Children’s Africana Book Awards

Bocas LogoThe 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.

The Center for African Studies at Howard University is the institutional base for the Awards.

Also check out The Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) Festival

10 Books Honored in 2022

Best Book: Older Readers (Sudan)

Book Description: 

“Nothing short of magic.” —Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling author of The Poet X

From the acclaimed poet featured on Forbes Africa’s “30 Under 30” list, this powerful novel-in-verse captures one girl, caught between cultures, on an unexpected journey to face the ephemeral girl she might have been. Woven through with moments of lyrical beauty, this is a tender meditation on family, belonging, and home.

my mother meant to name me for her favorite flower
its sweetness garlands made for pretty girls
i imagine her yasmeen bright & alive
& i ache to have been born her instead

Nima wishes she were someone else. She doesn’t feel understood by her mother, who grew up in a different land. She doesn’t feel accepted in her suburban town; yet somehow, she isn’t different enough to belong elsewhere. Her best friend, Haitham, is the only person with whom she can truly be herself. Until she can’t, and suddenly her only refuge is gone.

As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen—the name her parents meant to give her at birth—Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might be more real than Nima knows. And the life Nima wishes were someone else’s… is one she will need to fight for with a fierceness she never knew she possessed.

Best Book: Young Children (Ghana)

Kwame Nkrumah’s Midnight Speech for Independence
by Useni Eugene Perkins, Illustrated by Laura Freeman

Publication Date: Sep 21, 2021
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9780940975866
Imprint: Just Us Books
Publisher: Just Us Books, Inc.
Parent Company: Just Us Books, Inc.

Read a Description of Kwame Nkrumah’s Midnight Speech for Independence

Book Description: 

On a humid March night in 1957, Kwame Nkrumah made history. While thousands of people, including dignitaries from around the world cheered, he announced his country’s independence. After many decades of British rule, Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, became the first sub-Saharan African nation to break free from colonial rule.

Kwame Nkrumah’s Midnight Speech for Independence shares the story of Nkrumah’s declaration of Ghana’s independence and the tremendous history that led to that celebrated moment.

Kwame Nkrumah’s Midnight Speech for Independence image from book

Honor Book: Older Readers (South Africa)

Sugar Town Queens
by Malla Nunn

Publication Date: Aug 03, 2021
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9780525515609
Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of Sugar Town Queens

Book Description: 

From Los Angeles Times Book Prize Award winner and Edgar Award nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and a powerful story of how friendship saves and heals.

When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday, she knows it’s going to be one of her mother’s difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. This one involves Amandla wearing a bedsheet loosely stitched as a dress. An outfit, her mother says, is certain to bring Amandla’s father back home, as if he were the prince and this was the fairytale ending their family was destined for. But in truth, Amandla’s father has long been gone—since before Amandla was born—and even her mother’s memory of him is hazy. In fact, many of her mother’s memories from before Amandla was born are hazy. It’s just one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give them strange looks—that and the fact her mother is white and Amandla is Black.

When Amandla finds a mysterious address in the bottom of her mother’s handbag along with a large amount of cash, she decides it’s finally time to get answers about her mother’s life. What she discovers will change the shape and size of her family forever. But with her best friends at her side, Amandla is ready to take on family secrets and the devil himself. These Sugar Town queens are ready to take over the world to expose the hard truths of their lives.

Honor Book: Older Readers (Nigeria)

Skin of the Sea
by Natasha Bowen

Publication Date: Nov 02, 2021
List Price: $19.95
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9780593120941
Imprint: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of Skin of the Sea

Book Description: 

A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata—a mermaid—collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable—she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail… .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

“The most engrossing, thought-provoking, beautiful novel I’ve read in ages. Skin of the Sea knocks your socks off and leaves you wanting more.” —Namina Forna, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Ones

Honor Book: Young Children (various African countries)

African Proverbs for All Ages
by Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Illustrated by Nelda LaTeef

Publication Date: Nov 30, 2021
List Price: $19.99
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9781250756060
Imprint: Roaring Brook Press
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers
Parent Company: Holtzbrinck Publishing Group

Read a Description of African Proverbs for All Ages

Book Description: 

An Oprah Book about the power of proverbs, how they evolve over time, and the wisdom of various cultures in Africa.
It has been said that a proverb is a short sentence based on long experience.

