fire in your room or swimming in your bubble bath? A wonderfully fun read for children of a wide range of ages. All of my children love reading this book again and again. My older children especially like poring over the catalog of mythical creatures at the back, which explains in more detail each magical creature featured in the book.
Unicorns and Germs (Zoey and Sassafras) is the latest installment in the beloved series about a resourceful girl who uses the scientific method and creativity to help magical creatures. In this adventure, Zoey and her trusty cat Sassafras must find a way to help a baby unicorn with its hurt leg. (In one of my favorite jokes of the book, it’s revealed that unicorns are actually gigantic creatures, meaning that the baby unicorn Zoey helps is named Tiny – though he seems “ginormous” to her!) My kindergartner and I read this book together, and it was gratifying to me to see how the story makes science both practical and fun at the same time. And just plain cool because you can use it to help unicorns, hello!
Don’t miss these and other great books from Innovation Press and have fun with these unicorn word games!
Take your kids around the world this holiday season by hosting an around the world holiday party! It’s the perfect way for a school club or a homeschool group to celebrate this festive season.
Host an Around the World Holiday Party for Kids
Last year we started a World Explorers Club in our homeschool group. Each month we get together to learn about a different country with the kiddos. Earlier this month the World Explorers Club put on our second annual around the world holiday party. Everyone had a blast!
Each family picks a country to represent and shows how a popular winter holiday is celebrated there.
At our party this year we learned about Christmas in Sweden, Russia, Italy, UK, and the Netherlands; Hanukkah in Israel; Diwali in India; Chinese New Year in China; and Ayyám-i-Há. (The Bahá’í holiday of Ayyám-i-Há was a bit of an exception, since it isn’t based in any one country).
For their chosen country, each family prepares 1) a craft or activity, 2) a traditional treat. So, for example, last year our family did the Philippines, so the kids made a version of a traditional star decoration and sampled some homemade coconut milk cake. For India (Diwali) this year we brought ladoos to share and helped the kids make paper diyas. For Sweden, the kids crafted some adorable Christmas gnomes and decorated cookies, while for Israel (Hanukkah) they played dreidel to win chocolate coins.
We have done this two different ways, so see which works for your group! Both times, we set up “stations” around the room, generally one country per table, and the kids could spread out and take turns visiting each.
Last year, the food and the craft were at each station, whereas this year we moved all the treats to a food table and saved them until the end. They were only able to get the food after completing a quiz about the countries they had learned about!
The holiday quiz! They had to work together to answer the questions before they could have their treats 🙂
Whichever way you do it, make sure to have their first stop by a station where kids decorate treat bags. They’ll need one to collect all the crafts they will be making! This is a great activity for them to do as people are arriving and setting up.
Next year, we definitely have to add a Mexican style piñata!
December 13, 2018Book Reviews, ChristmasComments Off on New Christmas Picture Books to Brighten Your Holiday
The holidays are the perfect time to snuggle up together and share some cozy moments over a good book. Well, I have not one but five wonderful new Christmas picture books to share with you, all of them guaranteed to brighten your holiday! So take a break from the hustle and bustle, grab your kids and some mugs of cocoa, and curl up with these new holiday favorites.
Disclosure: I was sent complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
New Christmas Picture Books to Brighten Your Holiday
My kids love ninjas! So why I was very excited to receive North Pole Ninjas: MISSION: Christmas! to review. Who would have thought there would be ninjas at the North Pole? But they are so useful to do all those secret jobs that need to be done to spread kindness everywhere! The pictures are adorable, and I love the rhyming text, but my FAVORITE part is that it comes with 50 top secret missions of kindness that kids can do, like donating food to the local food bank, or drawing a holiday picture for relatives. What a great way to have kids focus on the spirit of the season!
Another book that really helps kids focus on what’s important is My Little Gifts: A Book of Sharing (Growing Hearts). This is a beautifully done book with plenty of cleverly done flaps for little hands to open. It helps children realize that gifts don’t have to be wrapped under the tree, they can be hugs and kisses, or helping someone, or letting your sister decide which jam to try. I should mention that this book is not specifically for Christmas, but great for any time of year.
All Aboard! The Christmas Train is soooo fun for little readers! It opens up into a train, plus each car opens up to see the passengers inside! My kids love laying this book out on the floor to read it. As their mom, I love that it incorporates so many fun little learning activities, like counting the number of skiers, or looking for Santa’s missing boot! So colorful and fun!
Decked Out for Christmas! is a really cute board book to help younger kids get excited about Christmas time. A group of mice pull out all the decorations (included a cheese star!) fit for a wonderful Christmas tree, but soon it becomes obvious they aren’t decorating a tree! Great twist and a special appearance by a present-giving mouse at the end.
