13 Fabulous African Picture Books For Your Toddler

If you’re looking for something to read to your little ones this festive season, here are some fabulous African Story Books you should check out. You probably have some of them on your bookshelves.

I chose them based on how entertaining their storylines are and their colourful, quirky illustrations. Your toddler will want to hear them over and over again.

The storybooks are also a great way to unwind and bond with your little one, excellent choices for bedtime reading.

Source by How Wee Learn

So, in no particular order here goes…

13 Awesome and Beautifully Crafted African Story Books For Your Toddler

PS: This post has no affiliate links to them which means I WILL not receive any commission should you make a purchase through a provided link. These are only my personal favs and shops I usually buy books from. 

1. The African Adventure of Sena and Katlego: South Africa

The African Adventure of Sena and Katlego by Carol Ofori

By Carol Ofori and Art by Sasha Richards
Published by Lingua Franca Publishers (2022)
Language: English
A fun and educational kids’ book series that celebrates Africa and its various countries, landscapes, traditions, and more. This six-set series celebrates the beauty of Africa through the main character Sena and his magical teddy bear, Katlego. When Sena closes his eyes and rubs Katlego’s nose, he can magically visit anywhere in Africa that he imagines. Sena and Katlego go on an adventure to South Africa, Egypt, Chad, Ghana, Uganda, and eSwatini.
Get it from Loot OR Ethnikids

2. My Daddy is a Silly Monkey

My Daddy is a Silly Monkey by Diamme Hofmeyer

By Dianne Hofmeyer and Art by UK illustrator Carol Thompson
Published by Tafelberg (2017)
My daddy is . . . a great big bear, a naughty crocodile, a whirly, twirly octopus, and a very SILLY monkey! But most of all he’s just my LOVELY DADDY. This beautiful picture book is a heartwarming celebration of fathers everywhere.
Get it from Takealot

3. Why Dog is Afraid of Storms

Why Dog is Afraid of Storm by Maryanne Bester

By Maryanne Bester and Art by Shayle Bester
Published by Jacana Media (2011)
Language: Multi-Language
Have you ever wondered why dogs are so afraid of thunderstorms? Do you ask yourself why their eyes grow wild, why they shiver and shake and hide away? Find out how the mischievous cattle trick Dog into letting them out of their kraal.
Get it from Kirstenbosch Bookshop OR Exclusive Books

4. Diphoofolo: A multilingual collection of rhymes from South Africa

Diphoofolo by New Africa Books

Published by New Africa Books
Language: Multi-Language
’Diphoofolo’ is the Sotho word for animals. Diphoofolo is a multilingual collection of animal rhymes from South Africa – the frog, pig, hawk, butterfly, hare, spider and ostrich will delight young children. Each rhyme appears in its language of origin and as an English adaptation
Get it from New Africa Books

5. The Bok Who Lost His Spring

The Bok Who lost His Spring by Marleen Lammers

By Marleen Lammers and Art by Gwendolene van der Merwe
Publisher Penguin Books (2022)
Language: English
What is a Springbok without his spring? Just a … bok? When poor Springbok loses his spring, it is up to his friends to help him find it again – with hilarious consequences. A humorous and touching story about recognizing what makes you special, and the power of friendship.
Get it from Loot OR Wordsworth Books

6. The Ugly Five

The Ugly Five by Julia Donaldson

By Julia Donaldson and Art by Axel Scheffler
Published by Alison Green Books (2018)
Language: English
Inspired by the real-life Ugly Five safari animals, THE UGLY FIVE is a jubilant celebration of creatures that are often rather unloved. The animals proudly rejoice in their ugliness, while their babies tell them they’re perfect just the way they are. A funny, heart-warming rhyme that is a joy to read aloud, with bold, comical illustrations. From the bestselling author and illustrator duo of The
Get it from Loot

7. Melo’s Kingdom – Storytime Adventures in the African Bush

Melo’s Kingdom by Thuli Madonsela

By Thuli Madonsela with Wenzile Khulekile and Zedekiah Msimanga
Published by Christian Art Publishers (2020)
Language: English
Melo’s Kingdom takes children on a wonderful adventure to the African bush with Melo and her special animal friends. Each of the charming stories explores an African proverb and incorporates biblical principles to inspire and educate children engagingly. The stories written by Thuli Madonsela and members of her family, highlight the importance of values like honesty, courage, respect, teamwork, and kindness while exploring the wonders of creation.
Get it from Reader’s Warehouse

