3 Must-Read Picture Books Featuring Ghanaian Characters (Happy Ghana Independence Day)
If you are looking to integrate more international content into your lessons or story time, Ghana makes an excellent starting place. With a population over 25 million people and over 4 million Ghanaians living outside of the country, the story of Ghana and the cultural, artistic and scientific contributions of Ghanaian people is remarkable.
As the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence from England, the West African nation represents Black resilience, democracy, and liberty in Pan-African ideology and research.
What is now known as Ghana was made up of several independent and sovereign nations, including the Asante (Ashanti), Gonja and Gadoma empires. The region that encompassed these kingdoms was known as the Gold Coast due to its abundance of precious metals.
Today, Ghana has one of the strongest economies in Sub-Sahara Africa, a thriving tourism and business industry and a booming entertainment sector. It is home to two of the continent’s most prestigious universities (the University of Ghana and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology).
Now if this is not inspiring enough, here are three excellent picture books that will surely inspire your growing readers. Be sure to pick them up online (linked below) or at your local library.
Grandma’s List by Portia Dery [Age: 4 to 8] This beautiful story is a classic tale of a young child asserting their independence and maturity. Fatima is determined to prove to her grandma and her family that she is not just a little girl. When her Grandma asks for help with running errands, Fatima knows she can do it and convinces her Grandma to give her the job! But, Fatima’s efforts do not go as planned.
The illustrations of this book beautifully depict a modern Ghanaian neighborhood. The story integrates traditional Ghanaian food and home life. It beautifully portrays the inter-generational and mix of the extended and immediate family which is notorious in many African families.
Grandma Comes to Stay by Ifeoma Onyefulu [Ages: 4 to 7] The anticipation of a special visit is where this book begins. Three-year-old Stephanie helps her mom and sister prepare for an overnight visit from Grandma. Featuring photographs instead of illustrations, this book beautifully shows the inter-generational relationship between grandchild and grandparent, rather than explicitly teaching about Ghana. This is part of the book’s beauty; Ghanaian culture is integrated naturally rather than exoticized.
Akua’s Masterpiece by Oladoyin Oladapo and Lynn Ma [Ages: 3 to 7]: One of the joys of being young is finding new hobbies to explore. This is what happens when Akua is given a brand-new camera. She explores the city of Accra with her camera as her guide. But a series of mistakes provide very teachable moments for Akua and the reader.
If you have ever traveled or lived in Accra, you will recognize some of the beautiful places that Akua visits.