I love finding bilingual books for all occasions, so I was happy to review Doggy Claus / Perro Noel (English and Spanish Edition). It is a sweet story of a shelter dog who wants to bring some holiday cheer to the other animals. In the end he discovers that the best presents aren’t toys but rather friendship. Really cute book with a great message!
Part of our character building classes is teaching children about heroes in Bahá’í history and how they can emulate their qualities. Bahiyyih Khanum, daughter of the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, is a leading Bahá’í heroine and holds a unique place in religious history. In these lessons, the children studied a prayer and learned about her qualities of service and leadership.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Bahá’í History Lesson: Bahiyyih Khanum
Also known by the title Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahiyyih Khanum was born in 1846, the daughter of Bahá’u’lláh and His wife Navváb. She was only a child when her family was forced from their homes and, along with the other members of her family, spent the rest of her life as an exile.
She also holds the distinction of being the first woman in religious history to lead a worldwide faith community. When her older brother ‘Abdu’l-Bahá died in 1921, Bahiyyih Khanum assumed the helm of the Bahá’í community, shepherding it through some of its most difficult times, as it prepared to transition to the leadership of the young Shoghi Effendi. Grownups can read more about her extraordinary life in Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Baha’i Faith.
The children’s class activities outlined below were taught over two classes and focused on Bahiyyih Khanum’s qualities of service and leadership, as well as teaching about the Holy Family.
For some aspects, like the prayer book, we did half during one lesson and half during the other. The other activities you can divide between two (or three) lessons as you see fit.
Children’s Prayer: “O Thou Kind Lord”
At the beginning of each class, after our opening prayers, we studied the following prayer from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “O Thou Kind Lord! These lovely children are the handiwork of the fingers of Thy might…” (read the whole prayer).
The children made a prayer book from two sheets of construction paper stapled together. During the first lesson, we pasted on the cover a copy of a photo of Bahiyyih Khanum (from the resource pages of the Core Curriculum Preschool lesson book). On the first inside page, they pasted a copy of a the first paragraph of the prayer. On the opposite page, they traced their hands, to go along with the idea of “handiwork.” Their homework was to read over and begin to memorize the first paragraph of the prayer.
During the next lesson, they pasted the second paragraph on the next page of the prayer book, which includes “…enable them to render service to the world of humanity.” On the opposite page, they drew pictures of things they could do to help others.
On the last set of pages, they pasted the final paragraph, which includes, “These children are pearls, cause them to be nurtured within the shell of Thy loving-kindness.” Then we folded over a piece of card stock and cut out a shell shape, being careful to have the top (the “hinge”) of the shell on the fold, so that the shell can open and close.
They then drew a heart on the outside of the shell (for “loving-kindness”) and a pearl on the inside. They then pasted the finished shell to the page opposite the final paragraph of the prayer.
Holy Family Tree
Next we focused on learning about the life of Bahiyyih Khanum, first by helping the children understand how she fits into the Holy Family (the family of Bahá’u’lláh). For this, I drew on the expertise of my friend Melissa at Delighted Hearts, who worked with me to develop this beautiful Holy Family Tree, which children can use to help them understand the relationships between the members of Bahá’u’lláh’s family. Be sure to visit her website for the printable worksheet!
To learn about her life of service, I adapted a story from Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Baha’i Faith about when Bahiyyih Khanum was very young. Though she was just a small child and not very strong, she would still help to serve tea using a very heavy samovar, an act of service that impressed Bahá’u’lláh’s guests. I loved sharing this story with them, because it shows that even though they are young, they can still serve others and teach the Faith.
Since the children were not familiar with the samovars commonly used in Persia at that time, a local Bahá’í kindly loaned one to use to demonstrate.
Travel the world with your children through these beautiful children’s books about West Africa! Below you will find picture books about Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger. They range from biographies and folk tales to modern stories about life in West Africa today. Share your favorites in the comments!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Children’s Books About West Africa
Children’s Books About Mali
Sundiata: Lion King of Mali is the story of the legendary founder of the Mali empire. (The present day country of Mali takes its name from this medieval kingdom in West Africa and represents part of the territory that this powerful kingdom occupied at its height). Based on oral tradition, this telling focuses on the hardships Sundiata had to overcome. to become king. The cut paper illustrations are beautiful, and the narration mimics the cadences of the traditional griot storytellers. I highly recommend this book to combat the typical silence in most classrooms about the history of African kingdoms.
My kids love graphic novels, so I was thrilled to come across a comic version of the history of Sundiata. Sundiata: A Legend of Africa makes a thrilling read for any child who loves adventure. It has intrigue, battles, and magic – a surefire way to convince young readers that history is anything but boring!