8. Shudu Finds Her Magic

Shudu by Shudufhadza Musida

Story by Shudufhadza Musida and Art by Chantelle & Burgen Thorne
Publisher: Jacana Media 2021
Language: Multi-Languages
In this courageous and beautiful book, Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida, tells the story of her upbringing; as a delightful and outgoing girl in Ha-Vhangani, a small Venda village. She is surrounded by a loving extended family. However, things for Shudu take a turn for the worst when she moves to Mpumalanga to live with her mom. At her new school, Shudu is bullied by her classmates. Read how Shudu overcomes her sadness and her challenges and grows into a girl, and then an adult, who has learned to love herself!
Get it from Reader’s Warehouse

9. I have Brown Skin and Curly Hair

I have Brown Skin and Curly Hair by Karen Theunissen

Story by Karen Theunissen and Art by Charles Gibbons
Publisher Jacana 2020
Language: English
Everyone in this family looks different. Dad is tall and dark. Mum has light brown hair with green eyes. Some of the children have straight hair; others have curls. People regard them curiously until, one day, one of the children musters the courage to speak up proudly about her identity after she learns where she comes from and why she looks different. The book takes children through the unique and often untold history of South Africa, explaining how a mixed-race heritage can contribute to their physical differences, and yet they can still be part of one family. This book can also be used by educators or parents who wish to teach their children about diversity.
Get it from The Book Haven Or Exclusive Books

10. Haniyah Discovers Diversity

Haniyah Discovers Diversity by Kariema Taliep Davids

By Kariema Taliep Davids and Art by Kariema Taliep Davids

Language: English
We celebrate the story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life. The story encourages enthusiasm for learning and respect for the World’s Diversity. Representing ‘Universal Love’ and it seeks to educate children to be the leaders of tomorrow
Get it from Kariema Taliep Davids

Related story: Coffee With Children’s Book Author Kariema Taliep Davids 

11. Ink

Ink By Ingrid Menned

By Ingrid Mennen, art by Irene Berg
Publisher: Tafelberg Publishers 2017
Language: English & Afrikaans
Tinka becomes aware of words, language, and writing. She names her family members one by one: her mum, her dad, her little brother Slip, her sister Rosie, and baby Jas. She draws a paper doll resembling a girl like herself on a sheet of newsprint. The paper doll is named ‘Ink’. Tinka introduces her new friend to all her favourite story books, because, ‘A book is like a friend, with the best stories to tell. Thought-provoking and captivating, this picture book will appeal to young readers 4+.
Get it from Loot OR Graffiti Books

12. I am Earth: A story from South Africa (All SA lang including Siswati)

I am Earth by Thembinkosi Kohli

By Thembinkosi Kohli
Published by New Africa Books 2018
Language: Multi-Language
What is the story of the earth? The sun, the tree, the bird, and me are all connected. We look after the earth and it looks after us. We are earth. In this exciting new children’s book, Thembinkosi Kohli’s illustrations encourage young readers to connect with the world they live in.
Get it from Bridge Books OR   New Africa Books

13. Wonderfully Made

Wonderfully Made by Tswhanelo Serumola

Story by Tshwanelo Seremola and Art by Subi Bosa
Published by Pan Macmillan SA 2022
Language: English, Afrikaans, Setswana, and isiXhosa
Wonderfully made is a book of positive affirmations for brown girls of all shades, sizes, and shapes. This book teaches girls to not only embrace but to truly celebrate their unique appearance and talents while encouraging them to dream big and to be creative. Build confidence and resilience from a young age with easy-to-follow rhyming text and bright inclusive illustrations that reflect proudly South African children.
Get it from Book Lounge OR Reader’s Warehouse

Wrapping it Up

African children’s stories are more accessible than ever before – in African and non-African languages alike. I applaud organizations such as  Little Zebra Books. They’re a non-profit organization that creates beautiful books in different African languages for children in Africa.

Here in SA, Western Cape particularly,  they have been in the process of developing a collection of bilingual and trilingual books for children in isiXhosa, Afrikaans, and English.
Click here to view their current titles: Litte Zebra Books

Happy Reading!



Coffee With Children’s Book Author, Kariema Taliep Davids 

A week ago, Kariema Taliep Davids, a children’s book author and entrepreneur invited me for coffee at her house in Wetton, Cape Town. We spoke about her journey to becoming a self-published author, her love for reading, and how her first grandchild, Haniyah, led to her publishing a children’s book.

After two hours of chit-chat, we finally settled down over coffee and freshly made donuts baked by her daughter-in-law.

Moenie dink nie, doen net

“Moenie dink nie, doen net’ is an Afrikaans phrase Kariema heard while watching a TV program, ‘BALLADE VIR N ENKELING.’ One of the main characters who was a writer said ’Moenie dink nie, doen net!’

“This phrase stuck in my mind forever. And it works for me. Like if one writes down a To-do list, you get only a few things done on that list. But when you want to do something, just do it.That works wonders for me.’’

