We adults know, of course, that Africa is a continent, not a country. Also that it is diverse, full of real people and places that are varied and distinct. We know of its beauty and of its harshness. And perhaps most of all, we adults are highly aware of its complicated historical relationship with North America. Helping American young people reach a similar understanding of the real Africa is as important as it is challenging. It can be tricky when their toys, visits to zoos and theme parks, viewings of movies and television shows, and other encounters leave them with a romanticized sense of exotic animals, unfamiliar cultural practices, and rural settings. Older children may learn of horrific conflicts, dreadful illness, and dire poverty. While books are not a panacea, and some unfortunately only reinforce the same tired stereotypes, others exist that dispel misunderstandings and help children gain a deeper sense of that landmass called Africa.
That’s the opening paragraph in my “Books About Africa” article in the latest Horn Book Magazine. You can now read the whole thing here. Hope it gives you some food for though as well as book ideas.