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Books for African Art

Constructing meaning from images develops visual literacy. Looking closely and discussing works of art, picture books, and texts helps young learners make meaning. NCMA has partnered with NC Cardinal to develop a list of children’s books and programs to help families and schools engage in learning about African art and cultures.

Children’s Book List to Explore African Art and Culture

Borrow one of the books below from your local library. All libraries participating in the NC Cardinal Library system have each of these titles available:

  1. Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan 
  2. For You Are A Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane
  3. Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock by Eric Kimmel 
  4. We All Went On Safari: A Counting Journey Through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs 
  5. Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa by Gerald McDermott 
  6. Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis 
  7. One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway
  8. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe 
  9. Thank you, Omu! by Oge Mora
  10. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong

Discussing Art and Children’s Books

As you read each book, pause occasionally to encourage close looking. Here are questions to help guide discussion:

  • What do you see?
  • What in the picture makes you think that?
  • What does picture remind you of?
  • How do you think the artist made that image?

Consider exploring one of works of art below by African artist. You can use the same questions to encourage close looking and providing evidence of what they think based on what is in the image. Have the child choose an image to learn more about four works of art that relate to the concepts in the children’s books above. Take a few minutes to learn more about the work of art and then discuss what was the most interesting and surprising. How is the artist exploring the concepts in the books?