Literature & Language
Getting Started on Literature on Africa
- How to Not Discuss African Fiction by Ainehi Edoro
This excellent short piece by Ainehi Edoro highlights common biases that are made when evaluating African literature. A must read!
- Tips and Ideas on teaching African Literature
A selection of books, poems, epics, and short stories to begin teaching African literature in elementary, middle or high school.
- Criteria for Evaluating Materials on Africa
Africa Access has developed key questions and criteria to consider when assessing children’s and adult literature on Africa.
- A Guide to Selecting Multicultural Literature: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff
An article by Barbara Brown on using literature to foster an inclusive and culturally responsive curriculum.
- Selecting Books on Africa, A Response to “Safari Sojourns”
This article, written by Barbara Brown, Lesego Malepe, and Jo Sullivan, published in Moral, Social and Civic Issues in 1996 discusses key criteria for using African children’s literature, including an emphasis on children’s lives, a focus on one country, and other useful approaches.
- How to Write about Africa, by Binyavanga Wainaina
A good place to start with middle school or high school students may be Binyavanga Wainana’s satirical essay that critiques the ways Africa has been written about in Western texts. Originally published in 2005, this short text has become a classic.
- Literature on Colonialism
An annotated list of literature to use when teaching about colonialism and resistance.
- African Literature Worksheet
A short list of questions to ask your students as they read texts about Africa, developed by Anne Sirkin.
- African Literature Group at the African Studies Center, Boston University
This adult group has been meeting for over 10 years to read and discuss African literature. Click to see what books they have read over the years (with short summaries).
Children’s Africana Book Awards
The Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) are presented annually to the authors and illustrators of the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published or republished in the U.S. Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) created CABA in 1991 to encourage the publication and use of accurate, balanced children’s materials about Africa.
CABA has three major objectives (1) to encourage the publication of children’s and young adult books that contribute to a better understanding of African societies and issues, (2) to recognize literary excellence, and (3) to acknowledge the research achievements of outstanding authors and illustrators.
The awards are presented in three categories: Young Children, Older Readers and New Adult (books marketed to adults but suitable for mature teens).
Bibliographies & Read-Alouds
- Bibliography of African Children’s Literature
- Historical Fictions Bibliography
- Rain Poems
- A Short List of Recommended Books for all Ages
- Middle School Literature
- Sankofa Read-Alouds
This youtube Channel features hundreds of African and African American children’s picture books, read-aloud in their entirety. For teachers seeking to provide e-books to students who may not have access to libraries or may not be able to buy them, this is a most excellent resource to promote engagement with African and African American literature.
- Audiobook Excerpts: The Caine Prize in African Literature has a Soundcloud, with over 40 tracks of read excerpts from winners and shortlisted books.
Curriculum Units & Lesson Plans
- Spoken Word Poetry Unit Featuring Malagasy Slam Poet Caylah
Created by high school teacher and 2018 Curriculum Development Grant recipient Lee Naughton, this unit plan on spoken word poetry emphasizes the importance finding one’s voice in order to affect change. The unit includes an overview of Madagascar and Malagasy Slam Poet Caylah as a means by which to globalize youth issues such as representation and gender rights, among others, and encourage students to develop their own slam poetry in a culminating class project.
- Language as Evidence: Using Swahili to Understand East African History
World history teacher Eric Beckman created a resource-rich website for educators to teach about East African history and contemporary society through classroom study of the Swahili language. These lessons are useful for teaching about the Bantu migration, Indian Ocean trade network, imperialism, colonialism, and globalization. Includes multimedia resources and editable powerpoints and worksheets for classroom use.
- South African Short Stories: Apartheid, Civil Rights, and You
Created by high school teacher Carol Marshall, these lesson plans will not only introduce students to a diverse group of South African writers and literature, but also help students to begin to understand how apartheid created discriminatory and despicable laws, boundaries, and limitations for those who lived in South Africa during this time period. Additionally, students will explore how race in America impacted citizens here in a profound way through a lesson plan on the Little Rock Nine.
- Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali Reading Guide
This student reading guide features a timeline of the Empire of Mali, a character list from the reading, chapter by chapter comprehension questions, pulled quotations, and reading activities.
Meet the Author
- Interview with author Ifeoma Onyefulu
Meet the Author - Interviews
Author of a number of award-winning children’s books, such as Ikenna Goes to Nigeria and Here Comes Our Bride!, Onyefulu expertly combines her passion for photography with her desire to spread representative portrayals of Nigeria to children around the world. In this video, Onyefulu discusses her motivations and intentions behind her books with staff at Boston University.
- Author Presentation
Elizabeth Zunon presents at the Global Read Webinar.
Africa is a continent rich with language diversity. There are over 3,000 languages spoken in Africa, many of which have roots to the major language families:
- Afro-Asianic includes Arabic ancestrally native to East and North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula
- Nilo-Congo (A) comprised of Niger-Congo’s non-Bantu branches
- Niger-Congo (B) mainly Bantu, Niger-Congo’s largest branch
- Austronesian is intrusive from Southeast Asia
- Indo-European (not shown on map) Afrikaans, native to the Southern tip of Africa, intrusive from Europe
Languages of Africa Series
There is immense linguistic diversity in Africa, where over 3,000 languages spoken. As an introduction to specific places and countries in the continent, it is useful to engage your students with the languages spoken. This may be an entry-point to discuss the role of indigenous knowledge, literacy, and the role of colonialism.
Languages of Africa Series
The Language of Africa series highlights a number of languages spoken around the continent and explores the personal and cultural connections each language has for its speaker. These abbreviated clips are an excellent way of introducing the multiculturalism and linguistic diversity found throughout the continent and provide students with an opportunity to think about the way their use of a specific language(s) carries with it historical and cultural connotations as well.
In this particular video, Professor Zoliswa Mali provides an example of the Afrikaans language. Afrikaans is one of the official languages of South Africa and is the third most spoken language in the country. For more information on the Afrikaans language, please follow the link here.
In this particular video, Professor Fallou Ngom provides an example of the Creole language. Creole is one of many languages spoken in Senegal, but examples of Creole can be found in numerous countries worldwide. For more information on the Creole language, please follow the link here.
In this particular video, Professor Fallou Ngom provides an example of the Mandinka language. Mandika is the primary language of the Gambia but variations are spoken in Senegal and parts of Guinea-Bissau. For more information on the Mandika language, please follow the link here.
In this particular video, Professor Zoliswa Mali provides an example of the Sesotho language. Sesotho is one of the official languages of South Africa and is the national language of Lesotho. For more information on the Sesotho language, please follow the link here.
In this particular video, Professor Zoliswa Mali provides an example of the isiXhosa language. IsiXhosa (known as Xhosa in English) is one of the official languages of South Africa and is widely spoken throughout the country. For more information on the isiXhosa language, please follow the link here.
In this particular video, Professor Zoliswa Mali provides an example of the Zulu language. Zulu is one of the official languages of South Africa and is the most widely spoken home language there. Zulu is also spoken in surrounding Southern Africa countries, such as Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland. For more information on the Zulu language, please follow the link here.