If your child has any chance of reading about medieval West Africa in one of their history books, it will likely be about Mansa Musa, the celebrated king who distributed so much gold on his pilgrimage to Mecca that he caused inflation in Egypt and the surrounding areas for years after. After his trip, he became the only African king featured on European maps of the continent. Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali, gorgeously illustrated by the award-winning team Leo & Diane Dillon, tells of the powerful monarch whose fame carries down through history.
Never Forgotten, a Junior Library Guild selection, is a gorgeous picture book about a difficult subject – slavery. It reminds me a bit of Roots in that we come to know Musafa and his native Mali intimately before he is stolen away, so that we can more deeply appreciate the horror of what is lost and what might have been. Author Kissack, who dedicated herself to filling the gap in African American children’s literature, wrote that through this book she sought to “create a story that addresses that answers the question that all of us who are descendants of the Taken ask: ‘Were we missed?’ I answer with a resounding ‘Yes! We were never forgotten.” Illustrated by the same award-winning team that illustrated Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali above.
The Hatseller And The Monkeys is the first book on this list from Coretta Scott King Honor winner Baba Wagué Diakité, who was born and raised in a small village in Mali. This tale is one he heard as a boy from his uncle, a version of a story popular in many parts of the world about a seller who has his wares stolen by monkeys while napping. As always, Wagué takes the opportunity to teach his young readers about the culture and art of Mali, as in the wide-brimmed dibiri hats sold by the main character.
The Magic Gourd is also by Baba Wagué Diakité. (For a treat, flip to the back cover to see a picture of him with his daughters, one of whom would grow up to collaborate with her father on a book featured below!) The Magic Gourd is a fable about a kind rabbit who receives a magic gourd as a thank you after helping a chameleon. The gourd, which fills magically with whatever the owner desires, keeps Rabbit and his loved ones well fed even during a famine. Yet when the magic gourd is stolen by a greedy king, it takes another magical gift from the chameleon and the rabbit’s quick thinking to retrieve the gift and teach the king a lesson in friendship and generosity.
I Lost My Tooth in Africa is one of the most famous children’s books set in Africa. Written by Baba Wagué Diakité’s daughter Penda Diakité and illustrated by him, it is based on the true story of when Penda’s younger sister Amina lost her tooth while they were visiting their father’s homeland of Mali. She is so excited when she finds out that when you lose a tooth in Africa, the African tooth fairy will give you a chicken! My kids loved this story, perhaps especially because they can relate to experience of losing teeth – and of visiting another country where their father was born.
Gabrielle Emanuel, who now works for NPR, spent a year in Mali, working in the health sector. She often read to a young friend there and became appalled at the lack of books that reflected the local landscape and culture. Her book The Everlasting Embrace is a response to this need. It is a beautiful tribute to mothers and the close bond they create with their babies through the traditional practice of babywearing. As a mother goes through her day – grinding millet, going to the market – we see the world as experienced from the loving “cocoon” in which the child spends her days.
My Baby is another beautiful book about a mother’s love for her child. It showcases the art of bogolan, a traditional technique of painting cloth with specially prepared mud. Nakunte learns the art from her mother and uses it to make cloth for weddings and funerals, until she is finally ready to make a beautiful cloth for her own baby, decorated with symbols teaching the little one about the creatures of her home.
Children’s Books About Burkina Faso
The Water Princess is a beautifully done book based on the childhood memories of supermodel Georgie Badiel. A young girl dreams of having clean water close by, but instead she and her mother (along with many other women and girls) must spend much of their day walking miles to fill their jars with dusty water. My children could not believe that this was still a problem today and had trouble imagining what it would be like to have to work so hard just for a drink of water – and that the drink wouldn’t even be clean. There is more information about lack of access to clean water at the back of the book. You can find out even more from the Georgie Badiel Foundation, which has made providing clean, accessible water a cornerstone of its work in Burkina Faso.
All Aboard for the Bobo Road is a fun children’s book about the Fulani people of Burkina Faso, written by Stephen Davies, who spent ten years living among them as a missionary. It focuses on a common experience there – riding in a minibus! It is a beautiful, colorful ride past a lake full of hippos, by a waterfall and old rock domes, through the forest and into the big city. See for yourself why Davies calls this region one of his favorite places in the world.
Children’s Book About Niger
Though I found many books about other countries in West Africa (especially Mali), unfortunately I was only able to find one about Niger. Don’t Spill the Milk! comes from author Stephen Davies (see above), a missionary who spent ten years living in Burkina Faso and regularly visiting Mali and Niger. This is the sweet story of a Fulani girl carefully delivering milk to her father, who is tending sheep high in the grasslands. As she walks to see her father, we see many features of the region, including the endangered West African giraffe. A story of love and understanding between a father and daughter.
This post on children’s books about West Africa is part of a series from Kid World Citizen, gathering reviews of children’s books about the countries of Africa. Don’t miss this incredible collection, coming soon!