Whether you are young or old, proverbs can open your mind to a whole new way of seeing the world. We underestimate children when we assume they are incapable of understanding metaphor and deeper meaning. There are multiple ways that children learn, but for each method by which they learn, they need their imagination engaged and their visual sensibilities ignited. And as adults, we underestimate ourselves when we allow our lives to be about practical matters only. Proverbs can stir our soul and spark our imagination. —Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D. President Emerita of Spelman and Bennett Colleges

In African Proverbs for All Ages, noted anthropologist and educator Dr. Johnetta Betsch Cole and award-winning illustrator Nelda La Teef invite children and adults to explore and reflect on complex notions about relationships, identity, society, and the human condition.

Honor Book: Older Readers (Ghana)

Crossing the Stream
by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie

Publication Date: Jun 08, 2021
List Price: $17.95
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9781324017097
Imprint: Norton Young Readers
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Parent Company: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Read a Description of Crossing the Stream

Book Description: 

A Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of 2021

Ato hasn’t visited his grandmother’s house since he was seven. He’s heard the rumors that she’s a witch, and his mother has told him he must never sit on the old couch on her porch. Now here he is, on that exact couch, with a strange-looking drink his grandmother has given him, wondering if the rumors are true. What’s more, there’s a freshly dug hole in her yard that Ato suspects may be a grave meant for him.

Meanwhile at school, Ato and his friends have entered a competition to win entry to Nnoma, the island bird sanctuary that Ato’s father helped create. But something is poisoning the community garden where their project is housed, and Ato sets out to track down the culprit. In doing so, he brings his estranged mother and grandmother back together, and begins healing the wounds left on the family by his father’s death years before.

And that hole in the yard? It is a grave, but not for the purpose Ato feared, and its use brings a tender, celebratory ending to this deeply felt and universal story of healing and love from one of Ghana’s most admired children’s book authors.

Honor Book: Older Readers (Sudan)

Listen, Layla
by Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Publication Date: Nov 01, 2021
List Price: $15.99
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9781760896065
Imprint: Penguin (Au Yr)
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of Listen, Layla

Book Description: 

What’s a queen to do when her summer plans go horribly wrong? A powerful, funny and timely novel for young readers by writer, broadcaster and award-winning social advocate, Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

Exploring the diaspora experience, race, politics and identity, Listen, Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied is an own voices novel for young readers, which bursts with passion, humour and truth.

Layla has ended the school year on a high and can’t wait to spend the holidays hanging out with her friends and designing a prize-winning Grand Designs Tourismo invention. But Layla’s plans are interrupted when her grandmother in Sudan falls ill and the family rush to be with her.

The last time Layla went to Sudan she was only a young child. Now she feels torn between her Sudanese and Australian identities. As political tensions in Sudan erupt, so too do tensions between Layla and her family. Layla is determined not to lose her place in the invention team, but will she go against her parents’ wishes? What would a Kandaka do?

Notable Book: ONotable Book (Nigeria)

Too Small Tola
by Atinuke

Publication Date: Mar 02, 2021
List Price: $15.99
Format: Hardcover, 96 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Early Reader
ISBN13: 9781536211276
Imprint: Candlewick Press
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Parent Company: Candlewick Press

Read a Description of Too Small Tola

Book Description: 
Three delightful tales from a renowned Nigerian storyteller introduce a chapter-book heroine who is every bit as mighty as she is small.

