Monday, November 17, 2014


The 2014 winners of the Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) have been honored this month in Washington, D.C., for writing the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published in the United States. The awards were started by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association in 1991.

This year’s winners are:
  • Desmond Tutu & Douglas Abrams, A.G. Ford (illus.) Desmond and the Very Mean Word  (Candlewick)
  • Anna Cottrell & Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah, Kwabena Poku (illus) Once Upon a Time in Ghana (Afram)
  • Monica Edinger, Robert Byrd (illus) Africa is My Home:Child of the Amistad (Candlewick)
  • Mubina Kirmani, Tony Siema (illus.) Bundle of Secrets: Savita Returns Home (Create Space)

In social studies and language arts classes for any grade level, these books and the many previous award winners offer a perfect opportunity for cultural immersion and compare/contrast writing exercises on a very personal level.  

Ask each child to select one of the award-winning books - encourage your school library to begin collecting the CABA winners - or use other titles that focus on children or families in another country. As they read, children should keep a 3 x 5 card with notes that will enable them to answer three questions. The notes may simply be single words that will jog their memory later.
1.     How is your daily life similar to children in the book?
2.     What is different about your ordinary days and theirs?
3.     If you went to the country portrayed in the book, what would you most want to see or do?

Children may discover different ways of cooking a meal or cleaning clothes but they may also find what they have in common.  During a Skype session I moderated with American and Egyptian fourth graders, an American boy asked, “What is your favorite food?”  An Egyptian girl answered without hesitation, “pizza and hamburgers,” bringing surprised giggles and a palpable sense of connected-ness between children thousands of miles apart. 

If you want to expand the experience, find authors in other countries who want to do the same by visiting Skype in the Classroom or Global Friends.  The Africa Access website also has many teaching resources.

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