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.
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
By Carol Ofori and Art by Sasha Richards
Published by Lingua Franca Publishers (2022)
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
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
By Maryanne Bester and Art by Shayle Bester
Published by Jacana Media (2011)
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
Published by New Africa Books
’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
By Marleen Lammers and Art by Gwendolene van der Merwe
Publisher Penguin Books (2022)
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
By Julia Donaldson and Art by Axel Scheffler
Published by Alison Green Books (2018)
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
By Thuli Madonsela with Wenzile Khulekile and Zedekiah Msimanga
Published by Christian Art Publishers (2020)
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
Story by Shudufhadza Musida and Art by Chantelle & Burgen Thorne
Publisher: Jacana Media 2021
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
Story by Karen Theunissen and Art by Charles Gibbons
Publisher Jacana 2020
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
By Kariema Taliep Davids and Art by Kariema Taliep Davids
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
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)
By Thembinkosi Kohli
Published by New Africa Books 2018
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
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