Books

Top 5 children's books set in Africa, chosen by Efua Traoré

The Nigerian-German children's author and short story writer selects five books that bring the African continent to vivid life

Image: Freeimages.com / picspree

1 Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini 

An absolutely adorable picture book with a mischievous giant chicken, a funny wood spirit, the famous Nigerian New Yam festival and beautiful masquerades.  

2 Jummy at the River School by Sabine Adeyinka 

Tales of Nigerian childhood light up this vibrant boarding school story. I was thrown back into my childhood by the fun, chants, midnight feasts and adventures. A joyful book about friendship, being loyal and fighting for what is right.  

3 Children of the Benin Kingdom by Dinah Orji 

As a child who once lived in Benin city, I was fascinated by stories of the ancient Benin Kingdom. This insightful historical tale takes you on a thrilling journey to the 12th century, plunging you into culture, traditions and daily life of the ancient civilisation.  

4 Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tola Okogwu 

The House of Shells by Efua Traoré is out now (Chicken House, £7.99)

This fantasy series set in a brilliant evocation of futuristic Nigeria tells the story of a girl who discovers superpowers in her afro hair. An empowering, action-filled story with lovable characters, fun friends and dark family secrets.  

5 Africa Amazing Africa by Atinuke, illustrated by Mouni Feddag 

I was delighted to discover this gorgeously illustrated book. Finally, instructive and enjoyable non-fiction for kids that does justice to the vivid diversity of Africa. This book picks out little special things in each country. Every page is a celebration.  

You can buy The House of Shells from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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