Monday, November 10, 2014

Read Africa - Africana Book Awards

LionHeart and I had the distinct honor of receiving awards during the annual Africana Book Awards. My award was for helping to spread the word in the homeschool community about the Read Africa challenge, and LionHeart's for his participation. Brenda Randolph founded Africa Access in 1989 to give parents, schools and public libraries access to more literature written by and about African people.  The Africa Access Review, the Read Africa Book Club and Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) are all a part of this effort.  

It gave me great pleasure to introduce LionHeart to A.G. Ford, the illustrator for the book Desmond and the Very Mean Word, inspired by the life and work of Desmond Tutu.  This book was one of the four honored.

After crafts, refreshments and face-painting, we made our way to the amazing bookstore in the African Art Museum to make our purchases to support these authors.

 It was also inspiring that two of those honored were men.  LionHeart wanted to meet Desmond Tutu, but meeting Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah was just as much of an honor.  He is the co-author of  Once Upon A Time In GhanaWe'll be reading these traditional stories from Ghana during our evening story hour.

I have been reading books by and about African people to my children for more than 13 years.  From the ages of 0-5, I only read books that featured Africans or animal characters to KingMan because I knew that he would be inundated with images that did not look like him outside of our home.  Eventually, our reading included other people of color.  I continued in that tradition with LionHeart.  We read everything now, but being selective in the beginning, I believe is important to the development of healthy self-image and self-esteem.

Africa Is My Home was another winner this year and a must add to our library.  It tells the story of the Amistad uprising through the voice of  Magulu, a young girl from Sierra Leone. 

Bundle of Secrets: Savita Returns Home written by Mubina Kirmani will also be a part of our collection.  The story of Savita and Njeri and the East Indian-Kenyan history is new to me.


Africa Access, in collaboration with the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association, 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 first CABA was presented in 1992. Today over seventy-four titles have been recognized and more than 100 authors and illustrators are members of the Winners Circle. 

I hope to see more families support Africa Access in the future.  Our stories must be preserved and they must be told!


  1. Lovely to see this. I hope you don't mind if I take the photo of all of us to add to my blog (as I don't yet have one).

  2. EXCELLENT blog. I just read it aloud to my children and my nephew. Congrats to you and LionHart! Awesome Awesome job!! HUGZ

    1. Thank you so much. We are going back this year.

  3. That's wonderful! Thanks for sharing these wonderful books with us.

  4. Thank you for your kind words. Please use any photos that you want.

  5. What an honor!! This is the first I'm hearing about this project and love seeing the books you've shared. We read a lot here in our home and will definitely be adding them to our list. Thanks so much for sharing. Be well.