Meet Author and Entrepreneur, Kariema Taliep Davids

Children's Book Author
Kariema Talipe Davids

Kariema is a 55-year-old mother of two boys and two grandchildren. Her love for reading and writing started more than 30 years ago. As a child, she belonged to the Jellybean Journal (a Weekend Argus initiative) and the Junior Argus. She would send in her drawings and poems on a weekly basis.

During the COVID Lockdown 3, Kariema spent much time with her grandchild Haniyah. She noticed Haniyah’s fascination for books and animals. It was then that Kariema realized that this was what she wanted to do all along to write her first children’s book.

Haniya and the Pink Rabbit: Book 1

Haniyah and the Pink Rabbit

In November 2020, Kariema wrote Haniyah and the Pink Rabbit and did all the illustrations herself. She needed the book to be an original hand-drawn book and not digital images and computer graphics. This would be her greatest achievement.

The Blurb

Haniyah and the Pink Rabbit is inspired by grandchild Haniyah who loves her “pink rabbit’’ toy that she takes with her everywhere. It is a delightful tale full of Love and Compassion with adorable illustrations of Haniyah and her special friend. It is a warm story that children will adore keeping little readers entertained and helping them to learn about Caring and Sharing.

“By March 2021, I self-published my first book ‘Haniyah AND THE PINK RABBIT’. In May 2021 I started to write my second book, ‘Haniyah GOES TO SCHOOL’. I finished in August 2021 and self-published in November 2021.’’

Haniya Goes To School Book 2

Haniyah goes to School

The Blurb

Haniya Goes to School is a book about a little boy who is different and who stretches himself to succeed and earn self-esteem. He was bullied and taunted. He accepted his imperfections and his Courage to face fear and move forward, has turned him into a brave little heart, who everyone looks up to. The story is Comforting and Inspiring.

Her theme for the books is life lessons for kids. Her plan is to get the books into the school’s curriculum.

As we are chatting, her phone keeps beeping. The design company needed to confirm the layout of her released book, Haniyah Discovers Identity, book 3 of the Haniyah book series. The launch was on November 5, November 2022.

Haniyah Discovers Identity: Book 3

Haniyah discovers diversity

The Blurb

We celebrate the story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life. It is the story that encourages enthusiasm for learning and respect for the World’s Diversity. Representing ‘Universal Love’ and it seeks to educate children to be the leaders of tomorrow

Treating Her Books As A Business Investment

As a self-published author, Kariema explained how exhausting and costly publishing your own book can be. Her first book was published in 2021. It was at the time our country’s national Coronavirus Command Council had decided to enforce a nationwide lockdown. The accumulated costs of publishing, marketing, and distribution skyrocketed.

“Financing your book is a lot of money. There’s a lot of money involved, the graphic designer, the printer, the editors, and the proof-readers. The whole printing of the book is expensive. And then there is printing of flyers, people to do social media for you, and the fuel of driving up and down.’’

However, it is not all gloom for the indie publisher. Kariema adds with self-publishing you should be able to wear many hats. Going solo means having 100% creative control over the book publishing process and being involved in many aspects of the publishing process.

And when it comes to book marketing, Kariema is her own brand ambassador. She put up her own website and created social media accounts for her customers to have easy access to her. On different days Kariema visits schools and libraries for book readings.

Newspaper clip from Kariema Davids Book Launch

Most of her sales are generated through her own efforts. Her customers buy books directly from her. And has managed to list the books at Takealot and Amazon including Clarke’s bookstore in Cape Town.

What’s next for Kariema Taliep Davids

“My family has an author in the family now. I need to go for an overseas holiday to celebrate as I am climbing the ladder of success. I am not there yet, however the feeling is great.’’

Her list for next year includes writing two more books. She will be doing a follow-up storybook on her grandson later this year. Adding to this Kariema says she has already started working on her next Book 2 of the Trilogy, “A Passionate Love’ – The Masqued Love series. Her first adult fiction called, A Passionate Love is a racy romance novel for adults only.

The Blurb

A Passionate Love is a story set in London and Paris. It is based on an English girl, Catherine Darcy Evans, and a French man, Jacques Dupont. They fall madly in love. Catherine is a widow who lost her husband and is unaware her new love was involved in her husband’s death.

A Passionate Love

Kariema Taliep Davids is inspirational. An hour date turned into three hours of laughter, real talk, and great coffee.

Last Words From Kariema Taliep Davids

‘’Don’t be discouraged by people, follow your heart, follow your dream. If your manuscripts are lying around for many years,send it for submission. Moenie dink nie, doen net!’’

For more information about Kariema Taliep Davids and should you want to purchase her books, visit her website https://ktdbooks.co.za
You can buy her books Online: Takealot and Amazon
Children’s books: R150 per book
Novel R300
Contact her on 063 864 1701

Related topic: Meet The Author: 10-Year-Old Award-Winning Author – Stacey Fru

Before You Go

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Chat soon,