In a trio of droll stories, award-winning author and storyteller Atinuke debuts an endearing and enduring character with plenty to prove. Tola lives in an apartment in the busy city of Lagos, Nigeria, with her sister, Moji, who is very clever; her brother, Dapo, who is very fast; and Grandmommy, who is very bossy. Tola may be small, but she’s strong enough to carry a basket brimming with groceries home from the market, and she’s clever enough to count out Grandmommy’s change. When the faucets in the apartment break, it’s Tola who brings water from the well. And when Mr. Abdul, the tailor, has an accident and needs help taking his customers’ measurements, only Tola can save the day. Atinuke’s trademark wit and charm are on full display, accompanied by delightful illustrations by Onyinye Iwu. Too Small Tola evokes the urban bustle and rich blending of cultures in Lagos through the eyes of a little girl with an outsize will—and an even bigger heart.

Notable Book: Notable Book (South Africa)

Imbila’s Tale: An English/Zulu Flipbook for Children
by Desaray Mnyandu, Illustrated by Jessica Gamboa

Paperback Unavailable for Sale from AALBC
(Check with Amazon  )

Buy the Kindle eBook 
Borrow from Library 

Publication Date: Jul 01, 2021
List Price: Unavailable
Format: Paperback, 80 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Early Reader
ISBN13: 9781736525241
Imprint: Zulunomics
Publisher: Zulunomics
Parent Company: Zulunomics

Read a Description of Imbila’s Tale: An English/Zulu Flipbook for Children

Book Description: 

Little Imbila, an adorably idle creature, wants a tail! But, does he want a tail more than he wants to lounge on his rock in the sun? Find out in this fun Zulu inspired folktale, Imbila’s Tale.

The first English/isiZulu flip book! Read Imbila’s Tale in English then flip the book over to read it in isiZulu! Introduce children to new vocabulary, provide cultural exposure and life lessons…all while stimulating their imaginations!

* English/isiZulu Flipbook
* 8 x 8 paperback
* Based on a Zulu Folktale

Notable Book: Notable Book (Nigeria)

Osasu and the Great Wall of the Benin Empire
by Tamkara Adun

Publication Date: Aug 28, 2021
List Price: $35.99
Format: Paperback, 104 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9789083178202
Imprint: Ọdúnìfẹ́
Publisher: Ọdúnìfẹ́
Parent Company: Ọdúnìfẹ́ Global

Read a Description of Osasu and the Great Wall of the Benin Empire

Book Description: 

The Great Benin Empire was an empire kingdom in West Africa known for its great wealth, intricately planned cities, and beautiful bronze sculptures.
It was one of the oldest and most highly developed empires in West Africa from the 13th century until the end of the 19th century.
It attracted visitors from far away lands who came to trade and also marvel at its great, imposing wall.

Osasu and the Great Wall of Benin Kingdom is an engaging story that will take you back in time.
It is 102 pages filled with history, culture, and indigenous proverbs- You won’t be able to put it down!

The story is told from the point of view of Osasu, a young Edo boy who lived in the Benin empire and enjoys the comfort and protection of the Great Wall of Benin that was built by his ancestors.

Through Osasu’s eyes, we catch a glimpse of the life and the rich culture of the Edo people before their interruption.

Follow young Osasu, as he navigates life at the height of the ancient Benin civilization, the arrival of strange visitors, and the fall of the Great Benin Empire. The story ends on an inspirational note with Osasu’s vow in the final chapter.

A must-read for every child, teen, and parent interested in untold African histories.

Tamkara Adun is the griot of her time, she has done extensive research on the Edo people and their rich culture before their interruption by colonial forces and she shares these nuggets in her book.

This book will stimulate interesting conversations for the home and classroom.
Apart from the entertainment value, readers will benefit from exploring important nuggets of African history, language and culture as they immerse themselves in this beautiful African story.

These beautifully designed worksheets accompany the book Osasu and the Great wall of the Benin Empire. All exercises are designed to prepare the learners and give them enough background knowledge to fully appreciate the history behind the rise and fall of the great wall of the Benin empire.

Each section is paired with a worksheet and an assessment.

* Flashcards with new and interesting vocabulary are also included
* Learners can select or omit any activity as needed.
* Worksheets can be used without the book, if learners already have knowledge of the Great wall of the Benin empire.