Best Books for Young Children
Nana Akua Goes to School. Tricia Elam Walker and April Harrison (illus.). Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020.
Zura is worried about how her classmates will react to her Ghanaian Nana’s facial marks on Grandparents Day, but Nana finds a way to show how special and meaningful they are.
Idia of the Benin Kingdom. Ekiuwa Aire and Alina Shabelnyk (illus.). Our Ancestors, 2020.
Queen Idia of the ancient kingdom of Benin played an important role during the reign of her son, Esigie, who ruled the Benin Kingdom (located in present-day Nigeria) from 1504-1550. This story tells of a young Idia who pursued her dreams, believed in herself, and became the first Queen Mother of the Benin Kingdom.
Honor Books for Young Children
The Talking Baobab Tree. Nelda LaTeef. Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2020.
A rabbit, lost in the desert and saved by a baobab tree, outwits a stronger, envious neighbor.
The Arabic Quilt, An Immigrant Story. Aya Khalil & Anait Semirdzhyan (illus.). Tilbury House, 2020.
Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to the U.S., and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Little does she know, her most treasured reminder of her old home will provide a pathway for acceptance in her new one.
Best Book for Older Readers
Raybearer. Jordan Ifueko. Amulet Books, 2020.
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. When Tarisai comes of age, The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Princes’ Council of Eleven. The Lady also has another more nefarious purpose. Will Tarisai carry out the Lady’s wicked wishes or choose her own path?
Honor Book for Older Readers
When Stars are Scattered. Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. Dial Books, 2020.
This masterful graphic novel is based on the life of a real Somali boy and his mentally-challenged brother. When Omar Mohamed and his younger brother Hassan fled an attack on his village in Somalia they became separated from their mother. They ended up in the Dadaab refugee camp in Northeast Kenya. The book charts Hassan’s journey from his arrival in Dadaab, through his teen years and his efforts to resettle in the U.S.
Best Book for New Adults
The Hairdresser of Harare. Tendai Huchu. Weaver Press, 2010.
Vimbai is a hairdresser, the best in Mrs. Khumalo’s salon, and she knows she is the queen on whom they all depend. Her situation is reversed when the good-looking, smooth-talking Dumisani joins them. However, his charm and desire to please slowly erode Vimbai’s rancour and when he needs somewhere to live, Vimbai becomes his landlady.