This post first appeared at WorldKidtLit on December 9, 2020
What if we got readers, publishers, librarians, authors, and everyone who loves books together to celebrate African literature?
That was the question new publisher Catalyst Press asked itself when it launched in 2017 with the goal to “publish books that reveal the world from different perspectives and different understandings.” African literature is at the very heart of what Catalyst Press does. Now in its fourth year, more and more readers have joined the movement, sharing their African reads and recommendations on social media using the #ReadingAfrica hashtag. This year, Catalyst Press is also celebrating the week with two panel events. The kick-off event was held on 6 December and a second event on 9 December will focus on crime writing.
WorldKidLit is of course also excited to celebrate some of our favourite African reads, along with other African children’s book events and online content we’ve enjoyed this year.
Virtual Readings and Festivals
Taata Musa at Tales from Uganda regularly retells traditional Ugandan stories in both Luganda and English on his YouTube channel. These stories are passed down from generation to generation orally and are a large part of Ugandan heritage and culture. Tales From Uganda retells them in a way that everyone can enjoy. They’re perfect for bedtimes too! Musa also enjoys asking his Twitter followers to solve traditional African riddles. Are you up to the challenge?
Tata Story Time is a new online kids show where fantastic actors read beautiful picture books. With authors from African, Caribbean & African American heritage these stories will engage your children. Aimed at Pre-school to 8-year-olds, it’s perfect for entertaining and educating your toddler and older children on this YouTube storytime library.
Back in October, the Akada Book Festival put on a fantastic two days of online events to make up for the restrictions that prevented the children’s book festival from taking place in Lagos, Nigeria. The first day focused on professional workshops for children’s book writers, illustrators and publishers and the second day was jam-packed with author book readings; Book Chat; Giggle Box; Happy Tunes; story time; pop quizzes and prizes; fun workshops for children and insightful sessions for parents and teachers. You can catch up on the YouTube channel here.
African Publishing for Children and YA The WorldKidLit team have also enjoyed being able to attend several African literary festivals that moved entirely online this year. It’s been exciting to see children’s writing included in the programming. Back in August, the Abjua Literary and Arts Festival in Nigeria, #ALitFest2020, invited Tolu Habib, Chimee Adioha, Ayo Oyeku, and Dr Modupe Adeyemo Oyetad to discuss reading as a way to help children develop empathy during the Little Lit Children panel. Read Johanna McCalmont’s write up here. In October, the AkeFestival hosted a fascinating panel discussing how to develop and strengthen the children’s book industry in Africa. You can listen to Deborah Ahenkorah, Sarah Odedina and Victoria Inegbedion talk about ways to rebuild the children’s book industry during the panel Folktales Sans Moonlight: Writing for Today’s African Children here.
WorldKidLit Reviews and Interviews from Africa
And of course the WorldKidLit team have a few favourites we’ve enjoyed immensely. We’ve also had the chance to talk to authors and podcasters. We’ve ‘been’ to Côte d’Ivoire with the comic book Akissi, across the continent of Africa with the Afro YA collection Waterbirds on the Lakeshore and talked to Dai Varela from Cape Verde, Joseph Ndwaniye from Rwanda, Walid Taher from Egypt, and the ladies at Not Another Book Podcast who shared their favourite children’s books here. You can also search the blog by country to read more about prizes and other review sites we’ve enjoyed here.
African Publishers with children’s and YA catalogues The publishing sector is flourishing in Africa and the number of publishers with children’s lists is growing. Here are just a few we’ve spotted this year, we’d love to hear about your favourites too. Clever Clogs Books and Ouida Books in Nigeria, Huza Press in Rwanda, African Bureau in Ghana, and Okada Books, a digital provider of local and original African books. The African Books Collective is a worldwide marketing and distribution outlet for books from Africa and also promote a large number of African publishers.
What are your favourite #ReadingAfrica children’s and YA titles? We’d love to hear and share your recommendations too. Get in touch on Twitter #WorldKidLit, Instagram or join our Facebook discussion page.