THIS is Read Africa Week - the first week of Black History Month – when teachers, librarians, parents and other adults are encouraged to introduce young people to great books about Africa. If you register as a Read Africa Partner, you have a chance to win a free Read Africa Book bundle. The project is sponsored by Africa Access, the Center for African Studies at Howard University and Howard University’s School of Education.
Africa Access offers lists of recommended picture books, chapter books, new adult reads and winners of its Children’s Africana Book Award. Hands Around the Library won this honor in 2013. In honor of Multicultural Children's Book Day 2016, kindergarten-first grade teacher Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri blogged about her experience reading Hands to her students - including a very thought-provoking activity for these youngest students.
Africa Access recommends books that
- Use the names of specific countries
- Present problems like hunger, poverty, disease and war in a global context and highlight African solutions to these problems.
- Avoid perpetuating stereotypes about African countries.
- Avoid inaccurate or biased terms like “primitive,” “uncivilized,” “under-developed.”
- Include North African countries like Morocco, Algeria and Egypt.
- Avoid highlighting only exotic practices but emphasize typical social groups and activities with which Western children can identify.
- Balance information about men and women in African societies.
- Present holidays and customs respectfully.
There are more questions to ask when evaluating a lesson plan or book here.
The 2015 CABA award winner is The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
Pinkney writes in her author’s note that The Red Pencil follows “one child’s journey through grief and possibility” during the scourge of civil war in Darfur, Sudan, in 2004. Through Pinkney’s vivid use of poetry, metaphor, and descriptive language Amira comes alive. We are touched by the simple beauty of her life before the war and the often frightening challenges she struggles to overcome when her broken family must flee to a refugee camp. Here are some Pencil Tips Writing Workshop ideas to use with The Red Pencil and more workshop suggestions for Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls, the true story of a young man from Ghana who was born with only one leg, but became a star bicyclist. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah now raises money to help people with disabilities.
For those in the greater Washington area, there are several events throughout the month to celebrate Read Africa Week
- Elizabeth Zunon, Gaithersburg Public Library, 18330 Montgomery Village Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20879
Featured Book: One Plastic Bag : Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of The Gambia by Miranda Paul and Elizabeth Zunon (illus.)
Saturday February 6, 2016 2:00 p.m.
- Andrea Pinkney, Martin Luther King Public Library, 901 G St., NW, Washington DC 20001
Featured Book: The Red Pencil by Andrea Pinkney and Shane Evans (illus.)
Thursday February 11, 2016 10:00 a.m.
- Books to Brushes Painting Party, Silver Spring Public Library 900 Wayne Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Featured Book: Wangari Maathai : The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees by Franck Prévot and Aurélia Fronty (illus.)
Ages 11 up Space limited, Registration required
Saturday February 27, 2016, 2:00-4:00